Posted by: Marie | July 18, 2013

(851) Negotiating boundaries

Post #851
[Private journal entry written on Saturday, May 12, 2012]

I’m celebrating . . . I published a blog post last night . . . and it was the first one I’ve published in nearly three months. I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had time to format my journal entries into blog posts.

It feels so good to be back on the blog scene . . . I’ve really, really missed that cyber interaction! And, during those three months a number of people reached out to check on me . . . to make sure I was okay. One person who is so consistent in his support of me – in the support of my blog and my healing journey – is Evan. He faithfully checked up on me during those three months.

He is an unusual guy . . . a gem.


Something interesting . . . when I was so sick this week, I decided it would be a good idea to not take any allergy medicine because I was concerned it might further upset my digestive system. I also didn’t take any melatonin for the same reason.


Photo by Martin Chen

The good news is that my allergies are not very bad despite not taking the allergy medicine. I guess that’s an indication that I don’t need it as much as I thought I did. So, I’m thinking I won’t take it on a regular basis, only when I really need it. And, I think it was a good thing to have a break from the melatonin as I am concerned I was becoming dependent upon it . . . I was having trouble going to sleep without it and having trouble staying asleep with it.

So, that sounds like a better deal for my body and a better deal for my pocketbook!


James and Sara both had a piano lesson this morning . . .

Towards the end of James’ lesson, we moved from the piano to my desk so we could work with the composition software I have on my computer. As we were sitting there, he reached over and touched me on the arm a couple of times. After one touch, he suddenly got a horrified look on his face . . .

James: I just realized that I’ve been touching you today . . . I forgot about your request that I not touch you . . . I mean, I’m remembering now, but I forgot until just now . . . I am so sorry! Oh, Marie, I am so sorry!

Me: Thank you for being sensitive about that . . .

Actually . . . it has always been okay for you to touch me . . . my request was not for you to not touch me, it was for you to make sure I saw the touch coming so I could mentally prepare for it . . . but, I suspect that you translated that into a boundary that was more conservative than I had meant . . . which is not a bad thing as I think it is better to be safe than sorry . . .

James: Oh . . . I guess I was very concerned about crossing a line with you . . . that is the last thing I would ever want to do . . .

Me: I do know that about you . . . thank you for being so careful . . .

James: Have I been touching you . . . I mean, other than today? I’m afraid I wasn’t paying attention to that detail . . .

Me: Yes . . . you have touched me a few times during lessons recently . . . and you did a few times at dinner last week . . . but I’m totally okay with it. And, because of the work I’ve been doing in therapy, I’d be okay with you touching me even when I don’t see it coming. I’ve worked through a lot of the trauma that was making that difficult for me . . . and, I’m far more comfortable with you now than I was then . . . I’ve learned that I can trust you completely . . .

I guess I’m rambling a bit . . . what I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to be careful about touching me anymore . . . (grinning a little) I’m officially rescinding my request . . . you no longer need to be careful about touching me . . .

James: Okay . . . thank you . . . I’m so glad my touching you wasn’t making you feel uncomfortable . . .

Me: Not at all . . . I’m actually learning to enjoy touch! I find it healing.

As they were packing up to leave, I brought up the subject of my asking personal questions of James and Cindy . . . of course, I was very aware of the fact that Sara was hearing everything we said . . .

Me: By the way . . . do you remember that, at dinner the other night, I mentioned that I really struggle with knowing how to have meaningful conversations with people . . . ??

James: Oh, yes . . .

Me: I’ve been doing some more thinking about that and I’ve gained some insight around it . . .

It is easy for me to go to social events where I don’t know anyone well . . . it is easy for me to have conversations with strangers because it involves having the same conversation over and over . . . “What do you do for a living?” and “Where do you live?” and “What is your favorite color?” I can do those superficial conversations without breaking a sweat.

But, this idea of getting to know people really well – sitting down with them, having multiple conversations with them and getting to know them really well – that’s a whole new concept for me. It is something I’m having to learn how to navigate.

I guess one of the reasons I was struggling at dinner with you is that I have a lot of questions – there’s a lot of things about you guys that I’m curious about . . . but every time I’d think of something I wanted to ask, I would not ask it because I was afraid of it being too personal.

In my family, even among us siblings, you don’t ask about things that the other person hasn’t brought up. If the sibling hasn’t chosen to talk about it, you don’t bring it up.

So, this idea that it is okay to bring up something with someone and to ask if we can talk about it . . . negotiating where the boundaries are . . . that concept doesn’t exist in my family . . . we don’t do that.

I’m learning that the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily operate that way . . . I’m learning that it is okay for me to ask personal questions in some situations.

I’m aware that I tend to take my whole story and dump it on someone because of the way I was raised . . . I want to put it all out there and let people know I’m willing to talk about it . . . which is how things work in my family . . . we indicate that we want to talk about something by talking about it.

So, that’s what I do . . . I kind of vomit everything on people to let them know it’s okay to ask about it. But, I’m learning that that might not be the best way to navigate that. Part of the reason I put my story into written format is so I can hand it over to people and allow them to read as much or as little of it as they please . . . that seems to be a viable middle-ground solution.

James: I’m glad you shared your story with me . . . it helps me know how you got to where you are today and it helps me understand you better.

Me: I appreciate that you took the time to learn about me! That means a lot to me . . .

Part of it, too, is that I’m proud of where I came from. Compared to where I was even five years ago, I’m in a very different place today. It took a lot of hard work to get where I’m at and to change my behaviors – it is a whole new place for me and I’m actually very proud of myself.

James: And you have every right to be proud of yourself – you have made some huge changes!

Me: Thank you . . .

So, let me ask you this . . . if I did ask a question and it was too personal, would you tell me?

James: Absolutely! I wouldn’t be offended at all by your asking the question.

Me: I guess my biggest concern is that I don’t want to seem uncouth . . . like I should have known where that line should be . . . you are such private people and I don’t want to violate your privacy.

James: It wouldn’t be a matter of being uncouth . . . I think it is neat that you want to get to know us at that level. That’s actually a neat thing. If you asked a question that I wasn’t willing to answer, I would just say, “That’s too personal and I don’t really want to answer that.” The fact that I felt the need to set a boundary wouldn’t affect our friendship . . . that’s not a negative thing.

We aren’t really private people . . . we don’t have many friends, but we aren’t really private. In fact, we are probably more open and more willing to talk about private matters than most people. I don’t want to speak for Cindy, but as for me, there are very few things I won’t talk about.

In fact, in my job, I talk to people all the time about very personal topics . . . it’s the nature of my job. I tend to hang out in that space on a daily basis and I’m quite comfortable with it. So, my boundaries are a bit different from most people’s boundaries.

Me: Okay . . . neat. That makes me feel more comfortable about all of it.

James: By the way, you know that we really like you . . . right?

Me: (Smiling) Yes, I do know that.

James: (Looking over at Sara) I guess my biggest concern would be what we say in front of Sara . . . I want to make sure we wouldn’t discuss things that would be inappropriate for her to hear.

We actually talk to her about a lot of things . . . we talk in front of her pretty openly, probably more openly than most people would think is okay. But, there are still limits.

Me: Of course!

I know I’m not a parent, but I tend to agree with your decision to talk openly in front of Sara. I think a lot of trauma could be avoided if kids were better educated about that stuff . . . if they had more responsibly-delivered information. I think it would benefit them.

James: Yes, I agree . . .

So . . . the conversation unfolded about like I thought it would . . . I’m glad I brought it up to him.

Quotes 761


  1. Great going!

    • Thanks, Evan!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: