When drawing boundaries, one should remember: those boundaries should work both ways – both for you and whoever (whatever) you are ‘drawing the line at’.
For abuse survivors, knowing where to draw that line has always been difficult. Those lines were crossed – and in some cases blurred, or erased – and now the adult ‘child’ doesn’t know what to do.
Therein lays the rub: not knowing what to do, abuse survivors often allow themselves to be abused again and again – either not knowing what to do, scared of what might ‘await’ them in the unknown world, or most likely, simply accepting the abuse as ‘typical human behavior’. After all: it’s the world they’ve known; the one they grew up in. They have no ‘reference’ for any other life. At best they see ‘you’, Mr. Normal, as living a dream while they are living a nightmare. They don’t know how to go from ‘there’ to ‘here’. They can only hope, or hope for the hope of having some hope someday. Usually life beats them down further until they die or suicide on out – unnoticed and unheard by the world at large. Sad story, and the truth in a lot of survivors lives.
But where do you know where to ‘draw the line’?
Here, I’m gonna help you. New tool called “shame”. Yeah, you’re kinda familiar with it; I can feel you kinda twisting and wiggling like I do, uncomfortable with the idea and those ‘back in the mind’ ghosts of abuse again. Thinking: What’s this guy gonna tell me? Don’t you think I know I’ve had enough shame in my lifetime to last a million?”
Yeah, I’m gonna tell you something: I’m gonna tell you how to put that knowledge of yours to some good use; using that shame you have as a tool, and not so much as a weapon against yourself/selves.
Simply ask yourself: “When I do this? – if I do that? – am I gonna feel ashamed afterwards? To tell someone? Or is it going to be hurt me physically, voluntarily? Would I be ashamed talking about this?”
And yes, examine your feelings closely; use that marvelous mind of yours, trip the time fantastic and see what lays ahead – as best you can. Would you be able to tell your friends? (Maybe not the itty bitty details, but come on? “Yeah, I had sex with him?” Not so bad – when put it in the right context. Can be kinda beautiful at times.). But on the other hand – there’s times – and I know we’ve all done it – we’ve gone into an ‘issue’ – knowing we’d be ashamed afterwards – that this was going to be a ‘deep and dark dirty little secret.” We’ve all been there. Whether it’s through: “Hey, honey, I was being abused as a little kid,” – to being ashamed to tell your friends your husband has beaten you, because it means you feel your are powerlessness over your own life. (Take charge, honey! I know my wife did: and she’s all the more beautiful and stronger for it!)
So next time when you find yourself wondering ‘what to do’ – whether a postive or negative thing: Ask yourself – “Am I going to be ashamed by this afterwards?”
If so, then just don’t do it. Draw that line and do not cross. Not even if YOU want to do it; not even if THEY want to do it – draw that line. Stand firm by it. And here’s the flip side (Because there is always a flip side to everything. Just ask my MPD mind.)
That line you draw? Don’t YOU cross it either, hon, not until you are absolutely 100% certain this isn’t going to ‘damage you for life’. Trust me, I’ve been there and I know you have, too. We all have our own kinds of issues. And that line? You need to draw that line across every area of your life, including your emotions.
You’ve got to draw the line at your anger: how far you will let it go; and how long you intend on raging. It’s okay to feel anger – but not for years. It’s eats you up sooner or later. That’s okay: you’ll deal with it as time goes on; however, I’ve known ones that didn’t. Old, sour and bitter; suspicious people, seeing threats in everything and everywhere, full of a vindictive anger and rage at how their life is going – which, by the way, is often times an indicator of how they see themselves.
So don’t let your anger consume you until there’s nothing left. Feel it – and let it be gone. Work on reducing those things which anger you – and if you can’t working on changing your preceptions. Perceptions are keys to emotions. How you see something determines how you will react. Change the first one and you alter the second one. After all, I’ve said it again and again, and am going to continue saying it: you can’t be happy if you’re mad. And being mad is okay for some things. But all the time about the littlest thing: no good. Draw a line and work on those perceptions of yours. After all: wouldn’t you be ashamed if you went on a stomping tirade in the middle of a business meeting – or threw your children against the wall? Beating that dog? No good. As your anger rises, monitor your shame of it. That’ll tell you when it’s time to stop raging and begin moving on towards healing from it.
The same goes with love. Many of us survivors confuse love with sex sometimes. Every survivor I’ve met has been capable of great loving (I’m talking the emotion, not the body) – with huge hearts and warmth and understanding. Sometimes you have to get through that layer of invisible armor they’ve got woven in and around their hearts; but it’s there. Gotta love them survivors; they’ll love you back with an intensity of feeling, devotion, and ‘brother/sisterhood’ that I’ve only encountered during my military career – and even then, survivors are even closer. We’ve held one another (so to speak) and know our pain.
But in that love lays a danger, for in our confusion we often ask ourselves “Is this love (sex) – or is it the real thing? And if I make love with him/her – am I going to feel better after – LONG after, say a few decades down the line?” Often we don’t know what true love feels like – and by that I mean the feeling of FEELING loved by someone. We might acknowledge it in their actions: they take care of us; seem concerned for us; are willing to do us little favors, including the sexual ones. But even a pimp does that sometimes. I know my pedophile friend did when I was a little one: a very kind young teenager; always taking care of someone’s kids. In more ways than one. Played with us; fought with us; taught us to play games (real ones, not just the ones in the bathroom.)
So love: yeah, us survivors gotta cautiously draw that line, knowing it’s gonna be moving back and forth for us, maybe even fading sometimes – and that’s when you gotta ask that question of mine: “Are you gonna be ashamed of this?”
And the answer is (though sometimes it’ll break your heart doing this; I know it has mine) – DRAW THE LINE.