I had a very important conversation with my counselor today about boundaries. I told her I often felt as if I didn’t have any and as though anything or anyone could get in at any time.
From the time I was little, I was given the message that I must be there to answer the needs of others. As the daughter of a narcissistic mother, this primarily meant I had to be there for her but everyone’s needs seemed to be more important than my own. I was a dutiful caretaker and set my needs aside to care for my mom as well as my family and friends.
I went along with most things whether I wanted to or not. In fact, I can’t remember an instance of saying “no” to either of my parents until I was almost a teenager. At that time, I told my religious tyrant of a father that I refused to attend church anymore, after which he disowned me. He apologized later but the damage had been done and we remained estranged for years.
Between my mother’s narcissism and my father shoving his religion down my throat, I hardly had a concept of personal rights. I received approval and affection for dismissing my needs and comfort, and this was reinforced by society at large. I was a “good girl”– likable, friendly, funny and always there for her friends and family.
I struggled to feel good enough. Only recently did I realize I had been conditioned to allow others to violate my boundaries at all costs; the cost being my comfort, self-determination and sense of worth.
This cost was too great.
I feel it incumbent upon us to know and to teach respect of all people’s boundaries, especially those of girls and women. Children are often dismissed and reduced as people but females receive a special message: Be kind, be caring and always put the needs of others ahead of your own. Too often, this message results in the violation of boundaries in the form of harassment, rape and abuse.
It feels dangerous for me to post this particular blog entry. I feel as though I might upset my parents or that I am not being “nice.” But I feel a responsibility to the child I was and the woman I am to speak up. I didn’t deserve what happened to me, nor do those people who are violated every day. You don’t need anybody’s permission to say, “no.” We owe it to ourselves and to each other to respect and honor our boundaries and the boundaries of others every day. We are important enough to do this.
I am important enough to do this.
Thank you for reading.