Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Progress of Boundary Betty

I hope it means progress when you can read something, laugh, and hang your head sheepishly and think, OMG, I could have written this!

From Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert 
Moreover, I have boundary issues with men.  Or maybe that's not fair to say.  To have issues with boundaries, one must have boundaries in the first place, right?  But I disappear into the person I love.  I am the permeable membrane.  If I love you, you can have everything.  You can have my time, my devotion, my ass, my money, my family, my dog, my dog's money, my dog's time - everything.  If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family.  I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check.  I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else.
She wrote this as an explanation as to why she chose to be celibate in Italy, of all places.  Where rampant sensuality vibrates off every fountain and marble edifice - and you can't turn around in Italy without bumping your nose (or other body part) on an edifice of some sort.

from Flickr Creative Commons
by xinem
Still, it makes perfect sense to me, as I have also embarked on a year of none.  Or nun, however you want to look at it.

Because I know for a fact, I'm too f#&ked up to even think about another relationship right now.  I'm working on my boundaries, and in some places they're pretty good, and in others they're better than they used to be, and in others... well, if they were a stone wall, a dachshund with a limp could hop over without scraping his belly.

Every self-help book and site and guru says: You need to learn to love yourself.

I get it.  In theory.  In practice... well... I'm taking baby steps.

I'm learning about intuitive eating, and not punishing myself with diets anymore.

I'm working on understanding my own "permeable membrane" issues when it comes to men, and "normal" boundary issues when it comes to family, friends, and co-workers.  Realizing I don't have to figuratively throw myself on the train tracks every time, in order for people to like me.

I can set limits for what I am and am not willing to do for someone, and that doesn't make me a bad person.  

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Of course, to set limits, that means I have to explore what my own thoughts and feelings are.  This means a fair amount of solitude and reading and meditation, which is just not real do-able when one is involved with a new lover (or even an old one.)

I'm trying to be kind and patient with myself.  That means goals, but not harsh ones.  I'm doing things I enjoy, but also do stuff I have to, like household cleaning.  Because I truly can't take as much delight in my wonderful own apartment with all my favorite things around me, if I am up to my ankles in cat hair.  (Mind you, the things I have left out of place, the dirty dishes I have occasionally left in the sink, would curl OCPD ex-bf's hair.  He-he-he.)

Speaking of OCPD, I did create a list for self-help (do I need Frontline for my fleas?):
  1. Figure out there's a problem.
  2. Research how to deal with it.
  3. Implement a solution - and if one doesn't work, tweak it or try something else, or a combination of things.  (Hey, if a combo plate works in a Mexican restaurant, why not in my head?)  
  4. Practice the solution over and over until it becomes habit.
The one thing that throws me is, seems like there is so much to work on.  And I can't just do 1-2 things, compartmentalized and completed separately, before moving on to the next "thing."  I need to integrate mindful eating and better boundaries and learning my limits and a whole bunch of other things, because I need to become a whole, integrated person.

Or at least, a person on her way to becoming a whole, integrated person.  Not thinking I will ever reach the finish line and be done, in this lifetime.

What goals are on your combo plate?
And how are your boundaries today, hmmm?
Leave a Comment or Reaction and let me know.