People without boundaries get angry when you start setting them.
When I was a child, my boundaries were crossed all too often and because I was dependent on the boundary-crossers for survival, I had no choice but to allow it. As an adult, I didn’t know I had a choice–until recently. The last decade has been a journey to Self by laying down the shit that’s not mine to carry…like generation after generation of abusive behaviors and actions.
It stops here.
People are angry with me for stepping out, for saying “This doesn’t feel healthy to me” and for not engaging in those situations. They try to make me feel guilty with some false sense of nobility–“This is family, you should (insert guilt inducing activity.)”
Family. Those are the people who trampled my boundaries in my toddler years and continued to do so (and still do, to this day.) These are the people that believe they get a pass on their bad behavior because they’re related. They believe things passed down to them (just like I did.)
The truth is that boundaries are healthy for families.
People are uncomfortable when I speak my truth. It makes them squirm when they hear me talk about the abuse I endured. Maybe they didn’t know my abusers as abusers. They don’t want to believe it. They don’t want to hear it. They want me to shut up.
They want to shut me up.
That’s their road.
It’s not up to me to change their minds or prove to them I’m telling the truth. It’s not my responsibility to help people accept that I was abused. Maybe they were abused as well, it’s quite likely given that we shared space with the same people. Maybe they like to keep their problems hidden under the rug or maybe they feel more comfortable being the victim.
I get it. I was there, too.
I hid things, like I was supposed to. Like I was taught to. I hid in my toy box. I hid under the stairs with the spiders. In our house there was a 1970’s empty brick planter in the entryway that was normally piled high with coats that I hid in, There was a space in the wall across from “the bricks” that was meant to be a fireplace, but it was just an empty hole in the wall that I hid in. I hid in the doghouse with my favorite dog. I hid in the woods by our house, I hid at the playground at school. As I got older, I played hiding games. We played “Ditch” around the neighborhood–a pre-teen version of hide and seek. When I got my license I played “Fox” a teen version of hide and seek with CB radios. I hid at the beach, I hid at my friend’s houses.
I started hiding with alcohol when I was 12. I drank to lose control but I couldn’t lose control. No matter how drunk I was, I was still in control. There was no hiding. And then I wanted to die. I read books like Carrie and Thirteen is Too Young to Die. I wanted Lupus so I would have a reason to die. I fantasied about how amazing life would be if I was dead. I tried to take my life, but something always stopped me. Like I wasn’t allowed to die. Like I had to keep facing these abusers and keep kissing their dead bodies in their coffins because “this will be the last time you ever see them.”
No. Because I see them in my mind and in my dreams and in my distorted and warped life. I see them every day. I see them in the foods I eat and won’t eat. I seem them in the clothes I choose to wear because pants and tight jeans make it super hard for sexual predators to put things down there that don’t belong. Dresses are a wide open invitation for violation. But dresses are for girls and it’s not ladylike to wear jeans and have short hair and like sports. Then I don’t want to be a lady, because the ladybits are what is attracting this unwanted, uncomfortable behavior from adult men who aren’t supposed to do this sort of thing and I don’t want to be lady.
Then I was the victim. When my first abuser died, I watched the whole family cry and grieve and mourn…and I was relieved. Even the ones who saw the repeated behavior and knew it was constantly happening were sad and upset and hurt. I was not. That was the beginning of the separation. I was still very young, though, and without guidance, so I did the best I could. I pretended that I was sad for them because when I wasn’t, they were uncomfortable. I started keeping a journal and blaming everyone. All of those who knew what was happening, all of the people who should’ve helped me and didn’t. I blamed them and then I blamed God and then I blamed myself. That brought the anger. The rage. The fury.
And doctors wanted to send me to mental facilities and drug me.
Because something was wrong with MY behavior because my boundaries were destroyed and people used my body like a sex toy. Because everyone put the blame on me with their actions, in-actions, and unwritten rules of conduct.
Every time I tried to escape it and get away from it, someone from the family would bring the guilt to my table. So and so is dying, you *have* to visit. So and so is getting married, you cannot miss the wedding, they’re family. So and so is having a baby shower, you *have* to go, they’re family. You can’t stop talking to so and so, they’re family. You don’t do that. It’s not right. They’re family.
Let me just say this once and for all. Fuck family. (and for those who need direction, this is not my angry voice. This is my calm, it’s time to stand in my truth voice.) Fuck this idea that because we are related I have some obligation to continue with the fuckery that goes on within the dysfunctional walls of someone else’s definition of family.
This is me, no longer hiding, no longer being a victim, and no longer blaming.
This is me saying I take responsibility for my health. My mental, emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual health. This is me saying if you don’t like my life-choices, my boundaries, and my decisions to enter into healing, it’s ok. You’re allowed to not like me, or not like what I say, or not like what I do. You’re allowed to feel everything that you feel. As a matter of fact, I recommend it. And maybe it’s good that I hold a mirror up to the illusions. Maybe you’ll recognize that the things we’ve been taught are untrue.
Because it’s not that I want things to be this way. Believe me, I’ve been trying to change this since I was a little tiny girl. I’ve been trying to fix the family since the moment I was born–and that’s no exaggeration. I was born into people wanting to kill themselves and was heralded as the “one who saved me.”
How many times did I try to save those who wanted to be dead?
How many times did I rush to their sides?
How many nights did I sleep in hospitals?
How many empty bottles of alcohol did I secretly dispose of?
How many secrets did I keep?
How many affairs did I witness with my own young eyes?
How many letters did I hide in my top dresser drawer?
How many empty pill bottles did throw away?
How many deviant sexual acts did I endure?
How many punches did I take to save someone else the pain?
How many drug dogs did I turn loose in houses so there would be no surprises for the rest of you?
How much sick porn did I throw away so you wouldn’t see it?
How many lies did I keep for you?
To make you comfortable so that you wouldn’t have to deal with this mess?
How many nights did I soothe those with unspeakable nightmares?
How many times did I stare down the business end of a weapon not knowing if I would live another moment?
I get it. I get that my stepping out and away makes you uncomfortable. It’s not been easy for me. I own that I have caused you pain. But like childbirth, some pain is necessary. I’m choosing the pain that brings joy, just like labor pains are the prelude to the purest love a person here can feel. Rather than choose the constant pain and agony of the past, I choose the present life-giving pain of separation. As a baby separates from the mother’s womb, it’s a painful, traumatic ordeal. But in the end, it’s all worth it.
I hope peace and love are found for those on the other side of my boundaries and separation.
It’s time for me to step into the light.
Whether or not others are ready or accepting of that is none of my concern.
I wish no one harm or malice. There are just some situations here on earth that require physical separation. Like a baby can’t live in the womb forever, I can’t stay in the darkness I’ve been in.