I didn’t want to write about the ‘B’ word. There are so many other voices who can offer excellent advice, and understanding. Experts who have degrees, certifications and plenty of clinical hours to support their wisdom on this topic. I’m speaking of course about the word boundaries. I actually hate the word itself, because I have heard it TAUGHT in such a way that distorts the concept. Nonetheless, I’m just a girl – trying to figure out the true meaning of the word. I’m on this journey of wondering and practicing how I can change from someone who was living with NO boundaries – to living in a space where I live from a place of VALUE. I want to use my voice to say who has access to me, my time and resources. I want to be a girl that uses my voice to say, “no” and “yes” with great intention. I want to protect the TRUTH inside of me – no matter the cost.
As I have been listening to many women’s stories of survival, I hear that we all struggle with the same obstacles which block us from knowing we have enough VALUE to even define our boundaries, in addition, we experience the terror that comes with following thru on our boundaries – I noticed so many similarities that I just had to add my voice to this topic.
Based on these trends and my own journey, I realize there are three purposes to laying a boundary. In this 2-part blog, I hope to explore the purposes of these boundaries and what blocks us from knowing our VALUE – so that we can establish and follow thru with boundaries in all three of these domains:
- We lay a boundary to protect us from the impact of harm
- We lay a boundary to take responsibility for HER; her finances, her time, her energy, her emotions, her intellect, her resources, her health, her body
- We lay a boundary to SELF NOURISH and take a break from the pain
What keeps me from knowing I have enough VALUE to even establish a boundary?
Do these statements sound familiar to you?
“I’m not good enough”
“I don’t matter – everyone else matters – but I don’t”
“I’m selfish if I say ‘no’ “
“I don’t deserve to have good things happen to me – I deserve this abuse – God is punishing me. I must have done something wrong”
“I’m bad. I’m defective.”
“God doesn’t like me – I know He loves everyone else, but He doesn’t like me.”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“I’m his wife, aren’t I supposed to show him GRACE?”
If we begin our boundary work from a place of distortions. We will not be able to lay a boundary, because we will not view ourselves to be valuable enough to have boundaries. We will not know that we are SO VALUABLE we can take responsibility for HER (the woman God designed you to be), we will not know we are SO VALUABLE we deserve to be protected from all the anger, infidelity, lies and abuse, and leadership that asks us to lay down our lives in an unhealthy way. We will not know we are SO VALUABLE we deserve to self-nourish and take a break from the pain- to have safe community, or ask for help.
I want to tell you something: if those distortions sounded familiar to you. It’s not your fault. If you are reading this blog or attended a betrayal trauma support group; you have been on a journey, traveling back to yourself, finding the woman God designed you to be, before all these distortions came in the mix. You have been dealing in reality and finding your VOICE. You are learning that you have VALUE by identifying the lies that have been validated over and over from family dysfunction, your spouse and betrayal trauma.
You see, we cannot truly do boundary work until we understand and take back the FOUNDATION for it all: YOU HAVE VALUE. YOU MATTER. JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE. YOU HAVE VALUE because your CREATOR GAVE YOU VALUE.
“For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye” – Zechariah 2:8
“He found [her] in a desert land, And in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled [her], He cared for [her], He guarded [her] as the pupil of His eye.” -Deuteronomy 32:10
Hear me dear one; these distortions have kept you from living in TRUTH, but now, you are a TRUTH SEEKER. The trauma A’s and B’s have blocked your understanding that you have value, and when I don’t understand that I have value – I live a boundary-less life. Simply put trauma A’s are the things you deserved and should have received in secure attachment, but did not receive. For example; love, affection, affirmation, validation, belonging, support, encouragement, comfort, nurture, ect. Instead, these children with Trauma A wounds receive; emotional and sometimes physical neglect, emotional abandonment and disconnect, family secrets and “don’t talk” rules. Trauma B’s are the bad things that were inflicted upon you – things that should NEVER happen to another human being. Examples of trauma B’s include; gun shots, surviving a car crash, fire, physical abuse, hitting, beating, sexual abuse, ect.
69% of all sexual addict’s partners suffer from trauma. Can you relate to any of the trauma A’s or B’s? Could that be connected to why we don’t see ourselves as valuable enough for a boundary? The distortions clouded our mind of who we truly are. We learned ways to cope and adapt in order to survive childhood, but now these maladaptive strategies don’t work for us anymore and the distortions drive our boundary-less behavior. One author describes it this way:
“Since we aren’t supposed to talk about problems we begin to believe that if we admit to having problems, then there must be something horribly wrong with us that is not wrong with most people. If we admit to having a problem, we fear we will also be judged by others as weak and unhealthy. Ultimately, this results in a deep sense of shame about a very real part of everyday life, i.e., that we all have problems.” – Robert Suby
Fear of what other people may think keep the distortions in the driver’s seat and when the distortions rule our thoughts and our behaviors – we continue to live without boundaries and the messages of shame cause us to hide. Rather than seeing that we can live and walk in FREEDOM we live and walk in worthlessness. We do not recognize that we have value, consequently, the truth fails to be validated inside of us and we live boundary-less as a result.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy describes the relationship between a person’s thoughts, behaviors and feelings… What you think about yourself (the distortions or truth) effects how you feel – and in turn, how you feel effects what you do… what you do effects what you think about yourself (either validating the distortions or the truth) and the cycle starts over again. I’m a visual learner – so I had to draw a picture in my journal to describe what was happening to me as a situation arose in my marriage and I responded in a boundary -less way:
So, if my distortions are in the driver’s seat – I will continue to live from a place of worthlessness believing I don’t deserve to have boundaries OR I will begin to recognize the distortions, protect myself with boundaries and validate the TRUTH – living from a place of VALUE inside my boundaries.
For some of us the pain of Trauma A’s and B’s is even more complicated. Many of us have been groomed and trained to live a life without boundaries. We were told from day one that we don’t matter. Our wants and needs don’t matter, our opinion doesn’t matter, or own skin doesn’t matter, and our voice needs to be silenced. The distortions that we get from intentional grooming and training are even harder to break. My counselor likens it to leaving a ‘cult’ – you are literally up against brainwashing. The distortions and shame become a part of our DNA. I have used this quote before but it is worth repeating to truly understand my own struggle with boundaries and my value, “Sexually abused children, for example, believe they have no boundaries, that the doorknob is always on the outside of their door and they are on the inside with no right to set limits. Who they really are becomes lost in the avalanche of other people’s intentions and definitions of who they are.” – Nancy Groom
Dr. Henry Cloud says this, “When parents teach children that setting boundaries or saying no is bad, they are teaching them that others can do with them as they wish. The are sending their children DEFENSELESS into a world that contains much evil. Evil in the form of controlling, manipulative, exploitative people. Evil in the form of temptations. To feel safe in such an evil world, children need to have the power to say things like:
“No”, “I disagree.”, “I will not”, “I choose not to.” “Stop that.” “It hurts.”, “It’s wrong.”, “That’s bad.”, “I don’t like it when you touch me there.”
Blocking a child’s ability to say no handicaps that child FOR LIFE. Adults with handicaps have this first boundary injury: they say “yes” to bad things. This is called compliance.”
Wow. I read that quote from Dr. Cloud, and it’s no wonder I married the man that I did, complied and said ‘yes’ to the evil around me, and felt guilty and bad every time I tried to say “NO! your hurting me, that’s wrong.” Can you relate? This boundary work is DIRECTLY linked to what we were trained to do and the distortions we carry about who we are.
The Trauma A’s and B’s were not your fault. The grooming and training was NOT your fault! The state of your marriage is NOT your fault.
Let’s reclaim. Let’s live in the TRUTH. Let’s acknowledge our VALUE and begin to protect HER.
You are not alone.
The ‘B’ Word Part 2 Preview..
- Lay a boundary to protect myself from the impact of harm
When we are working so had to untangle ourselves from the distorted beliefs that have twisted us up inside. It is prudent to use boundaries in order to protect us from the behavior of others which would validate the lies rather than the truth.
Resources used for today’s blog: Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud, From Bondage to Bonding by Nancy Groom