And on the 5th day of therapy my true shrink gave to me...a lesson about boundaries.

"If you can't handle me at my worst....then; good for you- I commend and respect you for setting healthy boundaries."

And on the 5th day of therapy my true shrink gave to me...a lesson about boundaries.

Quite frankly, it blew my mind. 

I always believed that boundaries were simple; you either had them or you didn't. I was wrong. 

Turns out, boundaries are complicated, and even more complicated for someone with a mood disorder like mine (or people with trauma, psychosis, ADD/ADHD, depression etc.) This is crucial, particularly because boundaries are how we navigate our most important relationships; familial, romantic, parental, professional, communal etc. 

There are three types of boundaries.

1. Rigid

    - Safe

    - No Budging

2. Flexible

3. Porous

    - Unsafe

    - Very Open

As human beings, it is natural that we fluctuate between all three of these different types of boundaries. Where it gets tricky is when we have a mental illness or a trauma and our fluctuations are less frequent, too frequent, or illogical. 

To get personal, I'll explain what I came to realize.

People see me as this person with really "Porous" boundaries. I'm open, I'm vulnerable. I can be inexplicably honest and open with the most unsuspecting stranger. It can even be charming. It can even look brave. It has given me some of the best friends I have ever had, it has cultivated some of my strongest relationships, and it has caused some of my bravest choices. However, those "Porous" boundaries, they don't last, not for everyone, not always and they often have led to my demise.

For people with mood disorders, specifically people with mood disorders who have trauma associated with attachment, we cling to people at first. We find connection, we seek it, we crave it, we find that fire, and we stoke it all night- with all of our might. But then, at a certain point, the fire, it gets too hot. The flames get too close. Maybe the flames even singe the denim of our pants or the bottoms of our jacket and we retreat. We may have stoked that fire for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, a few years, a few decades, but the fire has gotten too hot. 

So instead of just simply walking away from the fire, we walk from the fire but not until we have put it out, violently, with water, and ice, and salt, and sand. The salt of our words, the harsh sand of our actions, the ice fortress that we have built around ourselves so that no one can see in. So that no one can get in anymore.

One of my best friends recently said to me that she felt I had grown distant. I admitted that I had. We are in a pandemic after all, but I knew that for me specifically, this was true. She said that for me at times it feels like I build a wall of concrete around myself when I struggle and when she finally breaks through, she finds another layer of dry wall only to keep having to break through layers. 

It really hit me.

Because it was true.

I am far more rigid with the people who know me best, than the people who know me least- which is perhaps why I am so open in a blog. It's safer here- at an arms length. 

I don't truly believe in resolutions but I do believe in intentions. 

One of my intentions in the new year, will be to have more flexible and intentional boundaries.


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