gratitude for the care and maintenance of personal boundaries
today I'm feeling so grateful to my past self for learning how to create boundaries.
and I'm feeling even more grateful to my past self for learning how to maintain those boundaries, even when my boundaries were (un)intentionally loosened, because it's in the remembering and reasserting of the boundary that the real work lies.
(this is a totally different example of remembering my boundaries, but it's relevant. remembering is a big part of the process.)
thank you, thank you, thank you.
I'm thinking about boundaries because of a dream I had last night, which I promptly forgot.
and I'm thinking about boundaries because of losing a friend that I wish (in retrospect) I had had clearer boundaries with.
and I'm thinking about boundaries because one of my personal boundaries is in helping myself limit my social anxiety and I needed to work on remembering how to do that this week. (ugh, replaying conversations in my head, over and over, not cool brain. not cool.)
and of course, I'm thinking about boundaries because I've been processing the uncovering of where my personal lines that can't be crossed are. and how knowing where those lines are is such a gift. (even when discovering them is deeply traumatic.)
which brings me to the question, can trauma be a gift? and of course it can, I answer. of course it will be, eventually.
but only because I will make it become a gift.
(I've recently heard this referred to as "ominous optimism." I didn't realize there was any other kind of optimism!)
whenever the idea of trauma as a gift comes up, though, I feel the need to add: it isn't a gift from the person who gave it to you, it's a gift to yourself, in the healing of it.
because I was told, repeatedly, that trauma was inflicted on me intentionally, "for your own good." and this is not at all, ever, ok. it is abusive.
(humans inflict trauma unintentionally all the time. when you know better, do better! changed behavior is a better apology than any words will ever be.)
I know from past experience that is in the healing that the gifts of that trauma are found.
in the processing, the realizations, the self-assurance that come, after, in finding out that one is whole in oneself, despite the scars.
(our scars are beautiful; they show our story.)
healing is, in itself, a process and can't be rushed or preempted. it needs care and tending. rest. time. space.
a wound that stays open won't heal. and a wound that is closed while it still has debris in it won't really heal, either. trauma care is as delicate and as painful as wound care. and as immediate.
(this is another reason why social justice is so very important to me, because whether the ongoing traumas of racism and bigotry and systemic hate will ever be fully healed until they are over is a question that is awful and traumatic. thankfully, there are people who specialize in that question and in the healing of those traumas. and I grateful for them.)
there's no way around that, if it's traumatic, it's awful.
I also don't buy into a hierarchical scale of trauma. of course, to the person experiencing multiple traumas they may be ranked, but for me to say that my trauma is bigger than another person's, or conversely, isn't as traumatic as someone else's, only serves to add unnecessary suffering to everybody's trauma. trauma is already awful enough. comparison isn't necessary unless there's a purpose for it. and I'm not seeing that purpose right now, for me.
(you might, and that's ok, for you. you do you. but only for you. or in your own post or article or book without sharing a link. I'll read what I need to read when I need to read it. you rock, if you're writing about this! but it may not be what I need right now and that's ok, too. write what you need.)
to me, trauma just fucking sucks. and right now I say fuck anyone who tells you otherwise or tries to belittle your trauma.
some of my current boundary setting and maintaining is recognizing a person who hasn't begun to heal their own trauma doesn't make for a good friend when you're going through the kind of summer I went through. this seems super obvious in retrospect, but it wasn't until after the shit really hit the fan and I needed help in dealing with it that it mattered.
when I say, "fuck 'em" it's shorthand to say don't listen/ pay attention/ care if someone else tries to belittle your trauma. that's a good indication that it's time to walk away. belittling is one of my lines in the sand.
and sometimes walking away is the best thing you can do for yourself. maybe even the only thing, while you're healing. to let the wound close without debris still in it, emotionally. who knows where you'll be in a month or a week or a year, but right here, right now, after-trauma-care requires straight up, no nonsense healing. that is, in and of itself, a gift to realize.
we can be toxic for each other and still be good human beings. I've never meant to be retaliatory, but of course, I have been. I am human. I've been a shitty friend, too. we probably all have, at one time or another.
we get defensive when we hear we hurt someone else, unintentionally. it's what comes next that matters.
it's setting real boundaries, not ultimatums that masquerade as boundaries.
the difference? here's a great article on it that I didn't write! "boundaries are limits you set for yourself... " "not about controlling or manipulating another person."
I'm pretty sure that anyone who manipulates other people like this intentionally would never read my blog and even if they do, wouldn't see their need to learn the difference between a boundary and an ultimatum and that's ok. I'm writing this for me. I'm writing this for you, if you needed to know.
life isn't simple and being human isn't either. and there may very well be humans that just aren't good, period. but that's not on me to judge. I'd rather maintain my belief in our innate goodness and walk away from the assholes. fuck 'em. if they did something illegal, may they be caught and may the consequences fit the crime. if they do heinous things, may they reap what they sow.
and if they're willing, may they find their own way to heal.
I'm not one to hold grudges. but I do believe consequences are a real thing.
I am two months (plus a few days) sober.
I didn't have a panic attack at the dentist this week. (it was rough, but not quite full on panic attack inducing rough.)
I started replaying dumb conversational mistakes I made in my head before going to bed a few times this week and then managed to stop myself. I'm human. sometimes I'm ridiculous and it's ok. sometimes I have verbal diarrhea. it's ok.
I went hiking four times this week.
(I'm really looking forward to going hiking again tomorrow. hiking is the biggest piece in my healing, right now, other than writing.)
I felt overly busy, because it was the first week of school but also bc I scheduled two dental appointments on the same day, accidentally. and that's also ok. some weeks are busier than other weeks and sometimes I forget to check my schedule to give myself a break. (and sometimes I'll forget I need a break.)
I let go of a lot of emotional baggage this week. I'm still letting go of emotional baggage. I'll keep letting go. there's a lot that isn't mine to keep.
I am practicing vulnerability by writing (and publishing) this blog.
anyone who reads this and thinks malevolently towards me is responsible for their own thoughts and behavior.
I bless you and release you and wish you well. you have no power over me and never will again.
may all beings become peaceful.
(may we never harm anyone intentionally again.)
may all beings become accountable.
(may we truly learn from our mistakes and not repeat them.)
may all beings become a blessing.
(may we work to fix the harm we have already done, if we can.)
I continue practicing being human, knowing I am enough, in and of myself.
I am human. and I practice being kind. and that is enough. I am enough, in and of myself.
my being alive (after all that I have been through) and still working towards tikkun olam (the repair of the world) is the only proof I need.