Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Better boundaries, fewer rules

A couple of posts back, I talked about an Enneagram workshop I had gone to and some learnings about being a One. Today, I was at the monthly meeting of the Soul Strippers group I belong to, and we were talking about things we might want to manifest in the New Year, not as projects or as tasks, but more ways we wanted to be in the world. After I'd done a little writing on this, I realized one of the things I wanted was better boundaries and fewer rules.

We Ones are very rule-bound. We have learned that this is a hedge against chaos, against the unpredictability of life and of other people and so we are most comfortable when we know the rules and when others follow them. I've known that for sometime. My relationship with the rules is what makes me a One. But until today I hadn't connected my need for rules with my relationship with boundaries in relationships.

In my past, I've not been very good at boundaries. I have had a tendency to take responsibility for others' behavior and others' well-being, co-dependency at its worst. This was true with my romantic partners. I tolerated a lot of hurtful behavior, putting their needs before my own for fear of losing them. And I was always trying to re-establish the rules, getting them to agree to things. Sometimes they humored me, sometimes not. But the rules never lasted. Boundaries were an issue with my mother and they have been an issue more recently with other mother figures in my life, including 12-step sponsors. Mostly in all these cases, I've given up my power in order to have rules.

And I'm seeing that intimate relationships are lived in the emotions and rules come out of the head. Talk about a disconnect.

It may be that those of us with a tendency to addiction have an increased issue with boundaries. That it takes a certain degree of emotional health to do that well. I know that in these last several years, I have had the courage to set boundaries with friends, clients, and acquaintances in ways that would never have occurred to me before. Doing this has not been easy and it has not resulted in happy endings. But it has resulted in a new kind of strength and clarity for me.

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