18. Boundary issues; control, power, territoriality issues; fear of losing control; obsessive/compulsive behaviors (attempts to control things that don’t matter, just to control something!); power/sex confusion.
Yes to all the above.
I think that there are a number of issues that contribute to having boundary, control, and power issues.
If we knew who was trustworthy, if we had a healthy self-esteem, if we had a history of being treated with respect and having appropriate boundaries respected by others, if we had a good level of safety in our life, than many of these issues around boundaries, power, and control would be much easier for anyone to deal with. They all contribute to the level of difficulty a survivor has with these issues.
It all starts with being abused. Beverly Engel in The Emotionally Abused Woman wrote that a sexual abuse survivor doesn’t have good boundaries because their boundaries have been overrun each time they were sexually violated and assaulted.
This helped me to re-frame this issue as one that I did not cause, one that I could heal from, and one that I could overcome. After being blamed for everything all my life, I realized I wasn’t to blame.
I had been told by my mother that I was defective as a person and that all my problems were due to my inherently defectiveness from birth. I did not remember that she did that, but I remembered on another level. All her cruel messages were a part of my inner negative messages tape that kept repeating over and over in my head. Learning about the dynamics of abuse and slowly being able to re-frame different aftereffects of abuse, allowed me to truly start healing on a deep level.
As abuse survivors we didn’t have our body boundaries respected. That had a huge impact on our lives. It would for anyone. It wasn’t about us or our unwillingness to heal.
We fear for our own safety. We try to establish boundaries without knowing what is appropriate or what is healthy. We don’t have the body integrity to do so. We don’t have the self-esteem and body image to do so.
We are trying, but we are in the dark about these issues, stumbling around. So it is common to be fearful. It is common to feel a need to control everything, in a world where that is not possible. It is common to not know who is trustworthy and how to trust, compounding all our problems. It is common to want to have all the power and to often having power abused against us.
I still have problems with boundaries. I have made huge progress in my boundaries. I try really hard to remind myself every day that I have a right to my boundaries. And that someone who invades my space, makes me scared, or acts disrespectful is not someone I need to have in my life.
One of my boundary problems is in saying no. And when I do manage to say no I have a problem in my no being respected and honored by the other person. I don’t feel stuck in that moment like I have in the past. I feel more capable of moving on and away from a stranger who is mistreating me in public and not being upset about it.
In the past I could be triggered for days over an incident in public or with a family member. I am getting better at leaving their issues with them, knowing that it is not about me, knowing that there are plenty of boundaryless people out there, knowing that my family have never respected me and have always scapegoated me and they are who they were trained and raised to be, knowing that being in public means incidents are bound to happen despite my best efforts to take good care of myself, it is about them and I don’t have to take them home with me, in my mind, to be tormented further. And that when I do take them home in my mind and I am still upset it is okay to talk about the incident until I have processed it and feel that I have been validated, honored, and that the process has empowered me, rather than keeping me stuck.
Knowing that I have come a long way, that I am okay, and I am going to manage my life just fine, no matter what. That is a new kind of power and control. That is a boundary that says I have the life skills to manage my life and to love myself, protect myself, keep myself as safe as possible and that all helps diminish the need for excessive boundaries, excessive needs for power and control, and excessive thoughts about it all.
It is still a path. I am still walking it. The view gets prettier every day.