On Boundaries

Having good boundaries means you are going to feel people pushing bumping running bouncing pressing off of them, in other words: making contact. People are going to make contact with you. That’s the reason to have boundaries in the first place. It will not feel like outer space neutrality; it will not be as if no air has entered or exited the room. It will not turn “hard” into “easy.” It will not make difficulties disappear, caught in some chainlink fence while you stand yards away in the background, barely registering their presence from afar. You are the boundary. You are the fence. You are the thing, both caught and catching. You are the boundaries you hold. You will shift, because you will have found your footing, and then the world will continue to change around you, often approaching and sometimes at unbearable speeds. There is north, south, east, and west: how often are you facing one of them, after all? It is likely that no matter how restful you are even in this moment, there is a world somewhere approaching. 

The world continues to change around you whether you have good boundaries or not, but the point is that good boundaries do not stop the world from changing, do not translate into an experience of not ever seeing or feeling or otherwise sensing the difficult approach of another. They do not stop others’ existing, they simply protect the fact of your own.

Others may not understand your boundaries, or may not take the time to notice them, or might not even be equipped in the first place to recognize a boundary not of their own making. Boundaries won’t prevent contact with those who would attempt to break them: instead, they prevent the wrong kind of non-contact: the kind that smushes you: so that it’s like you’re gone: the kind where you perpetually fall backwards because it feels like the only way to keep the other person from climbing aboard you and doing all the terrible things that people do while standing on top or inside of your bubble (they pressure, they force, they think poorly, etc.). 

Some people will think poorly of you no matter how good you are, and their poor thinking does not mean a thing about your good goodness. This is called, “boundary.” How many times has a boundary gone extinct in response to the fear of poor thinking? It will feel a little uncomfortable because you are alive and good, which naturally makes one dream of perpetual openness. It is always a little uncomfortable when one living thing encounters another, even if they are both good and yet still different. Uncomfortable but riveting, like air coming and going. Like the moon in a different position every single night, shocking no matter how hard you try to understand the science behind its patterned movement. You don’t need to understand the moon or the difference between you and it and you don’t need to justify your boundaries and you don’t need to circle every single good feeling with a pen that outlines it entirely just to make it real. You don’t need to know about a good feeling to feel it. You mustn’t describe a good feeling just to fill up entirely with its contributions. You can brace yourself, choose to exist firmly, choose where your doors and windows are, let the feelings come and go and be a person occasionally associated with poor thoughts by those outside you. Who cares. Disappoint them! Boundaries won’t rid the interactions of all discomfort. They will turn the discomfort into fruit. They will make it so that even on your lowest feeling days, when the world seems constructed without your input, you might still find something sweet and earth-born waiting for your mouth. 

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