Tag: boundaries

A Child without Edges

A Child without Edges

art by Molly Brett
Fairy Artwork by Molly Brett – click on image for more info.

A childhood of abuse or neglect sets the stage for an adult who does not know who they are. Healthy boundaries are either a mystery or non-existent. They are either too rigid or too fluid. When we don’t know who we are, we may unconsciously cling to the rules and belief systems that were imposed on us as children, or we borrowed them from an external belief system such as a religion, a political party, or a social group. It gives us a sense of identity and security. It gives us the edges we are unable to create from within as children.

Or, we may exist without edges and live the life of an emotional and psychological amoeba. In this case, we allow whoever or whatever is in our life at any given moment to take up residence within us. We live in a constant state of reaction to, rather than action toward. Never having learned to validate our own wants, needs and desires, we wander aimlessly through life falling victim over and over again to the whims, desires and manipulations of those who don’t hesitate to tell us what our boundaries should be. The child who is ignored, drowned out, or in any other way taught to ignore her own inner voice and guidance, is a child without edges and a child doomed to suffer as an adult.

These two different reactions to abuse are a match made in heaven. They attract one another like iron to a magnet, perpetuating the chain of abuse in an endless dance. The rigid must constantly remind themselves and all with whom they come in contact, of what they believe and who they are. Beneath this drive is the unconscious fear that without constant feedback and validation they would crumble and disintegrate. It’s a life or death activity that keeps the veneer in place.  What better way to do this than to seek out those with porous boundaries, who are looking for their edges, who are willing to be influenced, and who have learned not to question or challenge?

If, however, we have the opportunity to see, sense or become aware of the ember of our real self that still glows in the recesses of our heart and soul, we can begin the exciting, albeit terrifying journey of self-discovery. We must go back and raise ourselves, give ourselves the adult guidance and structure that allows our inner child to blossom.

We once had our very own responses to life. We once had our own thoughts, our own feelings, our own deep physical and emotional expression of all that we are. We can have it again.

The disassociation I experienced after the accident was the most extreme expression of my own disconnection from myself, though it began much earlier. It is an utterly terrifying feeling to be without boundaries, to feel utterly powerless and helpless. How many children feel this way every day of their lives? How many of these children grow up to be deeply troubled adults?

As a victim of abuse or trauma, finding a connection to oneself is an ongoing challenge, but one that is not only essential but worth the effort. When we heal our own suffering, we stop the cycle. It’s time to stop the cycle of abuse.

In Search of My Edges

Still Learning

In Search of My Edges

In Search of My Edges

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I’m trying to find my edges. The perfect unfolding of a new beginning, a new drama that is directed only by me.  As daft an attempt as this might be, it quickens my spirit and draws me forward. The edges of me, the beginnings, the ends, the boundaries of my soul  lend shape and substance to an otherwise chaotic world.

I came with edges and boundaries. I gave them away, bit by bit, piece by piece, in order to live. I made a bargain. Let me live and I will pretend I don’t have yeses and nos, definition or substance, thoughts, ideas or places to be. Let me live. Just let me live, and I will pretend I am you.

The driving force to live trumps all else, at least for me. I didn’t realize when I made the deal what a dark morass of pain and emptiness could roll in behind such an agreement.  The suffocating despair of giving up one’s soul for an opportunity to breathe the air. I wonder now if I would make such an agreement again. Sadly, I think I would. There’s so much beauty in the world, to see, to touch, to feel, to taste…even in silence…even in utter darkness. There is light…an ember…warm, smoldering love…even in darkness.

I’m looking for my edges. So I can stand again and know the name that lives in me and I in it. I’m carving a path toward definition, toward understand, toward peace, where truth is me and I am it.  Truth knows my edges. My edges know the truth. It’s holding on that’s difficult. It’s not allowing porosity to perplex me.

I have known what it is like to feel the weight of myself, the certain, unencumbered definition of me, no questions, only answers. But, like the magnificent loblolly pine, I know that enough wind will bend and even break me in two, sheer off a branch, or topple me entirely.  My roots are shallow too, and I’m never certain that I can withstand a storm of a certain magnitude. Unlike the loblolly, I find it difficult to bear the scars and still stand tall and proud, as if I were invincible.

The fortitude that is required to find and sustain my edges has yet to be determined. I suppose we can’t ever know how much of a thing we will need until we need it.  I stand in awe of the complexity of human nature , the knotted, tangle of nerve endings that propel a man like Robin Williams to make the choice he did. Was it a dialogue not dissimilar from those that often play in the far reaches of my own mind? Or is it just as simple as, enough is enough. Perhaps one can be defeated by a pain that finds its source in the mind, or a sickness of the soul that defies diagnosis and treatment.

I wish he’d chosen to dig deeper,  to hang on, to look for hope, to create a happy ending. It’s a selfish wish, but it would make it easier for those of us who live on the edge of darkness to believe we can make it too, especially since we can’t imagine being as magnificent , or strong, or as fully human as he was to us. And yet, maybe he knew his edges better than I know my own. He chose his precise limits, his very own no, in the most potent of ways. Perhaps it was the boldest statement he ever made. The truest truth for him. An absolute line in the sand. This…is me. Maybe it was the very first time he ever said yes to Robin.

I want my yes to be different. I want to find my own happy ending and I want it to be more like what I imagined for him. Still I honor his freedom to make his choice. My fear is that he really did not have a choice and that he really was not free. It is the same fear I have for myself.

Yes-sand-line

Still Learning

Still Learning

HydrangeaWhen I stop and close my eyes and breathe in what peace I can find around me…in the breezes that blow, the hum of the chime as the air lifts it in song…I find fear when I want desperately to find comfort. It is a hard journey finding my way out of fear. It nips at my heals and haunts me at every turn. Just when I think I’ve escaped it, it’s back sitting beside me on a quiet evening.

I’m surrounded by beauty. Lush green trees, fields of grass, the sun low in the sky casting its golden touch across everything. The mountain air is fresh and the smell of boxwood lingers on the breeze. There’s everything to be grateful for and yet, I want to run away, to hide, to stop trying, to stop yearning to be something. I want to rest and be satisfied. I want to be enough just as I am.

But the fear awakens my fight or flight response and makes me want to move, to do, to try again, and yet, I know it won’t work this time either. Running frantically never does. The fear locks me in its trance and mounting desperation clings to my throat.

Fear, or more precisely, the feeling of not being safe takes over and when I look deeply into its eyes. I realize the feeling is more that I don’t know how to protect myself. The unknown is shapeless and threatening. My edge-less, boundary-less being seems only to be able to lie in wait, vulnerable to any attack, and there’s no way of knowing from which direction it will come.

I am still learning. Still defining myself and learning to live from within. Still seeking my edges, my truth, while standing in love. New lessons come almost every day, as long as I stand open to change and movement and learning.

Knowing where we begin and end, and where another begins and ends, is a lesson that most wounded children must learn. Wounding causes one to put up barriers of protection, to pull back within oneself, to create false facades to fool the oppressor, which once defined morphs into the planet at large. As children, we feared. I feared. I feared the utter alone-ness that became my constant companion.  Not known, not allowed to acknowledge what I saw in others. Isolation. Annihilation.  I learned to pretend that I was wrong and they were right so as not to feel alone.

To begin to speak one’s truth, to state clearly what one knows to be true is to begin to find our edges. To stand up for that truth as we grow stronger, to state ever more clearly what we see and know and experience and our edges stronger. It’s one thing to know oneself. It’s another entirely to bring it forth into the world.

And the process of healing continues. For a lifetime, or longer.