Friday, May 25, 2007
If good fences make good neighbors...
A couple of days ago, I posted about my ink, but I noticed (because I’m an obsessive count checker) that a lot of people clicked on the “tear toilet paper” link.

I want to explain.

In Judaism there is something called a gezeirah, which is like a fence. It is a little fence around a law so that you don’t actually break a commandment. So, for instance, during Passover, you cannot eat matzah that might have been touched by water because it might rise and you might eat leavened bread which would be breaking a commandment.

The same thing goes for the toilet paper. Tearing toilet paper is not, in itself, work. It is however, something that is attached that you would detach thereby “making something”. While no part of the Torah ever deals with toilet paper and the tearing of such, this is one of those little fences, however inane it may be.

While these examples may not be the best, creating little fences around ourselves is important and I am learning how to build little fences better every day.

It appears that people with eating disorders have boundary issues. In fact, boundary issues are overwhelmingly the number one indicator of an eating disorder. It appears that most people with an eating disorder, whether binge eating disorder (BED), anorexia or bulimia experienced, “relentless boundary invasion” sometime in their childhood (tell me about your mutter).

So, it seems that rather than create any sort of confrontation with anyone, I have a tendency to say "yes." After all, it only hurts me and I know how I'll react but I don't know how anyone else will react and that is too scary so..."sure I'll help you carry your sleeper sofa up three flights of stairs!" or I'm fine sitting here eating my hair rather than telling you that I am very uncomfortable with you yelling at our waiter.

Boundaries - they're what's for dinner!

Michael, otherwise known as Boundary Man (ewww. Let's call him Boundary Guy for the sake of abbreviation), is my role model in this whole fence building thing.

I used to think he was crazy when he said things like, "If you don't want to go to your mother's house for dinner, just don't go."

My response would be a wimpering, "You don't understaaaaand. I have to go."

But as Boundary Girl, I realize that I am a 36 year old woman who gets her own paycheck and has for 17 years and frankly I don't owe anybody anything. If I don't want to go to dinner, I don't have to. I am Boundary Girl!

Seriously, this is a really new concept for me.

"I think we should have a team at the annual walk-a-thon. Do you want to take that on?"
Before BG - I say, "Sure! No problem!"

After BG - I say, "I'll do a lot of things, but I've done my share of walk-a-thons and I really can't do another one."

Complete stranger at Canter's Deli "You have such a pretty face! You should lose some weight."
Before BG - I say, "Ummmm.........................." Then go throw up.

After BG - "You should mind your own damn business lady!"

It's really hard to create boundaries. I'm afraid of hurting someone's feelings, making them feel bad. I realized though that not creating boundaries (and enforcing them) makes me not want to pick up my phone, answer email or participate in any normal social interactions because I feel raw and vulnerable. Like anyone can do with me whatever they will. Then I start feeling resentful and in the end, everybody gets screwed.

Whereas, when I do create boundaries, I feel like I stood up for myself. I feel like I'm the most important person to me. I don't feel guilty later because I have eight hundred thousand voicemails to return and I can get out of bed without worrying that someone is going to ask me to do something I don't want to do.

What a concept.

(some information from: Joanna Poppink, MFT)

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11 Comments:

Blogger Absurdity said...

Boundaries? What boundaries? Over the years, I have discovered that I actually *do* hate doing things to avoid confrontation, especially because it usually means I end up doing things I would rather not do. However, instead of establishing boundaries (what a novel idea!), I just go along with stuff I don't like and then silently fume about it either to myself or in the general direction of the person "making me do this thing I do not want to do."

Sigh.

Blogger crazyauntpurl said...

You are an every day inspiration to me.

As you know (maybe better than anyone else who has ever met me) I have giant boundary issues. Because of you, I sometimes remember I can say no, or not say anything at all. I try to remember that if Faith can do it, so can I.

I guess I just want you to know that because of you just living the best you can, I learn so much and learn to be more myself, too. Thank you.

Blogger miss kendra said...

i agree with purl.

i need more fences.

Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

It took me a long time to realize that I didn't have to be a people pleaser.

I realized that I have friends that like me no matter what. Lots of friends. I dont' really need EVERYONE to be my friend or to even like me.

"No" is an excellent word.

Blogger Melissa said...

Faith-thanks for commenting on my blog regarding your Doris Daymat. I hope you didn't mind me changing the mat pattern to a hdc. When I started it the twine just wouldn't cooperate. I'm going to make another one, this time following your pattern for the mat. I think the thinner twine might work with a different size hook. It's a great pattern and a wonderful project.

Blogger Laurie Ann said...

I think you need a cape and a mask, but not tights, because they are no woman's friend.

Look! Up in the sky! Trailing some yarn! It's, it's---BOUNDARY GIRL!!

Blogger Frank said...

Bravo for Boundary Girl!

Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

Great topic - and great examples, particularly the "Face" comment - If you dream of saying stuff like that but actually don't because it is more important to be polite than to let stranger walk on you, would that be a boundry issue?

Seriously, I am getting to the I can say no stage - but you haven't covered the vast VAST difference between saying, "I don't have to this" to say a co-worker or a stranger and saying that to the MOTHER (with her giant avalance of guilt mountain looming over her)

Blogger Abby Hansen said...

Rock on, sister woman!
"No" is a very powerful thing.
BTW, the next time someone suggests that you 'lose some weight', you should pat his or her own fat ass and say, 'After you, bubbelah.'

Blogger Msempower (aka Em) said...

Hey there,

I wrote about this recently. Hope you had a chance to read it:)

The 'B' word (ahem, boundaries). How I used to think 'boundaries' was a four letter word?

Boundaries = self-preservation.

Cheers to building as many as you need!

With care,
Em

Blogger dale-harriet said...

OK! Now I see why CAP (whom I love..I claim to be her midwestern bubbeh) loves you and now so do *I*. Lawsy but I'd love to take you two girls to tea. As a Jewish Girl of the 1950s, I was spared dealing with boundaries by being the Weird One - I was avoided, ignored, or slipped past. But now, at 64, I'm a regular jumper. BRING ON DEM BOUNDARIES! I actively look for them. Advancing Age has benefits you wouldn't believe. But in the meantime, to you AND CAP, you GO girls. You're doing brilliantly and now that I've found you, I'm as proud as if you were my own baby. (My daughter, by the way, a 41-yr-old Independent Woman, has just figured out the boundary thing too. I love all THREE o' youse)

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