It seems that in today’s world the word ‘boundary’ is doomed to be taken in one of two ways: Either it is demonized as a way of control, or it is taken to the extreme with people even considering asking consent from babies before they proceed to change the diaper. On my journey through my marriage with BPD, one thing has become clear – it would not work without clear boundaries.
‘Obvious’ is not a thing.
While the ‘neurotypical’ people on the planet might deem some things obvious, such as being polite and loving and not making insane, earth-shattering threats when they are angry, for us borderlines realities can be very different. Our lives have been colored in by the darkness of our past, the trauma we have gone through, and sometimes it can be very difficult to keep to these fairly simple and universal rules when the emotional storm hits.
From my own experience, I would be trying to make a fool out of everyone if I said that the following clear-cut boundaries were not needed, as well as the enforcement of them to make sure they stick as habits to replace my more drastic and hurtful ones.
Boundaries are there to make sure both parties of the marriage can rest assured that their limits won’t be pushed over and that some common rules of conduct are in place for a harmonious life together. There is no wrong with having clarity in this matter, no matter what some people may believe.
No abuse (towards self or other)
This is one of them no-brainers for most people. Unfortunately, when a borderline, such as myself, gets into a certain mode, it is pretty much impossible to predict what will happen. Will it be eggs tossed at walls, or maybe at you? Will the banshee scream about pain today, or perhaps it spins the wheel of fortune and lands on the motherload of verbal abuse towards your favorite person? Let’s be real for a moment, just me screaming is enough to hurt my husband since he has excellent hearing, so when it comes to me turning into a banshee it may be smart to gag me.
Of course, this goes both ways. Needless to say, I have never once been physically abused by my husband (thank heavens, I had enough of that in the past), and the verbal things should be looked at under a microscope to define whether it was a true thing or I just perceived something happening. I can happily let you know though, that while there is some royal tongue lashing from both sides, at least dear Mr. Vana never does it out of maliciousness, or the want to hurt me. The same can not be said about my own foul mouth in the heat of the moment.
When it comes to these extremely volatile situations, the best option is to call off whatever was going on and go cool down in our own respective corners. Maybe take a walk. Or if you are being wild enough at the moment, try a DBT technique of doing the exact opposite of the emotion for a while and see if it works. It’s incredible for me as a borderline to be a fuming ball of uncontained rage if I can manage to utter out the words ‘I love you’ and hug my husband. I’ve succeeded in it once. I think. Things get hazy for me at times.
A big part of borderline is the constant fear of abandonment, perceived or real. This makes it tricky for my husband to try and not be living like the floor is covered in broken glass, but he does a decent job at letting me know he is there. Every time he goes out, even when we are falling out, he tells me he loves me truly, and reassures me that he will come back. Actually, now that I think about it, he keeps reinforcing his love for me throughout the process of anger. It’s just too sad that I don’t seem to register it in those moments.
For me walking out on him is a real issue. It is my ultimate nuclear bomb and should never be used in a fight, yet I keep doing it. The reasons for this are in my ocean of hurt and I won’t go into them now, though I must tell you it is not because I don’t love him, it’s quite the opposite. I love him so much that I don’t want myself to be the thing that brings him down. Anyway, this problem is something I keep battling constantly.
Another form of abandonment is its emotional variant. The silent treatment, coldness, you get the idea. For me, this means that my husband withdraws to himself, which is understandable at times but will send me off into the land of loneliness. For him, it means that I will refuse his touch, his attempts to be near me. Is there anything sadder than two people who love each other that feel as though they can’t reach the one-another?
The remedy to this one is not simple at all, as things never are in these cases. Oodles and oodles of practice and self-searching are required on top of building positive habits to even try to fix this conundrum. For me, it means working diligently to try and identify my core issues related to the fear I have of never being enough, and thinking that he would be fine without me. I have value, and I need to know that even in my darkest hours.
The Red Zone
We all have times when some of our normal boundaries are abolished and replaced with new, more hard-core ones. In my case, there is one that comes to mind, and it gets put in place when I fall into a full-blown defensive panic attack. I say defensive because I have two main modes of panic: The aggressive defensive, and the paralyzing pain.
In my defensive panic I may easily lash out at anyone that invades my personal bubble, and so the thing to do is to stay out of my reach. There have been times when people get too close to me and I switch stances and demeanor to aggression like I am ready to deliver whatever blows I can, which in some unfortunate cases, I have. This is an extreme reaction to feeling very unsafe and being in a delusional realm where someone is trying to harm me.
So when I’m in the Red Zone, do whatever you wish, but don’t come and try to touch me. My husband likes to toss ice-cold water on me at times, it seems to somewhat snap me out of my stupor.
Keep it in the Marriage
The last boundary I would like to talk about in this post is our agreement to not be inviting trouble to our marriage in the form of long late-night chats with ‘friends’, as well as doing our best to not include outsiders in our marital disagreements.
We feel that it is not only uncalled for, since our business is ours and nobody else’s, but also breeds opportunity for meaningful bonds to be formed outside of our union. Oh but Maria, what’s so wrong with having meaningful bonds with other people?
When you spill your guts to your friend, especially if they happen to be of the gender you are attracted to, you will be pouring out your pain while getting comfort from the person. This is pretty much the most opportune chance for that other person to be imprinting you with feels and thoughts of how amazing they are, and how badly you have been treated in whatever the situation may have been. It gets worse when you are crying about your spouse to another person. In that case, your spouse will be shaded in darkness and the other one will be lit up as your consoler.
Romance has started with less. In our union, we have agreed not to let that seemingly innocent seed get a foothold. There will not be any heavy-duty bonding with others, especially the opposite sex, absolutely no flirting, and no ‘outings’ without both of us present. Might seem extreme to some of you, but personally, I’ve come to the conclusion that when I stepped into married life, my days as a flirtatious girl-gamer came to an end, and I am perfectly ok with it.
Though, there is nothing stopping me from bonding and having meaningful conversations with the man I love or being flirtatious with him, seeing as he is someone I find incredibly attractive and am certain could never possibly bore me, nor would he throw me to the wolves! I say it is the best investment for my time when contrasted with the risky business of ‘friendship’.