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Learning Boundaries In My 40’s

Photo by Italo Melo from Pexels I had a breakdown in 2017 and finally sought help. I thought I had been managing life pretty well but it became overwhelming with my relationships failing. I was given a diagnosis of Complex Post-Traumatic Disorder (CPTSD), anxiety, and major depression. Last year they added Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD, […]

Photo by Italo Melo from Pexels

I had a breakdown in 2017 and finally sought help. I thought I had been managing life pretty well but it became overwhelming with my relationships failing. I was given a diagnosis of Complex Post-Traumatic Disorder (CPTSD), anxiety, and major depression. Last year they added Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD, a form of autism) and Borderline Personality Disorder traits. Not to mention that I was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder when I was 15.

This is a lot to deal with. PDD is a neurological disorder and they aren’t sure the cause. Some say bad ear infections can cause it. I don’t think I have ever had an ear infection. Others say that traumatic brain injury could be the reason. I can think of two situations in which I could have sustained minor brain trauma. When my mother was pregnant with me, she was in a car accident. The other is when she gave birth to me. She was technically dead for a minute. Who knows? It’s not like they were well-versed in this kind of stuff in 1975.

The one common theme about my mental and physical health is that I struggle with boundaries. I have a hard time setting them and respecting them. I have tried though. And the people I tried with, were no better at boundaries. Because I am female, I learned pretty quickly that my words and boundaries had no value. My first gynecological experience happened at nine years old. I had gotten an infection from Mr. Bubble (a powder bubble bath that is no longer made) and was bleeding. My mother noticed things weren’t right so we went to the Dr. No one spoke to me about what was about to happen. Instead I was held down by female nurses while a male gynecologist invaded my parts with the salad tongs of death. I was freaking out and was just forced down even harder.

After that I learned bad boundaries from my parents and society. Boys could freely touch me, no matter how many times I said no. If I told someone, it was my fault. If I reported, I would ruin his life. It also taught me how to become manipulative to save myself from being hurt and touched inappropriately.

All of this carried over into my romantic relationships. If I said no, the Man would do it anyway. If I said something hurt my feelings, I was being dramatic. Then Man would continue to do this. If I responded to these abuse tactics, I was overreacting and “crazy”. When I dished out the same treatment, I was labelled the abuser. Even if I was the one leaving and trying to rebuild my life. It has been a relentless experience and I would prefer to stay single for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be vulnerable with anyone ever again.

Which is also a not-so-healthy boundary. I run between two extremes. I keep people as far away as possible. Never let them know what is going on in my mixed-up brain. Never show emotion. Or if I decide I like someone, I fully become vulnerable too quickly and be destroyed emotionally when it doesn’t work out. Learning a healthy way of opening up to people is where I am right now. It takes a lot of practice and it is frustrating for me. Especially when certain neurological factors come into play (I need things to be just “right”, don’t stray from a plan, everything induces anxiety).

I am also learning that with my entire life full of unhealthy boundaries, I tend to feel more comfortable with people who have unhealthy boundaries. I am attracted to the “bad boys” who are alpha-males. Which is odd considering I have some alpha tendencies myself, due to the CPTSD. I like the strong man persona. A confident man who owns his surroundings. If he dares tell me what to do, how to do, or when to do, that’s over in a heartbeat. So far every guy in my past has tried to boss me around. Some I let do it for awhile and then had enough. Others tried it and pushed them away immediately. I want to believe that one day, I may meet someone who truly sees my value. For now, I don’t believe it will happen.

Even though I have lost faith in human beings, I am continuing to practice boundaries with current friends and my daily life. I do have to arm myself in my daily life though. I have had far too many men treat me as a sex object rather than a human being. That’s a boundary I don’t think I can let go of.

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