by Cindy Teevens and Kai Madrone
In order to co-exist together, we must have certain boundaries, like not harming, not killing, not stealing, etc. The world has natural consequences, and it is only fair that we be made aware of them before receiving them. If one did not tell a child to not do certain things, but then went around punishing them for doing them, would that be fair?
That is quite often what adults do to each other. We set ideals, rules, and expectations, without communicating them. Then when these unknown, unspoken boundaries are crossed, we blame the other.
How can trust ever be established in this scenario? Without trust, how can true love ever blossom?
All this time they thought they knew who you were, and what the relationship was about, then suddenly there’s an about-face which they don’t understand.
Suppression is a Volcano
This dynamic is all too common in partner relationships. It’s not the people who are attached to things going their way who suppress violation and later blow-up; they are constantly demanding and using anger to get what they want. It’s the people who want to detach, who think they should just be “spiritual” and get over it, or ignore violation, who suppress their attachment. Sometimes those who suppress never blow-up. Instead they just get more and more mentally ill, losing themselves, their friendships, family and their lives in the relationship, becoming depressed or even suicidal. Sometimes they are even murdered, because no matter how good you are, no matter how much you allow or ignore, it’s never enough in these relationships–for the simple reason that the other person’s behavior is not about you. Rather, it is always is about your partner’s inner fear and basic dissatisfaction with themselves.
Spirituality can be interpreted in a way that renders one a “doormat,” as though spirituality calls for having no preferences or boundaries of one’s own. But even awakened people draw boundaries, and take action to benefit the ecological whole. Spirituality is not about “not rocking the boat,” out of fear of what might happen. Nor is not about “being bigger” by accepting someone’s imposition upon you. True spirituality is about being free from both “toward” desires and “away” fears–free from mental-emotional attachment to what has happened, and what might happen. Free from fear. It is about fully showing up to how life shows up, and doing what needs doing, no matter how you feel about it. It’s about taking care of life–and that includes your work, income, health, children, the dishes, the garbage, and your relationships.
It’s about being free from inner resistance of any sort, so that you can take wholistic action for improvement. It’s about not acting out of fear of the actions of another, but from clear understanding. It’s about doing what needs doing, without attachment, without anger, and without shrinking.
Boundaries have as their intention your health, safety, and happiness, as well as those of others. Boundaries do not demand that others be a certain way, or do, or not do, certain things in order for you to be happy. That way of operating is abuse. Detach and be happy first, then look again at the situation and relationship with open clarity and wisdom, and your actions will be in alignment in the best interest of the whole.
The Difference Between Abuse (Attachment)
and Healthy Boundaries
Is someone who does not want you to go to certain events or gatherings drawing their own healthy boundary, or imposing their fears on you? What’s the difference? This can appear to be a very blurry line. Here’s how you can tell: Do they have an adult tantrum if you want to go? Yelling, name-calling, guilt, manipulation, threats (and even, eventually, physical violence)? If so, they believe their happiness is dependent upon you not going to an event, dependent upon you doing what they want. That is attachment. Not a healthy boundary.
Attachment “benefits” only one of the partners, and harms the other, and harms the relationship overall. (“Benefits” is in quotes here because it only appears to be a benefit. They get what they think they need to have, but in truth this “success” is damaging to the partner, the relationship, and feeds the suffering attachment strategy and cycle in themselves, thus keeping them under stress. Always needing something from another is an unhappy way to live and relate–it actually keeps one unhappy!)
Throwing an adult tantrum to get what you want, because you have decided, for whatever reason(s), that you can’t be happy if your partner doesn’t comply with what you want, results in a very unhealthy, unhappy relationship. These types of relationships wither and rot, as the happiness-through-need strategy only escalates over time, shrinking the life of both partners, and resulting in one partner feeling like they are “walking on eggshells,” and the other partner working harder and harder to maintain their position of control.
Love cannot grow where fear exists
Boundaries respect and free both partners. Attachment imposes upon your partner.
Something you cannot do to me (or my family or friends, etc.), to make me do, or not do something.
Something you must do, or not do, for me, or I will be unhappy.
Does you going to an event impinge upon your partner somehow? Does this “boundary” of theirs protect them from some actual, real, in-the-moment harm?
Do they take their personal preference and present it as a factual truth, implying or stating that your preference is “inappropriate” or “not right”?
You may be in an abusive relationship.
If we do not set boundaries, we will suffer
If we do not set boundaries and we are in a relationship with someone who is attached to what we do or don’t do, we will soon find ourselves in an unhappy, abusive relationship that only gets worse over time.
What to do if you find yourself in either of these roles
Suppressing: Begin to share your preferences, share the truth the impact a tantrum has on your life, and that this is not acceptable for you, and will not work with you. First practice Alchemy, and detach from fear of what might happen, then draw your boundary. Gradually (because this is how you will likely do it), do more and more of what you want. Start speaking the truth of what is going on, without making excuses. Open your world, reconnect with friends and family. Get the support of people who know what you are going through, and who can help you, like counselors.
Attaching: Notice your fear. Question its rationality and value. Learn to use Alchemy to shift your state from fear to peace. Encourage your partner to do the things and see the people that they want to. You will act less out of anger and fear, and people will start to warm to you and appreciate you more.
You cannot change another, but you can, and must, take care of yourself–for the sake of yourself and others.
NOTE: If your relationship has already escalated to physical violence, please get the help of the police and/or a shelter for abused people.
Not sure if you are participating in an abusive relationship? Or just want to stop the insanity?
Book a Discovery Call with Cindy to explore, and break-free. Click here.