I’m going to skim the surface of a topic I don’t often talk about and that is my previous relationships and everything that goes with it.
Boundaries, we create them before, during and after a relationship. The boundaries I have created were formed as a way of protecting myself from either experiencing a hurt/pain that I had already experienced (from my other life experiences) or experiencing a new kind of hurt/pain (from relationships), either way I was extremely protective of myself. Then obviously when you get into a relationship you create some new boundaries but these boundaries are usually formed with your partner or with your partner knowing, however I struggled with this. Then there comes the boundaries you create after a relationship ends and holy shit, do I now have a lot of boundaries (but I am working on decreasing the amount).
The boundaries I had before I had any sort of relationship were boundaries I had created due to the traumas I had experienced, these were personal boundaries. They didn’t involve anyone else, they were just lines that I could not cross because if I did, I could experience a whole world of pain, hurt and confusion but when you’re getting to know someone, well, you’re getting to know them and they wanted to get to know me more than I was allowing them to know. One of my boundaries was ‘I can talk about my dad but only his death’, (pretty dark I know) but I knew my dad’s death was largely responsible for a lot of my actions, emotions and thoughts, so I always believed that if I explained the day of his death, it would then explain why I was the way that I was, without me having to actually verbally explain it to them (I just kinda hoped that they would get it…but surprisingly they didn’t) because if I had to verbally explain that to them in detail, that would lead to me releasing a shit storm of thoughts and emotions that I had worked so hard to keep buried to myself and I would then experience the pain, hurt and confusion all over again, and that is how that boundary was formed.
Of course there were a few who made it past my personal boundaries but I then created many boundaries whilst in the relationships. The relationships weren’t great to say the least and I still had a lot of personal boundaries that I point blank refused to break but my previous relationship was the most intense, the first love type of relationship (although afterwards you realise it surely could not have been love). I relied on him to pick me up, he was like a drug that I was addicted to and he knew that. He knew that I would do absolutely anything for him and he could do the bare minimum for me, which sometimes I would kick up a fuss about, but he near enough always got away with it because at the end of the day he knew I needed him more than he needed me so he knew what to say to me to either make me drop the subject, apologise or just let him off. I was so severely depressed, riddled with anxiety and constantly getting reminded of my past which I was in the relationship and he saw, heard and experienced all of it with me which broke a shit load of my boundaries, but I still had a lot of emotional boundaries.
My emotional boundaries related to my past experiences with boys as a whole. My previous experiences with boys impacted me in a few different ways, if the experiences had been or were present in my head, my ability to be intimate wasn’t great and it was something they couldn’t understand. I remember a couple of times in my previous relationship, we were going through a rough patch because he wanted to get through my emotional boundaries, so I tried to break them down for him (I honestly can’t quite describe how difficult and how shit it was for me to try and do) but because my emotional boundaries mostly related to previous boys, he couldn’t fucking stand hearing about them, so my attempts to open up to him, were met with jealousy, anger and a huge lack of understanding which of course did the relationship and me no favours.
Then after my relationships I created even more boundaries because the pain from the relationships and pain from the heart breaks were too much, I never wanted to experience that again and I lost the plot after the break up. I went through a wild phase (which is a story I will tell in the future) which was then followed by an avoidance phase which was then followed by emotional unavailability. During my wild phase I feared being alone and/or rejected. I had been convinced by my ex and I then convinced myself, that he was literally the only person for me, he was my one and only and he would be the only person to ever love me and no one else would ever understand me like he did which I genuinely believed and one of my biggest fears throughout my whole life back then was being on my own and ending up alone, which was a fear I had openly expressed to him.
Not long after my wild phase I had my mental breakdown and started therapy, this was when I went through my avoidance phase. During this time I avoided all contact with the male species (excluding family and my best friends of course), I wanted nothing to do with them but it wasn’t because of resentment or hatred, I just felt nothing, it was as though that side of me had been completely switched off and it felt as though a part of me had just died. This phase lasted for just over a year and I basically avoided anything that could potentially wake up that side of me till one day (it was actually around the same time I wrote Intimacy which is an important article to me) I sat down and evaluated myself. I was open about my dead love life to other people but it wasn’t till I actually put the pieces together and realised that it wasn’t necessarily a lack of interest, it was avoidance because of what I had been through and this fear that was created because of it so I created all of these boundaries that didn’t even allow anyone to come near me.
Eventually I got through that phase and I then went on to become emotionally unavailable which is something I think many people go through after they have experienced the pain and hurt of a relationship. My boundaries were mostly ‘You cannot kiss them because that is too intimate’ and ‘You cannot open up to them because that is too personal’. When you allow yourself to be emotional with someone, in whatever way you are being emotional with them, you are expressing vulnerability and that is something I still fear now. I can be so fucking open about my life, but when it comes to intimacy/relationships I can’t do it because it feels like I am openly telling that other person different ways they can manipulate or abuse me for their own gain and I know it might sound ridiculous but that is what it feels like, so I created a heap of new boundaries to try and protect myself from experiencing what I have already experienced.
I’m at a point now where I still have boundaries but I am willing to bring most of them down for the right reasons and to the right people. It’s still difficult for me to do and I know that I have things to work on when it comes to this subject but I’m getting there.
It’s good to have boundaries, whether they are personal for you or your relationship but please make sure they are healthy and are for good reasons (and if you do have relationship boundaries, please make sure your partner respects them). There is a part of me that is still stuck in the past when it comes to this topic which is why I don’t write about it often but I want to thank you for not only reading this but for helping me create a space where I can feel comfortable expressing this side of my life.
Sending my love to you all,