Volume 1, Issue 15: 8 Myths About Boundaries

Hi friends! Well, fire season in California has started. There are over 360 wildfires currently burning in California. We have kept our windows closed all day. We have our air filters turned up. We also have multiple fans going, because we are in Oakland and do not have air conditioning. I have not been outside in a couple days at least. I want to share this article: What to Pack in Your Emergency Bag — With COVID-19 in Mind. Remember, face masks with valves are not useful regarding Covid-19 transmission. You may need to double-up to protect from both smoke/Covid transmission.

I also want to share that I’ve finally allowed myself to put stickers on my laptop (which I’ve had for years):

<image of a laptop with three stickers to the right of the touchpad. One sticker says “Do not fuck with me I will cry.” Another is like a nametag with rainbow borders that says, “hello, I’m doing my best.” The third is an opossum surrounded by flowers that says, “It’s called trash can, not trash can’t. You can do the thing!”>

Today I want to talk more about boundaries because it’s been coming up a lot in my discussions with friends and family, especially the past couple weeks. Why the past couple of weeks specifically? I’m not quite sure but if I were to guess, most of us have been sheltering-in-place for over 160 days at this point. There is a revolution going on. Climate change has California on fire quite early this year and Iowa has been having what amounts to hurricanes. It is very, very hot in many places and hot weather makes many of us very cranky. Personally, I have the “joy” of having summer-onset Seasonal Affective Disorder. Before I was diagnosed and got meds that work, I would spend summers in bed crying and snuggling frozen 2-liter bottles of water.

What I’m saying is this: we’re all going through A Lot™ right now. Some folks more than others. And some folks, who historically had loose or minimal boundaries are finally drawing boundaries out of what feels like desperation because we’re human and we can only handle so much at once.

<image of a small blue triangle flag and the words “Marked Safe From nothing Today”>

I wrote about boundaries during this shit-show of a year back in May when I wrote Volume 1, Issue 8: What do boundaries look like right now?

Today I wanted to zoom out a bit, because I recognize that you don’t necessarily read the books I read or follow the social media accounts that I follow, so your ideas about boundaries might be wildly different than my ideas about boundaries. I’m going to share with you some myths about boundaries and how they are just that: myths.

Myth #1: Drawing a boundary is rude/mean.

This is flat-out untrue. Boundaries are not rude or mean to other people. Taking care of yourself and your mental health and protecting your joy is never rude nor mean. In fact, drawing a boundary is showing great kindness. It’s saying, “I want to continue to have a relationship with you and this boundary is helping to facilitate that.”

Myth #2: Boundaries are for other people.

Boundaries are for everyone! You deserve a life where you feel safe. You deserve to feel validated and loved. You deserve to be heard. Boundaries can help with all these things. You deserve to have boundaries as much as anyone else does.

Myth #3: Drawing a boundary is disrespectful.

Drawing a boundary is showing respect for yourself and your own well-being. Drawing boundaries is respecting the relationship you have with the person or thing with which you are drawing boundaries. Your boundaries are about YOU, not about other people.

Myth #4: No one will like me if I draw a boundary OR people will get mad if I draw boundaries with them.

How people react to your drawing boundaries is not your responsibility. If someone gets mad at you or breaks up your friendship because you drew a boundary, then that is a pretty clear sign that you were probably right in drawing that boundary. I’ve seen it said that the only people who get mad that you draw boundaries are those who benefit from you having none. It is likely these same people are abusive of your relationship in other ways so it may be true that even more boundaries are in order. You are not responsible for other people’s feelings about your boundaries.

Myth #5: I’m not allowed to have boundaries with my spouse/parents/children/best friend/family.

Au contraire! It is imperative that you have boundaries with those closest to you. You 100% have the right to not be a “therapist” for your parents, your spouse, your family, or your friends. You totally have the right to say, “Please don’t talk about xyz around me” or “Please stop doing xyz thing when I am present.” Boundaries are what creates a safe distance for you to both love yourself and love those closest to you.

Myth #6: Drawing a boundary makes me a bad/selfish person.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish or bad. It’s literally the most important thing you do, because if you’re not taking care of yourself then you can’t do anything else. You can’t work. You can’t take care of your family. Drawing boundaries is one of the most loving things you can do for yourself and those who rely on you.

Myth #7: If I draw a boundary, then I’ll have to explain myself.

You never have you explain your boundaries. Drawing a boundary is not an invitation to a discussion and definitely not an opening for a debate. You do not owe anyone an explanation nor an argument to defend taking care of yourself.

Myth #8: I’ll never be good at drawing boundaries. I can never draw boundaries. It’s too hard/I’m too weak.

People think I’m good at drawing boundaries. I don’t think I am good, but I am better than I was in the past and I will continue to get better because it takes practice. I still get super anxious when I have to draw a boundary and I absolutely feel bad afterward, like I’ve done something wrong or I’ve “ruined things” and I beat myself up. But you know what? I’ve never regretted drawing a boundary. I’ve only regretted not drawing boundaries sooner than I have. It takes deliberate practice.

Below are some things I occasionally repeat to myself. I might write them on post-its and put them around the apartment. They’re a combination of my own thoughts and things I’ve seen online from various people said in various ways. They help bolster my confidence when I need to draw a boundary or even just get through the day as a Black queer woman. I’m sharing them because they may be helpful for you too.

  • Boundaries are how I show myself love and respect.

  • I am no longer available for things that make me feel like shit.

  • I am not obligated to show up for my own abuse.

  • I am not obligated to make space for other people’s ignorance.

  • I am no longer being the “go to” person for people I can’t go to myself.

I’m going to leave you with a photo of me and my new mug (purchased here):

<photo of me wearing teal lipstick and looking off to the left. I’m holding a white coffee mug that has pink letters saying, “Pay Black women for their labor instead of using them for diversity clout.”>

That’s it for this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, feel free to subscribe, forward it to a friend, and/or give me a tip!

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