Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vulnerable Boundaries

(one of Dr. Skinner's slides at The Togetherness Conference)

Random Sample of what's going on in my house right now:

Him: Come here I want to show you something.
Me: I can't.
Him: Yes, you can.
Me: Don't tell me what to do.
Him: Quit being mean.

Doors slam.  Bottom lips come out to play.
But seriously... that actually happened, and both of us were a little disturbed by it.  I mean, we're ADULTS, but we were sounding exactly like our small children.

My therapist applauded me for holding my ground.  I felt my choice was being taken away and I stood boldly and said, "Don't tell me what to do."  I spoke and held a boundary.
I wasn't yelling or defiant.  In fact, I was scared.

"What you can do instead," said my therapist, "is be honest about where you are.  Be vulnerable when you hold your boundaries."

I have been in such a confused and lonely place.  I have a MARRIAGE but I don't.  I have a relationship but it's dysfunctional.  I can't change it or fix it.  I can only detach and feel lonely and wait and watch.
But what if I can't ever re-attach?  Am I destined to stay in this cold, dank corner forever?  never to trust or depend on any man EVER AGAIN?

My ability to connect with people -and eventually this will *hopefully* include my husband -is to foster my ability to be vulnerable.
It's raising my hand in a Relief Society lesson on choosing spiritual needs over physical wants and saying, "I know this concept is important, but I struggle with it.  I need to remember to have compassion for myself because it's only natural to want to give into physical desires.  We have them for a reason."
It's reading poetry I've written in front of a crowd.
It's saying, "I'm sorry, I can't help with that.  I really wish I could."
It's apologizing to my kids and being honest about my mistakes with them.
It's saying prayers with them and letting them hear me talk to God about my failings.
And while I can't be safely vulnerable with my husband all of the time right now, I can be vulnerable in my boundaries.

Instead of saying, "Don't tell me what to do" which shows no insight into what's really going on with me, I can be honest and say, "Whoa, you just set off some old emotions.  I'm feeling controlled (or I'm feeling like you're taking my choice) so I need some space."

I don't foresee that going over well a'tall. 

It's time for me to be fully honest, even if it's uncomfortable.
It's time for me to tell my husband how I truly feel instead of change the subject when he comes onto me and I feel triggered.
I owe myself integrity.

I'm always telling my kids, "When you do something that scares you, it makes you stronger."

It's time for me to live that truth, to face situations and let go of the outcomes. 

The bottom line is that I'm not willing to sacrifice the art of being vulnerable.  Right now, I'm very much in a place where it would be easy to wall myself off, but I will fight to maintain my self-honesty and ability to be vulnerable with myself and others.

The fact is: I'm not going to stay in this cold and lonely place.  I will connect again.  Whether it's to my husband or not, I will connect again.
When that time comes, I want to be able to be fully honest and vulnerable with myself and others.\


  1. this is perfect for me right now. thank you.

  2. When you do something that scares you, it makes you... cry! It makes me cry! I miss you :(

    Oh yeah, good post. I needed this. Thanks :)

  3. Just wanted to say and I love hearing about your journey. Great insights.

  4. I am there with you. I want to be vulnerable and let people in but how terrifying this concept is for me. I'm sure I look like I have split personalities as I take my first steps in this process… one moment I'm being vulnerable and the next I have doubts and become shut off… unfortunately, sometimes this is in the same conversation with the same person and they haven't done anything, it's just all in my head! Crazy is a fun thing to be I suppose!