“She Has Boundary Issues”

These words were said about me a couple of years ago by a woman who I had once considered a close friend. As much as I think she said these words to assign all of the blame of our fractured friendship on me and somehow–in her mind–conclude that her shortcomings were relatively benign, she was right.

I have boundary issues.

When I heard that she had said those four words, I took them as she intended: an insult implying loose morals and a lack of tact. Additionally, while those words are an indictment of character, they are also something of a broad-brush generalization.

Now that some time has passed, I regard her intended criticism as nothing more than a descriptor, which when considered from a different angle, is a positive attribute.

I have boundary issues.

That fact has led me to do things which many would find too risky or too scary. That fact has driven a willingness to be authentic and forthright. That fact has resulted in my being vulnerable when others would build up defenses.

And I’ve been burned. Lots of times. I’ve “put myself out there” and “let my guard down.” I have trusted people and let them in, only to be disappointed, even betrayed. But in many instances, I made the first move. It was my opening salvo. It was my boundary-less attitude that got the conversation started.

I could opt to close myself off and be more self-protecting. I could permit her words of judgment to settle long enough to engender a change. I could try to be someone else.

But I have boundary issues, and I am proud of them.

Image result for boundary

Without them, my life would be stilted. My experiences would be muted. My heart would be shrouded. Without them, I never would have sat down to write.

Because if and when the day comes that my manuscripts become publicly available, those who know me will wonder whether I have experienced all the things I have written about. Many will conclude that I have. I hope that those who read my words will–thanks to my lack of boundary issues (aka willingness to be raw and vulnerable)–think, “Wow, is that what it feels like to be that real?”

Because even though the characterization is supposed to come off as a curse, having boundary issues is, so far as I can tell, a gift.


6 thoughts on ““She Has Boundary Issues”

  1. What is a boundary? Something (such as a river, a fence, or an imaginary line) that shows where an area ends and another area begins, a point or limit that indicates where two things become different. Another thought on boundaries. If boundaries were never crossed, knowledge would be forever lost. The grass is greener on the other side of the fence, until you breach the boundary and and find that your grass is just fine. Oh, that’s black and white, but at the boundary is really a grey area that you need to navigate to accept that nothing is either black or white. You may like it, you may not, but you will never know until you push that envelope, question your limits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, so agree. But there are those who want you to stay on your own grass and leave them to theirs. They’re the fence builders and stone stackers.

      The label was to say something like: “She doesn’t have a clear sense for what needs to go unspoken/unrecognized/undisturbed.”

      It makes me want to reply (to the accusation) with a labeling of my own: “You have intimacy issues.”

      Not you, Marc. The royal “you.”


  2. You know, to be honest if I heard someone say “She had boundary issues” I’d have asked “What do you mean?” but maybe I don’t understand because I’m not a native English speaker, and everyone else does understand exactly what it means. I’m thinking about something else now, though – Why and how did you come to know of this? Did someone report it to you thinking that you need to know what the other person said about you? Why on earth would anyone think that necessary?

    As far as not having a clear sense of what needs to go unspoken goes, that’s baloney. Women have been told for centuries and decades that their voices don’t matter, they should be nice and friendly instead of outspoken. Yeah, you are outspoken, and yeah, from what I know of you (can’t really say I know you) you are not a typical American suburban wife. So what? Keep on crossing those boundaries. If you’re not intentionally insulting anyone, why can’t you say it what’s on your mind?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes people get to hear the rumors circulating about them. After this former friend of mine and I parted ways, she told others–perhaps to explain why we’d parted ways–that I had “boundary issues.” Among native English speakers, this usually means that the one with the issues (in this case, me) was overly familiar with others or overly disclosing of herself.

      In the same way that there are “degrees” in a sense of humor, I think there are degrees in sense of openness. By way of personalities, we were different in our levels of both self-disclosure and self-critique. I tend to share a lot of my thoughts and feelings (both good and bad). She may have seen my sharing as “over sharing.”

      Or as I asserted in the original post, she may have just wanted a quick and dirty way to absolve herself of any responsibility in the ending of our friendship.

      It’s one thing to feel the grief in the death of a friendship; it’s another to have that “dead” friend come back with rumor-based revisionist history.


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