Our boundaries are meant to protect us. How do you know when your boundaries are becoming self-defense mechanisms that may need to come down? How do you discern if this boundary should come down so you can grow and free yourself up?
Boundaries are meant to protect us. Sometimes, they can actually limit us from positive experiences and great opportunities.
For some time, avoiding certain things like dating, certain music genres, drinking (etc), worked for me! It helped me and protected me. An example of a boundary I carried then let go is concerning drinking.
At one point, I hated alcohol. Growing up with a bar in my basement, I witnessed how alcohol can ruin people's lives. I learned that it was a liquid courage and a crutch for those struggling in their sober mind. I witnessed fights, cheats, addiction and depression that had become overbearing for these alcohol induced guests and family members. I recognize physical and mental health concerns that stole much joy and peace within relationships.
I raised thick and tall brick boundaries protecting myself from the fantasy that alcohol induced thoughts and activities could ever be fun. I became an extremist. Extremely opposed to alcohol, I led the Alcohol and Drug Free Committee in school and trumpeted loudly and forcefully against it. I forgot that alcohol could be something enjoyed, could taste good, could be okay to socially drink as most things are okay in moderation. This boundary of mine stayed up a little too long. I know because this boundary began to feed fear and my self-righteous ability to judge others with a negative twist.
I put my nose in the air and decided those who drank were foolish, bored, sad people. They were weak and filled with excuses. This boundary was beginning to impact my desire to love unconditionally; it was becoming too heavy.
That was how I knew the boundary needed to go down. I couldn't have figured this out on my own however. It took my Aunt and Uncle to recognize my extreme perspective and helped me to see alcohol in a healthy light. They invited me to drink with them, in their home, trying drinks and noticing that they can taste good, I could enjoy it and socially drinking with them could be fun. I said no to their invitation a few times before drinking some white wine.
My judgement and fear was slowly dissipating as my boundaries were shifting. I did not have to be extremely against alcohol, I needed to focus on a healthy relationship with it for myself as to quit judging others and fearing it for myself.
As I healed from the situations that had me bring up such a front, I might have become so comfortable with those walls and since I was connecting now with people I can trust and socially drinking healthily. My boundaries could shift. I knew this because the only reason they remained was because it was comfortable but that comfort cloaked fear of say, people and drinking. One thing I'll hope to avoid, is maintaining the exact same boundaries forever. I hope they would always support me. Typically as we grow, our boundaries can shift so that we can expand our minds, curiosity and allow room for more growth.
This Halloween was the first time I allowed myself to drink with people I trust and outside of a home I was familiar with. Now, I was with people I trust and was stretching my muscles to enjoy alcohol for myself with even less boundaries. This resulted in some vomitting as I am a tiny human with low tolerance for alcohol...alas, I had fun that night! I did not judge others but concerned myself with myself first and foremost. Knowing my limits, understanding them and being considerate of them.
While I drink in moderation and with people I trust in spaces I feel comfortable in, I still have boundaries. Now, they look like avoiding alcohol when I am sad or angry. It will not be my scape goat nor crutch. Slimming this boundary down, I've been able to love people well and judge less. This has altered my heart posture in the most beautiful of ways to where I feel free again. Free to change my mind, free to grow, free to be challenged, free to love without unwarranted punishment.
What boundaries have you let go of and why? How did this affect self-love and loving others?