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Boundaries & Betrayal

A history of betrayal can make boundary setting very difficult.  The type of betrayal relevant to boundary setting is the violation of the parent/child contract in which the parent is to support the development and thriving of a unique individual.  This type of betrayal occurs again and again when a parent doesn't see the unique child in front of them, but rather projects or pushes their own identity onto the child.  This is a violation of the boundary between self and other.  It is similar to someone coming over to you while you are sitting reading a book at a coffee shop and telling you who you are and what you should be expressing, believing, and doing.

When this kind of boundary violation occurs regularly throughout childhood, the child learns to abandon their own internal sense of what is true in favor responding to what others want.  The natural inclination to listen to your needs, creativity, and thoughts while considering others, is replaced with a mandate to focus only externally on what others and the situation seem to demand.  Without an ability to listen internally, you have no way of knowing what boundaries you need to set.

If this sounds familiar, and you are now on the path of healing; then you are learning to listen to and trust yourself.   In the old situation, it was dangerous to set a boundary.  At the very least it landed you in isolation from those you needed to stay connected to in order to survive.  Even now, disagreeing with someone or setting a boundary may trigger intense anxiety.

As a part of your healing path you will need to set boundaries and experience acceptance and support of that many times over.  Ideally, you would experiment with boundary setting with those who are secure enough in themselves that they can support you being you, however different from them you are.  Each time you have a positive experience of boundary setting, your body, heart, and mind will trust it a little more.  You will allow yourself to listen internally.  Slowly, as you listen, your myriad and complex experience will unfold for you.  You will know more and more what is true for you, and learn how to create a thriving life.

Take a moment now to simply notice your experience, with no agenda and no analysis.  Gently turn your attention to your experience.  Notice thoughts, feelings, sensations, impulses, energy, and images.  Then simply name them as they arise and watch them pass away.

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2 Responses

  1. Jan 05, 2017

    There is another form of betrayal of the parent/child contract having to do with what I'll call Self neglect. This type of betrayal occurs again and again when a parent doesn't see the unique child in front of them, but rather makes no offering of identity to the child, not even recognizing the child's own identity (Self). This is a violation of the boundary between self and other that similarly but for very different reasons leaves the child unclear about their own Self and pushes them to seek to find themselves in others; clearly if someone cannot see it in 'me' the thinking goes I must need to get it from somewhere 'other' than myself. In the end, we're left with a container with a different identity than is needed, in that what is needed is that child's unique identity, not someone else's by force or out of it being sought out. I'm wondering if you see the path to healing any different when the wound comes from another perspective. Thanks for your work and thoughtfulness!

  2. Feb 06, 2017

    Hmm, this is subtle stuff so hard to speak to without a very specific context, but in general, yes, I imagine similar healing strategies for any type of loss of identity, with the exception of multiple personality disorder which typically results from very severe trauma.

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