The one percent cuts like a knife.*

I like serendipity, and although there’ve been challenges in my life (my whinier self thinks to an unfair degree), I’ve been lucky in the serendipity stakes. Evidence includes the essay below showing up when I needed to read it.

Of late, the challenges in my life seem to centre around relationships. I struggle with boundaries. I struggle with what I want my life to look like vis a vis other people: I have strong hermit tendencies and it can make relationships challenging: people start to think you’re uninterested in them and their lives. I love staying informed (I’m perhaps a bit inquisitive), but I need to hold my distance at times.*

People can hurt, and I can get overwhelmed with input.

But back to serendipity, boundaries, and good essays on the latter.

I know two things about having an independent sense of self-worth: it’s vital, and it depends on boundaries.

I lied, I know three things: I struggle. It’s hard for me to believe I have value and am not held on sufferance by everyone all the time. I work on this belief, a lot, but I can’t maintain a sense of value. Listing good things and achievements doesn’t help (it actually makes me feel stupid). I don’t know why I feel this way. I suspect it’s a combination of hardwiring and things that happened before I was ten. ACES have long legs.

I don’t talk much about the back then. It’s not denial. I just prefer not to go there. I do wonder sometimes if there are consequences that can’t be undone?

I dislike the desperate hustle for approval I sometimes engage in. “Like me,” is the plea that floats up from my little girl self. I don’t know how to make her understand that we’re grown, safe, and know about throat punching. I don’t know how to make her understand that we want to be fierce, not frightened.

Even worse is knowing I’m not alone. There’s a world full of people struggling in the same way. It doesn’t warm my heart to know my misery has company.

Also found in “How to Separate Yourself” is advice on not taking things personally. You need to stay one step removed to enforce your boundaries and that’s something I need to work on. I tend to cave if I fear I’ve caused pain or offense. It feels more appropriate for me to suffer than hold a reasonable line. It’s hard for me to commit to the idea that I’m not responsible for other people’s feelings. It’s the curse of the soft heart and something I’m working on changing.

Self-differentiation and boundaries are a beautiful things.

Do you struggle?


“How to separate your self-worth from the opinions of other.”

“Rising above the opinions of others means, among other things, that you don’t internalize things from people who don’t have your best interests at heart. Also:

unkind words don’t mean unkind intentions (this is a hard one for me. I assume people are evil if they hurt me, at least in the first gasp);

assume the best of others (as mentioned, I’m not good at this); and

is this [comment/interaction] actually a criticism, or do my insecurities just make it seem that way?

*I quite this title, unusual for me, something regular readers will know. It will therefore not surprise people to learn that this one is borrowed. It was coined by the writer of the linked essay (Leanne from “Cresting the Hill.”)

*“Inquisitive” sounds nicer than “nosy.”

Header image credit: UNC Wilmington

By Em

I like writing. Words help me unpack my thoughts so things can start to make sense. Once I have both myself and the universe figured out, I plan to take up macrame. "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing, and learn as you go." E. L. Doctorow

13 comments

  1. Did it ever occur to you that the self can’t change the self? We spent a lifetime perfecting our self defense mechanisms and strategies for avoiding getting hurt and the last thing we want to do is let them go. 😱

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Self care is a process, I think, just like life. And maybe the fact that we keep trying, keep looking, keep asking questions is good enough. That’s how progress and change happen, by asking questions. I think that’s brave, just like you ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great, thought provoking post. Now I’m having lots of thoughts so I’m going to brain dump them here. Sorry in advance.

    I think many people struggle but it’s not common knowledge because people don’t like to talk about it. For fear of being seen as weak or ‘less’ if that makes sense.

    I don’t know that you need to make that little girl ‘understand that we’re grown, safe, and know about throat punching. I don’t know how to make her understand that we want to be fierce, not frightened.’

    I’m currently of the opinion that the little people that we were did their best to survive and because of them we are here. I feel like we need to acknowledge them and say thanks we’ve got this now. Just a random thought.

    I like ACEs have long legs. Sometimes I think it’s ACEs have long tentacles – they manage to sneak their way into the tiniest of spaces.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the great comment. I like the idea that maybe I could be nicer to the me that was. I especially like the idea of tentacle ACES – they do get their way into places you don’t expect.

      Like

  4. “throat punching” YES!

    I don’t really struggle with what people think about me. From an early age, I was primed not to care, which I found helpful growing up. As an adult, I still find it useful, but it also has some negative sides, namely, it makes people think I’m calloused. I don’t show vulnerability and they feel like they can’t connect with me.

    Liked by 1 person

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