Boundaries: Can Childhood Trauma Cause Someone To Associate Having Boundaries With Being Disconnected From Others?
In the same way a fence protects a garden, boundaries protect a human being. Not only will they stop someone from taking on responsibilities that are not theirs but they will also stop them from being mistreated.
Unlike walls, they will allow one to let the right people in and experience deeper connections with those who are healthy and trustworthy. Also, one will feel safe enough to express who they are, their true self, and make it clear when they don’t want to do something.
If someone doesn’t have strong boundaries, then, their life is going to be far harder than it needs to be. It can be normal for them to take on what doesn’t belong to them and to feel exhausted.
Further, they can agree to do things that they would rather not do, having the tendency to experience resentment as a result. Who they are, in all likelihood, is unlikely to see the light of day either.
By not being able to protect themselves, it won’t matter if the people in their life actually want to take advantage of them, as this will take place anyway. If they themselves were to speak about what is going on for them, some of these people could be surprised.
Still, there might be others who wouldn’t change even if one was to make it clear that they are being walked over. The main issue, however, will be that one doesn’t stand up for themselves.
If one was to take a step back and to reflect on their life, they may see that they have been this way for as long as they can remember. Thanks to this, they might not believe that they have a choice, with them simply having to tolerate what is going on.
But even if they don’t have this outlook, unless their behaviour changes, they will continue to wear themselves down. “Negative” feelings will continue to build inside them and they will continue to live a life that is anything but fulfilling.
If they were to imagine standing their ground and saying no or making it clear that something is not their responsibility, for instance, they could end up experiencing fear and anxiety. As opposed to doing something that is right, it will be as though they are doing something that is wrong.
This could be seen as a clear sign that they need to continue to behave in the same way and, if they don't, something bad will happen to them. This is not going to serve them; it will just make their life worse.
Most likely, they will be desperate to embrace their true self and for this part of them to direct their life. Expressing who they are and making it clear when something isn’t right for them should be what feels comfortable and safe.
As this is not the case, it will show that something isn’t right. If they were to go deeper into how they feel, when they imagine listening to themselves and acting as a separate individual, they could find that they fear being left.
A Closer Look
To understand why someone would have this experience, it will be necessary to take a deeper look into what may have taken place during their early years and the impact that this had on them. At this stage of their life, they might not have been able to freely express themselves.
If they did, one or both of their parents may have ended up abandoning them. Therefore, if they expressed themselves, they would have ended up being left or sent to their room.
At a stage of their life when they were emotionally dependent, being left would have caused them to suffer greatly. They wouldn’t have been developed enough to handle this pain and would have ended up being overwhelmed by it.
The only option available to them would have been to disconnect from their feelings. Over time, this would have created an inner divide, causing them to live on the surface of themselves.
What their caregiver/s would have indirectly told them was that if they acted like a nonentity and behaved how they wanted them to behave, they wouldn’t be left. But, if they acted as an individual, they would be left and forced to face the pain of being abandoned.
When they experienced this pain, it probably would have felt like they were going to die, and as their intellect was underdeveloped, it may have felt as though it was an everlasting experience too. Naturally, then, pleasing their caregiver/s would have been seen as the only way for them to be connected to others and to avoid death.
The past is present
Many, many years will have passed since that stage of their life but the associations that were formed at this stage of their life will still be defining how they behave. Unconsciously, they will be projecting their early caregiver/s onto the people who they come into contact with as an adult.
Once again, they will need to do what these people want; if they don’t, they will believe that they will be left and their life will come to an end. The truth is that what took place is now over and they survived.
What one will be doing their best to avoid is not being left by others; it will be coming into contact with the pain that they experienced when they were left – what they fear has already happened. The pain that they had to repress at this stage of their life is held in their body and they will need to work through it.
If someone can relate to this and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.