Borderlines are bad with boundaries… but we don’t mean to be. It’s just like our struggles with manipulation, our need for reassurance, or any other of our quirks: none of us mean to be monsters. The world just feels and looks very different to us than it does to most others. What makes you shed a few tears makes us curl up in a ball sobbing, what makes you chuckle makes us have uncontrollable laughter.
Our world is intense, our love is intense, our needs are never-ending, and our ability to read or follow boundaries is broken.
Sometimes we don’t pick up on the subtle hints or the unspoken norms that most people with healthy boundaries imply. We may not think to ask before reaching out for your hand or going in for a hug because our emotions sometimes engulf our ability to rationalize. While most people would understand that people can’t always answer a text message immediately, we may feel ignored or abandoned. You told us that you loved us yesterday, but today is a new day and we don’t know where we stand.
Sometimes we plow through the boundaries because we don’t have the interpersonal skills to effectively have our needs met with them in place. We know how to fight our way through to get what we want, but we don’t see the damage it does to you. Often, we say, “I am just a worthless body that deserves to die,” just to hear you say otherwise because we don’t know how to tell ourselves. We might call you at 2am just because we needed to be reminded that we have friends even though we know you are asleep.
Sometimes we build our own boundaries as a form of self-preservation. We may sense that you are angry and assume the worst, so we will push you away with harsh words or actions. Or we may be suicidal and know that if we let you into our space you’ll turn our hearts towards living, so we lock the door and hide the key. We try to avoid anything that feels like that past, so we may make assumptions without asking or giving you a chance to explain.
None of this happens out of hate or out of intentional selfishness; it happens because we love, because we feel, because we fear.
The best way to handle boundaries with us is to be clear, be firm, be calm and kind. We won’t want to disappoint you, but all we see is black & white, so we need you to be crystal clear on the expectation. We’ll try to push, to stretch, to bend, so we need you to stick to your guns and stay the course. We become easily overwhelmed, an emotional mess, so we need you to stay calm and be gentle with us. It might take us time, we might make mistakes, but we’re the most loyal and loving people you’ll ever have in your life, so I promise the work is worth the reward.