Tag Archive | boundaries


Hook me,
Just like a big fish,
With unkept promises
That are constantly renewed;
Veiled disapproval
That calls me to prove myself
Yet again.


Pull me,
On your line of ploys,
Calling me to respond
With the answers you desire;
Using history
To evoke that emotion
Yet again.


Draw me
With subtle half-truths;
Sly manipulations
That baffle and confuse me;
Breeches in boundaries
That call me to question self
Yet again.


Bait hooks
With fresh disguises
Of concern and offers
Meant to make me feel better
About staying with you,
Though all wisdom says to leave
Yet again.


Let me
Pull all the hooks out,
Though the pain is awful;
Causing me to bleed and cry;
Awakening my hope
That I will learn and move on
Yet again.



Standing tall;
Taking charge;
Remaining strong,
Even when there is conflict.
Networking well;
Growing each day;
Thinking and feeling clearly;
Healthy in body, heart and mind.


Once in a while, I have to put on my clinical hat while I address a topic.  This is one of those times.


I recently encountered a situation in which someone was putting all sorts of conditions on our relationship:  Very troubling.

We all know that relationships are messy in the first place.  There are so many facets to them, some inward; others interpersonal.  Add conditions and the mess grows biggerr.


Conditions are bricks in a barricade.  They indirectly say, “No.”


Because they go around the circle to get to the point, they create triangulation in a relationship.  What?  Triangu….???
That’s when someone or something becomes the third party in a relationship that is supposed to be between two people.  The big problem with this is, nothing can ever be resolved.


One thing that I especially dislike is that conditions push the one on whom they are laid away and put him or her below the one setting up these requirements.  Instead of being equals, one person has usurped power over the other.


So, what do you do if you find yourself in this position?


In the relationship I mentioned, I was able to take away the need for the conditions.  That might not work in every case, so here are a couple of other thoughts:


*Remember that conditions are an indirect way of saying, “No.”   If you understand that, you can interpret them better.  If this is someone who will have a conversation with you, asking them about this might help.


*Some relationships simply need to end.  If you can recognize that the “no” means, “I don’t want to make a commitment,” for example, it is much easier to say good-bye.


*A bit of assessment and negociation might be needed.  Some conditions have come up because of something that caused pain.  Acknowledging that, meeting conditions that fit the circumstances and asking to be released from others can build strength and closeness.  In other words, own your part.

*A saying we used to have when I was in social work school is, “Look beyond the content to the process.”  If someone is putting conditions on you, interpret them.  “I have to like your attitude” could mean, “I’m afraid.”  If you are able to ask about this, you can get the extra “something” out of the middle of your friendship and solve the matter.

*Sometimes, simply refusing to “play” will help.  Conditions don’t work if you don’t cooperate and take the inferior position.


I could probably come up with more ideas, but you get the point, yeah?


“No” wears many disguises;
Many of them so complete
We don’t recognize him at all.


One is procrastination:
Oh, some day that will happen;
But such a time never arrives.


Another is conditions:
If requirements are met…
Hoops impossible to jump through.


Then there’s that famous, “I can’t…”
“I would but,” really means, “No.”
Barriers that are “No one’s fault.”


It’s good to recognize “No”
For all that he really is:
Distance, unwillingness or fear.


Honesty peels off his clothes,
Leaving him for all to see;
Keeping us from needless heartache.


Learning to speak;
Finding a voice;
Discovering that each
Gets to make the choice
To share or not;
To listen and hear;
To decide who and what
Will be allowed to come near.


Checking inside;
Finding what’s real;
Emotions untied;
More able to feel
Heartbeat and breath;
Wisdom and desire;
Life’s warmth instead of death;
Embracing of passion’s fire.


Awake at last,
From numbing sleep;
Set free from the past
That would try to keep
us bound in chains
Of self doubt and lies;
As healing soothes old pains,
Be free, speak out and arise!


“A door stuck shut is as bad as a door stuck open.”
What we need is one with good hinges and  a proper latch; then we need a wise keeper of that door, who chooses those that will be let in.
Next, there needs to be a mistress or master of the house, who determines where a guest may go.
Is this someone who may sit in the living room, but will need to ask permission to use the bathroom?
Or perhaps this person may be in the dining room and kitchen as well, and may use the facilities without asking.
Only the closest of friends and family might go into a bedroom, but would never look in drawers or closets.
Then there is the very small circle of spouse, intimate friend and immediate family who are allowed anywhere.

So it is with boundaries:  Healthy ones mean that we allow people closer as trust indicates the propriety of such actions.
Relationships happen in degrees.  They also develop over time.
Some people will always be the “guest who sits in the living room and must ask permission to use the bathroom.”
Others will become closer and be trusted with deeper parts of our souls.

Is your doorkeeper on duty?  Is the master or mistress at home?  Appreciate them; treat them well; let them do their jobs.


During my twenty-six-year tenure as a clinical social worker, I was probably a “Rent-a-Friend” more often than I was a clinician.

We are built for relationship.  We long to know and be known; yet we’re afraid:  There is always a risk that someone will come close and we’ll let that person in, only to be rejected and betrayed by him or her.

In addition to our fears, there is the need to know; when we don’t, we assume, which carries a plethora of challenges:
*We usually “aim low”
*We are almost always mistaken
*Assumptions are often projective; therefore negative, since our own insecurities get in the way.
*The most serious is that assuming is a major barrier to closeness in relationships.

The antidote?
First is to learn how to rest with unknowing.  An honest question is better than the best guess.
Next, ask; then listen.  Just doing that much is a very powerful means of healing.  If you think about it, have you ever had someone give you this most precious gift?  Were you able to share your heart and have him or her reflect back to you that he or she really gets it?  I know some people who do this.  I feel so loved and honored by them.

I am in no way talking about indiscriminate disclosure.  We all know people who have demonstrated that they are not trustworthy.  Boundaries come first.  A point of wisdom is that we share at the level that a relationship supports.  For example, we don’t tell all to the cashier when we pay for our groceries because we only have a cordial connection with that person.  In contrast, we will share our innermost thoughts and feelings with a best friend or spouse.

Relationships come in degrees and progress over time.  You might see a bit of me at first; then as our friendship grows and we prove to be safe for each other, you will see into me at a deeper level.

These are the connections that feed our souls and bring life.

(I learned “into me you see” from authors and speakers at Bethel Church in Redding, CA.