Monday, September 10, 2012

9/11/12—Assessing Our Boundaries

Today's Draw: Two of Swords from the Victorian Romantic Tarot. Do you know someone who puts up so many boundaries you just can't connect with them on a deeper level? Is it possible you have a boundary or two that really doesn't serve you? Or, conversely, is it possible your boundaries aren't strong enough?

It's day two of One Card Challenge week and I'm going to go with my favorite meaning of this particular Two of Swords, holding back the world. That's the meaning that comes with the guidebook to this deck, yet it's still not the traditional meaning of the card. To me "holding back the world" connotes two things, both having to do with boundaries. One is a sort of "stop the world, I want to get off" kind of thing where you just can't take any more stimuli and you have to shut doors for a short time. The other is a permanent wall you erect to draw boundaries of protection. 

The good side of boundaries is that they show lines that others can't cross. These are the lines that keep users, abusers, haters, energy vampires and other na'er-do-wells at bay. Being lax on your boundaries with people that don't match your vibe just invites them in. Every time you say "don't do xyz" and then proceed to allow the other party to do xyz without consequence, you not only lose respect and your integrity, buy you also push your boundaries out further and further, enabling more and more "abuse". So when it comes to deal breakers in relationships, it's good to have strong boundaries and follow through on them.

The downside of boundaries is that you can have ones so firm that they push everyone away. I used to have a friend who never turned on her phone and was only available by email during work hours. If you had an issue and needed to talk, it would only happen after she retrieved her phone messages, and then when she felt like returning the call. Essentially you had to make an appointment at least 24 hours in advance to access her friendship. This was not the person to call if you were ever in jail, bleeding or in need of shoulder to cry on. She was only available for good times, and on her terms. 

So people can draw boundaries so tight that their interactions with others can't make it past the superficial. But not all unhealthy boundaries are so obvious. We often disguise them. For example, there's the person who gets sexually intimate early in a relationship because it keeps the risk of emotional intimacy at bay. Or the person who over-shares so you'd never suspect their REAL issue. What looks like loose boundaries might actually be there to hold you back from discovering the real secrets. 

Usually the last thing we consider when we have unsatisfactory relationships is that we might actually be part of the problem. The last thing we ask is how our own boundaries might be contributing to the repeating cycles in our lives. Sometimes we catch a glimpse of those boundaries and decide they're ok. After all, we're all allowed to draw lines in the sand. But when we're not happy with the quality of our relationships, we owe it to ourselves to ask "where might my boundaries—or laxity with my boundaries—be to blame?"

There are many ways that we try to "hold back the world". The Two of Swords acknowledges that there are circumstances under which we need to temporarily erect physical, spiritual, social or psychological defenses. But when those defenses become part of our day to day routine, it's time to assess whether they're doing more harm than good.  

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