People say this thing where, like, they want to “ship” something, and I don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.
We were getting off the phone, planning to continue our conversation later, and she prefaced the above with, “Oh, but I have a burning question for you… I’m going to need you to explain it to me.” After she said it, I lol’d because a) she’s always asking me what things mean that I thought were common knowledge to people our age but that are apparently only common knowledge to internet people, and b) this is not an internet issue so much as it’s a “people our age don’t say that” thing that I myself happen to know only because I UrbanDictionary’d it (that’s a term, ask anyone) after I noticed the kids using it everywhere and I, like my friend here, was all, “I don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.”
You know those times when songs and emotions and moments in time intersect so powerfully that when you hear the song later you can smell the moment and feel those emotions again in your chest? This one does that for me. Now it feels like scar tissue, like the morning after crying all night and driving through the rain. And that’s blissful in its achy way. And it’s useful, too, because life keeps happening, but experience helps, and anyway, nothing will ever feel quite like that again.
She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.
I didn’t realize that I don’t have many personal boundaries until it was altogether too late. If you had asked me a decade ago whether I had boundaries, I’d have said, “Oh, of course. Boundaries? Yes, I’ve got loads.” But when I was lying on the figurative ground with my throat under someone’s proverbial boot, it occurred to me that, no, in fact, I did not have any idea when or how to say enough.
I spent years trying to work out how I could have ended up there on the floor before I realized that the reason is simply that I’d never had to protect myself. I’m very lucky in that I had never before needed any boundaries. I didn’t grow up around people who were abusive in any way, least of all emotionally or verbally, so I never had any reason to build walls or even to determine where my walls might be should I need them.
But none of us can stay sheltered forever, and I happened to cross paths with someone who, come to think of it, probably wouldn’t have bothered with me if I hadn’t so readily met his needs by surrendering most of mine. That’s all water under the bridge now, lessons learned on both sides and no hard feelings between us, but I’ve been thinking lately about this boundaries issue. About how small or unintentional violations are nevertheless violations. About guarding my heart and protecting myself in a way that no one else can or ever will. About having self-respect enough to say, No, that doesn’t work for me. No. And about how to say goodbye when no doesn’t suffice.