Monday, February 23, 2009


"Setting healthy boundries means sometimes saying, "No."

According to the most recent newsletter from Three Sisters Spirit ( a fun site you should visit if you haven't already) the sun entered the sign of Pisces on Feb. 19th. I'm not exactly sure what that means as I'm not real into horoscopes but I found some of the stuff Dani wrote to be not only interesting but frightfully accurate.

For instance, "Pisces is the most emotional of the signs. Since there are no boundaries between them and the world around them, they often feel everything -- absolutely everything. Differentiating between what they feel and what someone else is feeling, especially someone they care about, is their greatest challenge."

For anyone who knows me, I'm guessing the part about being emotional is not exactly new news. I pretty much wear my feelings on my sleeve. Unless you are a moron, or perhaps, and engineer, you can read my moods like you would a barometer. Smiles and dancing means I'm feeling good a la James Brown. Hiding my tear stained face under the covers is a sure sign that I'm am more than a little blue. And slamming doors, using 4-letter expletives and swinging a baseball bat could be a pretty good sign that you might want to consider walking on the other side of the street.

That part about not being able to diffentiate between my feelings and someone else's is as close to a zodiacal (I made that word up!) home run as you can get. I think I've mentioned this before but it bears repeating. One time in a 12-step meeting a fellow stepper described himself as a "chameleon on plaid." I think this is the absolute best description of a person who has no boundaries. In fact, I was well past 30-something when I even heard the word boundaries associated with feelings and emotional well-being.

I've worked on boundary issues. I've read Co-dependent No More a dozen times. Yet, an innocent comment can be made that shows me just how far I still have to go. I think it might be easier to wrap myself in barbed-wire fencing to protect myself from others' thoughts and judgements than it is to keep healthy emotional boundaries.

For instance, last night after dinner, Sweetie brought up a subject he has been ruminating on for a few days. Something along the lines of "we are born with with everthing we need to know about how to get along in the world. If this is true, then why are we always learning new things - or struggling to know new things?"

Since I believe we are all born with the spark/breath of the Divine One in us, then it follows that we are born with everything we need to know. For me Love is the key. In our human-ness, however, we lose sight of the love because we are bombarded with too much stimuli and too many negative emotions. Being true to the love is a moment by moment task that most aren't able to maintain. I suggested that even Mother Theresa found herself angry or hateful at times. Probably not for long, but long enough to have moved away from love.

Then Sweetie, looks at my dad and asks what he thought about all this. Whether he feigned ignorance or didn't hear because he wasn't paying attention I don't know, but it took a few times to get a responce. Maybe we should have left well enough alone.

Here's what Dad had to say: "I think this discussion is futile so why should I participate. I'm an engineer. 2+2=4. There's no point in speculating about something that has no answer unless you just enjoy the exercise.

What I heard: That's a stupid question. I'm not interested. Talking to you is a waste of time.

My reaction wasn't totally over the top, but I felt my stomach quiver (as if someone were knitting in there - see I thought I was going to cry or throw something.

What I said: I consider having conversation - even lofty, non-answerable conversation - a way to stay connected to you. I want a connection between us.

He said: "I feel connected when we sit across the room from each other in silence."

I thought: "Huh?????????" Clearly there is a lack of communication here that doesn't have anything to do with Dad's hearing aid.

I want my dad to change who he is to accommodate my feelings. I want him to be nice, communicative and friendly towards me because it makes me feel like I'm worthy. On the flip side, I don't always want to accommodate him. Is giving him the space he needs to be as negative about life as he wants to be any skin of my back?

The missing boundary, as I see it, is the fact that whatever my dad says/thinks seems to affect MY truth, who I am, what I feel. And the opposite of that is also true. Very little of what I say or think seems to have any bearing on my dad. In the end I get my feelings hurt because I seem to have no boundary - no voice. I have a voice, but I give it away. He's always right - I'm always wrong.

Note to self: Merry ME, this is pretty screwed up thinking even for a fish!

Back to last night's put down. In order not to explode, I changed the subject, and, as is par for the course, took a shower. I moped. I chewed on some anger. I slept fitfully and had a dream about pushing my father UP stairs in a wheelchair, with water swirling around us on both sides of the stairway - very hard going, to say the least. This morning as I tossed it all over again, and watched some horses who were close enough to a fence to touch, my mood lightened. I think I took myself back to that place of love which started the whole thing.

Mtr. Theresa is reputed to have said, "In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love." Saving the money I might spend on therapy, I asked myself what would I do for a stranger with whom I have no vested interest? How would I care for him in his waning years?

Hmmm. I'd sit with him. I'd empty his bedside commode. I wash the bedclothes. I'd listen. I'd try to be present. There would be natural boundaries neither I nor the stranger would cross. There would be a two-way street of respect. The love that is born in each of us, that may be lost in his linear world or my emotional ocean, is not gone. If given a chance it can light the darkness of our differences.

Why is it so hard to do the same for the man who raised me? Why am I always on my guard and so quick to react? Big questions. Maybe that's what Dani meant when she wrote in her newsletter, "It is time to withdraw and limit some of your social activities so that you can pay attention to the larger issues that direct your life. "

Funny, limiting my social activities is just what my father has proposed.

Mulling it all over and thinking I could use some feedback,
Merry ME


terri st. cloud said...

several thoughts pop in my head, ms. merry me! do you know much about the myers briggs personality stuff??? a friend of mine is big into it and will be the first to point out to me the differences in personalities when i get my feelings hurt with someone. it's cool stuff to really put together that someone like your dad really DOES see the world totally differently. i don't know....when i get that i feel freedom. i usually forget it tho!

and then....the other thought is just about parents. they carry a lot of weight. so i think we really need to be gentle with ourselves when we goof up and let them have too much power. i'm a pro at this one!!! (the goofing up, not the being gentle with myself)'s deep down to the bones where they touch us.

and what we need then is for ourselves to really give ourselves some love...ya know???

i don't know.......
just throwin' something out there.

Sorrow said...

to much history with my parents.
maybe not "to much", but like deep grooves in the path, behaviors are well worn into the routines. It's a hard balancing act to keep from falling into those ruts.
A lot of who I have become is because of who they were, but I also know in my heart that I can never be what they wanted or expected me to be.
As I do not expect my children to live their lives for me, The same is true for my folks.
perhaps if you use that deep emotional empathy with your Dad, you might find that questions with out hard answers frighten him, that over flowing cups of love make him feel unworthy. I learned a great deal from my engineer father about perspective, and balance. Not all of it do I use, but it was a meaningful ,painful, and revealing lessons for me.
But then again
what works for me, may not for you..
Light and laughter