Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fences: Good for neighbors, not relationships

Fences make good neighbors, we've all been told. Yes, it's true. We do have to have boundaries, not just with neighbors but in our relationships. We create boundaries to protect ourselves and preserve our safety and well-being. For example, I may tell a person or persons in my life that when they act in an intimidating manner to me, I will leave their presence (perhaps even need to leave their life). That's a boundary. The boundary is for me to observe and isn't meant to be manipulative or punitive. I'm just looking out for myself.

Barriers are different, however. When I put up barriers between myself and someone I love, I cut myself off from a true and honest relationship. Then I stop to ask myself: What's that barrier all about? Am I trying to protect myself from being hurt? Is that the best way to accomplish the task? Instead, do I need to set a boundary of some sort? And can I really avoid being hurt in a close relationship anyway? Isn't relationship all about love, trust, openness, forgiveness and grace?

I am better off acknowledging that, yes, sometimes I will get hurt by those I love. Sometimes I, too, will hurt them. However, hurt is survivable!

These days I try to approach life and relationships with as open a heart as possible, knowing I will get hurt from time to time—and also knowing that I will be enriched and will grow through all my encounters and relationships.

That said, it's important to be aware that when relationships are abusive, all bets are off and you do need to remove yourself. Then it is absolutely not OK to stay and be hurt.

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