A significant part of the journey into adulthood involves increasingly individuating ourselves from our original sense of merger with our parents - most notably our mother, whose body is our home for the 9 months up to birth.
This increasing awareness and assertion of our selves as a separate being, with our own preferences, desires and values, is an essential part of healthy maturation.
Unfortunately, for many of us, this is not always supported or understood.
In my own case, my parents continued to project onto, assume about and attempt to control me well past an appropriate age (right up until their deaths in fact), meaning that when I should have been learning about boundaries and growing into my sovereignty as a teenager, I was instead feeling constantly imposed upon, invisible and misunderstood. Violated even.
It was as if they experienced me simply as an extension of themselves, rather than being able to see and respect me as an individual. Energetic, mental and emotional engulfment.
Coupled with that, my sharp enquiring mind and innate vivacity were forcefully, even violently, put down and shut up by my father. Having a different opinion or questioning my parents' beliefs or decisions was regarded as insolent. Expressing myself could mean getting a thwack across the face.
So I buttoned up and quietened down, feeling alone, unloved and unseen.
It wasn't until mid-way through my mid-life shift onto the awakening path that I even heard the word "boundaries".
And it was during a very simple, yet incredibly powerful, exercise about my "yes", "no" and "maybe" on one of the first tantra courses I ever took, that I had a lightbulb moment around this whole area.
OMG !! I could say 'NO!"
Without having to justify myself.
Or caretake the other.
I saw very clearly, how other people's reactions to my NO was THEIR ISSUE and entirely corresponding to their relational wounding patterns.
And how vulnerable I'd been to guilt-tripping: imaging I was responsible for someone's hurt feelings. (Newsflash - your feelings are yours. Theirs are theirs. Adulthood = owning yours and not manipulating others into feeling responsible for yours).
I also experienced how my YES was context- and person-driven.
There was absolutely no way to determine a fixed rule for YES or NO in this or that situation.
My willingness to accept a person's gesture/words/touch changed according to what I sensed in the moment.
Which had nothing to do with their age, looks or attractiveness.
This was a potent learning, that:
My NO was enough. My NO and YES were mine. And actually this knowing was very easy for me to access through my body.
Despite this revelation, outside the workshop space I still found myself going along with touch or behaviours I didn't like or want.
And continuing to withhold my truth when the urge to challenge, express or question rose up.
Which made for messiness and upset in intimate relationships.
More self-development, training and education followed. Discovering more new helpful themes to explore, like co-dependence, attachment style and developmental trauma.
And scores of fabulous experts and systems for conscious communication and relating.
If only we were taught this stuff in schools !!
The Four Agreements Radical Honesty The Wheel of Consent Conscious Loving Imago Therapy Family Constellations Tantra & Embodied Awareness Transformation Through Intimacy
and many many more.
Through all these years, learnings and teachings, I've come to see more and more clearly how being in the body and aware are vital to conscious relating.
AND, there is one more missing piece.
The final part of this is being able to VOICE YOUR NO. Or whatever the hell else you need to say.
Even when it feels downright uncomfortable and all your conditioning is to stay quiet, think of others or be polite.
I see this with pretty much every single one of my clients.
They'll tell me about their sexual or relational issues. But when I ask "and have you expressed any of this to him/her? Have you told them what you like. Asked for what you need. Made it clear this is a hard boundary?"
The answer is almost always a cringe-faced "no".
I get it.
It's so darn easy to let things slide It's so very common to not want to rock the boat or be afraid of rejection or abandonment It's a sadly well-worn theme to value the other over the self.
To tolerate. Endure. Allow. Even suffer.
Because that is what many of us are conditioned into.
As women. As trauma survivors. As co-dependents.
But then resentment builds up. Distance grows. Desire evaporates. And all that juicy love and intimacy we long for dries up.
This is not your fault (though I'd say you are responsible for cleaning up your act and co-creating your experiences now that you're an adult).
And it can be changed.
What I know for certain and continue to evolve towards in my own journey of self-mastery, is that having both an intellectual understanding of these core concepts of body-awareness-based communication, boundaries and relating, as well as a framework for living practice facilitates the possibility for self-empowerment and well-being, as well as juicy, sacred, intimacy.
Coming fresh off the Like A Pro 5-day intensive on Betty Martin's Wheel of Consent, I'm all fired up with the desire to share some of what I've learned, because I believe it to be SO INCREDIBLY VALUABLE to anyone looking for healthier self-esteem and happier relationships.
JUST SAY NO will be an online offering coming up in early June 2023.
Message me if you'd like me to send you the info