Boundaries And Relationships

Understanding how boundaries and relationships are affected by childhood trauma.

One of the many possible long term effects of childhood trauma is how we cope and behave within relationships and boundaries. Generally speaking, we’re a bit shit at both. I’ve had difficult relationships with loved ones on and off for most of my adult life. Mainly because I’ve kept them all at arm’s length. On the flip side to that I’ve allowed others to cross the line repeatedly by not setting healthy boundaries and sticking to them. In my case this behaviour is most apparent with my siblings and with my partners. I guess it was to be expected with my siblings, as they have boundary issues too as a result of our traumatic experiences as children. Between us, we’ve been like the poster child for how not to treat each other at times, something that we witnessed in our aunts and uncles too who also suffered childhood trauma of their own. I see a fucking pattern here.

My mother had 6 siblings. All separated into foster care at a young age. Over the years my siblings and I have watched them treat each other horrifically. Intentionally hurting each other is like a national sport in that side of the family. They use hurtful comments to connect and communicate, and go out of their way to fuck up each other’s lives a bit more. Astounding when you think they’ve already had a shit time. The closer the siblings, the worse they seem to hurt each other. My mother and her closest sister seemed to go out of their way to hurt each other, and yet still turned to each other in hard times. I can never keep up with who is talking to who, who’s fallen out with whom or what bloody drama is going on now. Needless to say I don’t keep in touch with any of my mother’s siblings really, mainly because they’re all mentally unstable in my opinion. The direct result of childhood trauma.

My point, is that they all have boundary issues too. They cross the line repeatedly.

My siblings and I have done the same although never to the same extent and certainly not with such venom.

As children connected by trauma, we’ve overstepped the mark with each other in many ways. I once had a casual boyfriend that I met whilst working abroad, broke up with, but arranged to fly home with and let stay with my sister. Let stay with my sister. Not my home. Not a family home. HER home. With HER child. I wasn’t even staying with her. He didn’t speak English either. She agreed to let him live with her because she had no boundaries either. Don’t get me wrong, he was a good guy, but he was also a recreational drug user. I took him on his word that he’d ‘behave’ whilst staying with her. Luckily, it worked out, but could so easily not have.

The lack of healthy boundaries meant that I overstayed my welcome at my step father’s home. My brother overstayed his welcome at my sister’s home, and my sister overstayed her welcome at my home. So you see we’ve all done the same shit. Now I look back and understand the root of the behaviour which gave me a chance to course correct. I have healthy boundaries in my life and my relationships have improved overall. Everybody wins, except maybe for the toxic people I’ve cut out over the years, they don’t seem like winners to me.

I’ve had difficult relationships with partners too (here’s where I make the joke that I married the most difficult one then remember that he’ll probably read this later 😂).

And now I’m working daily on my relationships.

It’s a struggle at times.

But it’s never a struggle I shy away from. My family are worth every difficult day. And for that, I’m always grateful. Grateful that I have something in my life that makes me want to work on myself. The drive for self improvement comes after the healing from trauma.

An empty cup can’t quench anyone’s thirst.