Boundaries: Enacting Them With Empowerment


It’s no secret that I have a tumultuous past. From time in jail to extreme sexual misuse of my body to behavioral problems, I have run the course of self-destruction, projection, being attached to petty dramas and other avenues of self harming, trauma based personality traits.

I am purposefully open about my past.  I want people to know they are not alone. I want people to know they do not have to live in shame.  I want people to know they don’t have to let anyone reverse them to the skin they have shed through healing. So, there is nothing which can be hurled toward me in regard to my past, nothing rooted in truth anyway, which I will not acknowledge. Part of my healing journey has included learning to stand in my place, not with shame or regret, but with empowerment.

I get to choose what to discuss or not discuss. I get to choose what to accept or not accept. I get to choose, period, and that’s that.

I also used to have a deep need to defend myself, explain my side and try to make everyone see and understand ME. I have associates who could tell you story after story of the times I lamented and recycled the same situations until I crazy-made my own mind. I was often in a negative-based mental space.

I felt owed. I felt people should adjust to me. I sometimes felt discarded, shunned and unaccepted, even by my own friends. Until I realized it wasn’t true. I was literally creating a negative storyline in my head that wasn’t fully rooted in truth and acceptance but instead, in my own self-based perception. There was some behavior from people which made me back away but concerning me, in retrospect, I churned those situations far too long and too much.

When we are in that state of mind or have friends who are in that state of mind, where we are churning instead of growing and learning, we can hold space and listen. I don’t mind listening. If you, the reader, don’t want to listen to others situations or can’t hold space, you also have the right to say, “I don’t have that to give to you right now.”

Sometimes it’s difficult to be in the space holding position. I have had friends tell me how frustrating it was to watch me churn petty problems instead of figure out solutions. So, I get it now. I’m an experiencer of this negative thought patterning.

I have a major boundary when it comes to being in the listening position, and that boundary is enacted when someone’s struggles are thrown at me like darts, and I am suddenly in the scapegoat position.

Writing on this subject was inspired by waking up today to a very long message from a friend explaining a situation that we had already discussed just a day ago and seemed, to me at least, had been lain to rest. Okay. I accepted that some things might still be unresolved for them. So, when I began to read, I was open to listening until I arrived at this phrase:

you have written a book and working on another about your torment and pain that some may dismiss as drama.”

Ah. Now I see. Because this person is attached to adult drama, they had the audacity to compare it with my childhood trauma. What I was reading was a projector’s mindset. I was being crazy-made.

I even further realized I was a target when I continued reading and arrived at… “All the times you schemed, planned, and even asked me to be involved. Or carried on without me, I never said a thing. Yes I was angry.”

At that moment I became slightly alarmed.  My mistrust meter went up to level red.  I began to search my brain. When did I scheme with this person? When did I ask them to be involved with a scheme that made them angry? My brain could find nothing. I attempted to call them to openly discuss it so I could understand more clearly what they were even talking about. They didn’t answer.

Then it hit me. If they were actually really referring to every person who has schemed and planned with them, but they couldn’t aim their anger at the actual person, it was being aimed at me. I was dealing with a deep projection.

This is where I advise not to take everything someone says to us literally as if it refers directly TO us.  If we cannot connect it to a specific event, most likely it really is not rooted in us.  However, we should not allow anyone to speak to us in ways which disrespect our growth and the ethics we work to maintain.

By that time, I was angry. How dare they speak to me this way. How dare they imply such things to me, that I’d ever schemed or been a petty person with them. How dare fabrications be thrown my way. How dare they not have the respect to answer the phone and actually talk to me about it.

By that time, I knew that I was done. I knew that I needed to separate from the recurring theme of this person’s personal life and being in the projected position. I realized this person was just being plain malicious and mean to me. At least that is how it felt.

I realized how hurt I was in that moment. So many times, I’ve been the only one listening to them; the only one understanding; the only one protecting. I sat on my bed, looking at my phone and realizing this was the crossroad we are at, and I had to choose to turn. That doesn’t always feel good.

I sit back now, writing out this emotion and decision to cut ties. I am hurt, confused and irritated to even have pettiness infused into my day unexpectedly. I also understand this really doesn’t have anything to do with me personally. I am being scapegoated. When I am feeling like that, I take my leave for my own spiritual safety. I always wish well, even as I wield a verbal sword when I slam the gate shut, in my heart, I always hope for healing and eventual accountability.

These are the times it hurts to cut ties with people we have been there for and truly care about in regard to their well being. This decision, for me, is rooted in the fact that this person has no respect for my own mental health, in that they found it alright to disrespect me. This person has now chosen to impede on my peace and mental health. That is a strong boundary for me now.

I write about this to both expel the negative energy that it created in me and to really drive home that we get to choose. I used to HATE when people said that to me. It pissed me off because I wasn’t ready to change my self-defeating behaviors. I had excuse after excuse. Everyone else was the problem. While yes, others had issues too, I needed to learn how to just focus on my own and not allow them to project theirs onto me. I had to also learn how to not project mine onto others.

I could list out the various physical and mental impairments I generally positively live with on a daily basis. I could demand everyone comply to my needs in regard to them. What I’d rather do is tell you that instead, I made the choice to create an environment which is conducive to my own well-being. I created it by building boundaries and standing mostly quiet in them, only raising my voice when it needs to be heard very clearly. It changed my whole life for the better. Any situation or connection which is not contributing to my greater good can be released or even taken a break from.

Once, one of my sons and I took a break from communicating because things were tumultuous between us. As a mom, I felt crushed. I spent many a night crying and lamenting until I finally realized that I was part of the problem. I needed to learn some different parenting skills, became accountable, listen more and stay rooted in my own safety boundaries. I started focusing on how I could do better, and our dynamic grew into a better and more loving space. I needed to lead by example in that situation.

I don’t expect you to compare any situation you may be having to my own. I share these examples because when I chose to own my own life and stand in what felt safe and comfortable for me, it changed everything. When we choose to heal the triggers which once rocked us they aren’t as daunting anymore. We remove the trigger and live from a state of self-care.

Until we choose to put our own peace of mind first, which can also, unfortunately, include pissing people off to do so, we will always be in the negativity zone. Becoming an empowered person means putting our own well being first.

Release unneeded worries. Cease churning negative situations. Create safe boundaries for yourself and adhere to them without fear of backlash. Most of all, accept that we are the only ones who can choose to protect and put ourselves first in our own lives.

Vennie Kocsis is the best-selling author of Cult Child and the hostess of Survivor Voices Show. She is an advocate, poet and artist.