Lately, I’ve been thinking about boundaries. Growing up in a home with a mother that never met a closed door she would not open, I did not have many opportunities to create healthy boundaries. As an adult, I let women in too easily, allowing them to colonize my body and my soul, mostly without my conscious consent. I need to build better boundaries inside and outside of my body. I need to become cognisant of where I energetically begin and end, and learn where other people begin and end as well.
A tandem issue I am grappling with is regulating my emotions, because it is difficult to maintain healthy boundaries when feeling overwhelmed. Often, when I am with a group of people, I am not sure when to speak; I feel stunted and stilted and stuck. I feel hijacked by my somatic experiences. These ‘felt’ experiences feel stronger than what I see or what I hear.
Because I am so sensitive to energies; I have a hard time staying present. I often feel as if I am a pinball in a pinball machine, left to the mercies of the players. When faced with rage or hostility or someone simply having an off day, I take it in and I experience their anger as a strong uncomfortable feeling in my body. I think they are angry at me; so I shut down or I blurt out something inappropriate; so hard for me to just stay present with myself.
Inside of me lives a very young girl that has feigned dead for most of my life. That little girl stayed silent to protect me, and as a survivor mechanism it worked well, but I now need to be present for my young self, I do not want to stay hidden and silent any longer.
To combat these issues, I have started taking yoga classes; ‘senior’ classes to be specific; me and all the other alta kockers. ( Yiddish expression meaning decrepit old Jews) As the session winds down, the instructor puts on soothing music and we are asked to just lie still and breathe. While lying prone and allowing my body to relax; I hear a voice whispering to my younger self, Katharine — trust life. Trust that life will support you. You don’t need to offer someone your shiniest bauble to be loved. You don’t need to scream out loud to be heard. You only have to — as the poet Mary Oliver so wonderfully wrote ‘You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.’
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