We all have days or weeks or months or years or moments where life simply isn’t going as we had planned or wanted or hoped. Days where the actions of others impact us in big and small ways that either we couldn’t anticipate or didn’t expect. Their actions may not be intentionally hurtful or the hurt you feel may not be their fault or issue. And still, here we are, sitting in frustration or confusion or fear or any other number of emotions and needing to re-calibrate and change our own course.
We didn’t “consent” to this other person’s actions that have such a huge impact on us. And, their actions weren’t actually up for us to give permission about.
Often there is a line between my autonomy and right to happiness and yours. And what may bring you happiness may not do the same for me and vice versa. I’m not talking about rape or physical violence or even gaslighting or psychological abuse here – I’m talking about things like canceling dinner plans or not calling when someone says they will or not following through on a promise, either explicitly stated or implied.
So when we talk about boundaries and consent, we also need to talk about resilience and accepting that others may make choices about their own lives that directly impact us and our lives, and how we respond, how we bounce back (or don’t), how we allow space for others to have their boundaries and consent about their own lives even when it may impact, in big or small ways, us.
I don’t have an answer here of when it’s okay and when it’s not or a specific point at which we need to draw our own lines and say “hey this hurts and it’s not okay”. Those answers are as varied as we each are and each of the situations that are in question.
What I do know however, at least for me in my younger years, is that my response to even the slightest “betrayal” would be extreme. That betrayal could have been a friend got sick and had to cancel plans, and I would spin into stories of how she was a selfish bitch (and then often go to the other extreme of how I’m such a shitty person that she just didn’t want to hang out with me in the first place). This reaction is not resilient. This reaction did not gain me more friends (or help me keep the ones I did have). This reaction of everything in the world being about me was not helpful or healthy in any way.
So how do we come to that place of ebb and flow and trust and allowing and knowing and feeling our own boundaries and accepting the same for others?
Work. A lot of fucking work. Coming into our body is part of the work. Developing resilience is part of the work. Maturing emotionally is part of the work. Dealing with our trauma and pain is part of the work. Learning to deeply self reflect and self analyze and being able to pick apart situations to see the Venn diagram of our lives and the lives of others and see how they are separate and how they intersect and coming to terms with the truth that sometimes that intersection isn’t always going to be pleasant or comfortable.
And that that discomfort is OKAY. That we will survive it. That sometimes our discomfort isn’t important in regard to the larger picture. That sometimes our own consent isn’t actually relevant or what we think is a boundary maybe isn’t.
To read more of my writing, sign up for my weekly love letter.