In my house, there was no privacy. There were no boundaries. From my dad watching us dress and undress, to forcing us to take showers together as a way to save water, a boundary was not something we knew existed.
I even remember not being allowed to close the bathroom door unless people were over after church, and then we were required to close it. Privacy or a boundary did not exist in my house.
At Christmas, when we would get underwear as a gift, we were expected to try it on to make sure it fit. This was in front of everyone. Merry Christmas – expose yourself to your family and celebrate the holiday!
Boundary Issues – Taking Showers
I hated having to take showers with my dad or older brother, especially in my teenage years. Many times when my dad would take a bath, I’d get called up to wash his back for him. Of course, he’d be playing with himself which would require me to take over those actions. Again, when you’re a teenage boy, this is the last thing you want to be doing.
Boundary Issues – Sex
When I was a very young boy, I was forced to watch my parents have sex. It was my dad’s way of teaching about the birds and the bees. I still am haunted by being frozen as I stood there unable to leave, confused by what he was doing to my mom.
I remember in high school, he would get me away from others and constantly want to know details of my sex life. He wanted to hear it all and would ask repeatedly whenever he could get the opportunity. In his mind he justified it as helping to teach us about sex, but in reality I think he was getting his jollies from it.
Privacy Issues – Humiliation
There were no boundaries in the house and no privacy. Whatever you did or said or thought was property of the royal household king. It wasn’t uncommon for my dad to ridicule anything you did in private in front of the whole family.
There was nothing sacred or private in our house. Whatever you did, you had better expect it to be announced to everyone in the house or outside of the house. Nothing was off limits. It felt more like humiliation at times, but it was really a lack of boundaries.
To this day, I struggle with knowing when anyone is taking advantage of me or obliterating my boundaries and privacy. It isn’t an easy thing to determine when you’ve grown up in a house that is anything but normal. Of course, growing up in this, it became normal because it was all I knew. I just figured that everyone else experienced the same thing. It took me years to learn that they did not.
Mike Lew Workshop At VOICES
I’ll never forget sitting in a workshop with Mike Lew at a VOICES Conference (Victims Of Incest Can Emerge Survivors) where we were talking about boundaries. We were supposed to visualize our boundaries on different things in the exercise. For me, it was difficult to even comprehend that a boundary could exist.
A Boundary and Privacy – Foreign Concept
Boundaries are essential to living in this world, but when they were nonexistent or obliterated at every turn, they are a foreign concept. They impact everything you do in life. It is difficult to determine what is proper behavior by others and what is not because those moments were shattered a long time ago.
While you can work to teach yourself what is healthy and what is not, there is plenty of evidence that many people struggle with this. We want our kids to have healthy relationships in all parts of their lives, but yet we fail to teach them through our actions. Maybe what we wish to see in this world, when it comes to healthy boundaries, is through what we should be teaching by our own actions.