The issue of overstepping boundaries has always been a problem for me. Whenever I find myself feeling close to someone, I attach myself to them.
One of my closest friends had to set boundaries with me pretty early on in our relationship. We might in high school, through a friend of an acquaintance. I was very impressed by her attitude, her style of dress, and that she seemed to want a friendship with me.
I followed her around, called her all the time, tried to dress like her, and tried to talk like her. So she decided it was time to have a tough conversation with me about boundaries. She was glad I felt like I had found someone I could connect with in her, however, I was making her very uncomfortable. I vividly remember her saying to me that imitation was not flattery - which was the direct opposite of what I had always been told.
I was crushed at her rejection of my efforts to try and be closer to her. I was ashamed and embarrassed that I showed her a side of myself that until that time, I didn't know was so strong. I withdrew completely from her; convinced that I was not welcome. I looked up to and wanted to be her - but her rejection reinforced that those desires were not enough to help keep a friendship going.
When she felt my absence, she sought me out, and told me that she wanted my friendship as much as I wanted hers. However, I had to realize that I had value on my own without copying her.
My low self-esteem was causing me to want complete absorption into her instead of having faith that I was worthy enough of her friendship without becoming her. This is a huge flaw of mine that I've yet to overcome, but her setting that boundary with me, in the way that she set that boundary with me, helped me to pull back my troubling behaviors but still have faith that we were friends.
Since that time, the different paths I've taken in life have made me want to seek out friendships with others of diverse backgrounds and cultures. My troubling behaviors resurface each time, and boundaries are put upon me, yet I feel like these boundaries are put in place to only keep me around when I am to be used.
A few years ago, I became close with one of my coworkers. One of her daughters was in my class, and in bonding with the child, she became close to me. Yet as our friendship progressed, I was losing autonomy over myself and surrendering it to her. Because of my desperate need for her friendship and my desire to be useful to someone, it was easy to ignore the oncoming frustration.
I didn't like coming and going from her house at all hours of the night because she didn't feel like taking me home. I didn't like running out of money because I was buying her something or buying something for one of her children. I didn't like when she would show up and have me babysit her kids for unspecified number of hours at no cost. We even ended up living together for eight months, where I had no privacy from her or her children, and constantly dealing with the aftermath of my property being taken/destroyed or bills popping up in my name.
I felt like I was giving up everything to be her friend, but she wasn't giving up any effort to be my friend. Part of that is my self-esteem of course; she could just simply greet me and that would be considered enough for me. Then when I changed and started asking to not be her slave all the time just for the sliver of "friendship" she was giving me, it was a problem.
How dare I want to be treated with respect? Did I not care that she had five children to care for? Did I not care that she needed me to watch her kids any time of the day or night? Did I not care about the household enough to buy them food and pay their utilities? Did I have to be so selfish to want to get to work on time every day? How can I be callous enough to try to get back into college when her children needed a Nanny? What good was our "friendship" if I wanted freedom?
Two years ago, I attached myself to a couple that I was mesmerized by. I was swept up by their love story. I was drawn to their energy. I wanted to be like them and have whatever they had. I felt that the closer I got to them, the more I start becoming like them. So I started messaging them all the time. Following them to events. I asked them if they felt I was smothering them, but they said no; they were endeared by my enthusiasm. I listed that regarded them as Sisters. That was what sent them flying away from me. I was blocked and ignored. I was not to talk about them or to talk to them again.
Just a week ago, members of an establishment I was very fond of decided they wanted to participant in an activity that was very triggering to me. I requested that they let me know ahead of time when they were planning to do this activity so I wouldn't have to be present for it. The response was how much of a killjoy and special snowflake I was to put a damper on what they wanted to do. Why don't I just not look? Why was I making such a big deal out of this? They felt like they couldn't attend the establishment anymore and do what they wanted to do because I was uncomfortable.
Obviously, none these "friendships" and situations lasted. They couldn't last.
I was giving away all of myself in these situations and getting nothing in return but how my needs and desires were nothing if they weren't happy. Boundaries were only useful for them to keep me in line. My comfort and happiness had no factor in how our "relationships" were going to continue.
I feel like boundaries should benefit both parties. It is simply a protection to keep moving forward in new territory. Whether that territory is a friendship or an activity or a relationship. Boundaries shouldn't be used as weapons. To control someone's actions because they don't fit your wants. Both or all parties should be willing to sacrifice something and be frank about the fact that they're willing to sacrifice things to be in someone's life.
In the future, I want to set mutual boundaries with others. If they want to be in my life, then they have to know my past, and then we have to come up with mutually satisfying boundaries so that this relationship can continue. If there's even a slight imbalance on either side when negotiations are made, then that situation, friendship, or relationship is not worth it.