A serious boundary violation…



Boundary breached:

  • private space within my apartment

 By whom:

  • my husband, from whom I am separated

What happened:

  • I went to the apartment for the afternoon to get some much-needed solitude and space.
  • I fell asleep and wasn’t answering his texts or calls over the course of about an hour and a half.
  • He showed up, banging on my door. [How did he get past the gate anyway? He must have followed someone in…so much for that false sense of security…]
  • I let him in and explained I fell asleep and had just jumped in the shower and was heading back over to the house shortly.
  • He began looking around the apartment and headed toward my bedroom.
  • When he got to the doorway of my bedroom, I felt a tremendous sense of my privacy being violated. I asked him to stop and stood in his way.
  • He gently but firmly pushed me out of his way and entered anyway.
  • I stayed calm and told him that wasn’t OK.
  • Then I became a bit irrational and asked him if he wanted to search the apartment because he seemed to be looking for another person. 
  • He was stunned because I put up a clear boundary and he chose to disregard it. 
  • THE HITCH: I tried to smooth things over [codependent behaviors] and told him the lease was up in 2 months and there’d be no more apartment. He got what he wanted, which was a commitment to give it up, but it was the result of manipulation and he knew it. Now it is my responsibility to go back and unravel it.
  • THE NET: The issue wasn’t him coming over to the apartment (he was worried when he didn’t hear from me), the issue was the privacy breach once inside. I stuck up for my boundary but defaulted to codependent behaviors thereafter to assuage his brooding and any passive aggressive punishment that would likely follow. 
  • Enabling is anything I do or don’t do that allows a destructive behavior to continue and, in this case, I ultimately enabled the hell out of his behavior. Tiptoeing – enables behavior to continue, as does my avoidance of resulting discussions.

I felt:

  • shamed
  • humiliated
  • controlled
  • manipulated
  • treated with a lack of respect
  • like I didn’t deserve or need any privacy
  • like my feelings did not matter
  • like I had no right to have a reasonable expectation of privacy, in my own apartment.

What makes me feel emotionally unsafe:

  • anger: rationalizing away harsh, critical, judgmental behavior
  • sanitizing: take something ugly and making it not so bad
  • sarcasm
  • disgust
  • lack of privacy [causes hypervigilance] 

It is not OK to:

  • disrespect my need for privacy and boundaries
  • withhold by disengaging in anger or frustration
  • passively punish me
  • seethe
  • manipulate me 
  • not take responsibility for regulating your emotions
  • not take responsibility for when you’ve crossed the line

What I need:

  • safety and security in my own thoughts and personal space
  • privacy
  • no surprises and/or loud noises
  • ask me if you want to know something, be direct
  • give me the room to work on myself without pressure
  • work on your own stuff
  • quiet (counters anxiety)
  • read up on C-PTSD and learn how you can help as well as tips to avoid bumps
  • honor the fact that we are two separate individuals and while we are intent on having a life together, we also have to be intent on being ourselves
  • recognize that what I am going through seems very acute at the moment but that I am healing a lot of things through this very difficult process
  • recognize that this is a snapshot in time and not forever
  • recognize that I am targeting and changing dysfunctional behaviors that have prevented me from developing a full sense of self
  • recognize that I am very sensitive to noise and that I probably need more quiet and calm that I ever have or probably ever will, once I have moved through this process
  • understand that what I am dealing with is standing in the way of every interaction, every relationship, and all chances of career development and/or survival
  • understand that I am doing the very best that I can with what I have and that I am proud of my progress
  • Understand that our relationship is dependent upon both of us taking the steps necessary to heal our individual selves so we can be our whole selves in the relationship, and without that foundation we do not stand a chance.
  • Accept that we both have to change individually so we can change as a couple and that it is going to be really hard.
  • Accept that if we don’t deal with our individual issues that our children will be deprived of the best Us that we can be. 
  • Commit to aggressively taking care of your issues because the longer they remain unaddressed, the harder it is for me to make progress without completely disengaging from the relationship just so I can survive.

Who I am dealing with:

  • a wounded adult child who will likely react with anger and all of the other shit that comes with the inability to regulate one’s own emotions.

Likelihood of success in getting through to him:

  • irrelevant: I am trying to be a whole, healthy individual who can make positive contributions to the marriage which requires that I develop a solid, cohesive sense of self. It is not MY job to regulate HIS emotions. 

My need for space seems to cause him to feel insecure. The white-knuckled attachment is only making it more difficult for me to take space when I need it (NOTE: this is different than running from my problems!). I’m at the house a lot because he wants me there. 

I am suffocating.

That said, I’ve become so exhausted at times from all of this work but finding great joy in catching myself doing the same unhealthy things. The positive part of that is acceptance quickly followed by action through practice. 

Facing it down is better than avoid it. Whatever it is. I don’t have an option here. My change terrifies him. While I feel compassion and empathy, I cannot sacrifice my life for him or anyone else, any more. 

Now: how do I have the conversation?


10 thoughts on “A serious boundary violation…

      • Both sort of. I wouldn’t necessarily show the blog….but I might show this particular one via email or email him something similar. He really really needs to know how far he crossed the line

      • Thanks for clarifying that Dan.

        Interestingly, I wrote the lists while waiting to chat with you by phone…I refined it last night before publishing after sitting with the lists for a day or so to check my gut.

        Gut check outcome: yep. It’s not OK.

        It’s very hard to explain to someone with good boundaries and a good sense of self why I even questioned my feelings. Since I’m still new at this boundary thing, it’s part of my process. That said, I’m getting better at it for sure.

  1. This seems all too familiar.

    That’s why, when I got my new apartment, I never let my Ex in…not even once (at the time, we were only separated). I knew in my heart of hearts that if I let him in the first time, not only would he violate my boundaries….he might even take it upon himself to try to move in.

    He tried. He hinted. He raged. He did it all. It felt like a Skittles commercial, “Taste the Rainbow”, because he went through every one of his colors trying to bully his way into my new, personal space, but he got the smack-down every time.

    • “Taste the Rainbow” – wow, what a great descriptive phrase! Unfortunate, but effective nonetheless.

      Since we have the big house in the nice neighborhood, H stayed there and it was my decision to move out. I needed to know that I could lock the door and not be startled. I was too raw. Nobody else has a key and only recently did I give a key to my 17 year old. He’s probably forgotten he has it actually…

      I can guess that H was rationalizing that since “he pays for the apartment” he has every right to do whatever he wants, even though his name is not on the lease.

      Wow. I know I make less, but seriously? That kind of domination has worked in the past (psychologically, emotionally) but no more. I call bullshit.

      • You sound just like me before I left my Ex. I was still giving him the benefit of the doubt and trying to “be nice”.

        Then, I later found out he is a narcissist…the malignant kind, who violated boundaries in the blink of an eye.

        You’re right, he’s probably thinking since he’s paying, he can just boulder in any time he pleases…I’m sorry you had to go through that 😦

      • Ugh! That must have been really rough Kim! Being on the “other side” has got to feel good.

        Well, whatever he thought and whatever his problems are, I’m trying very hard not to assume/diagnose/get distracted. I’m limiting my concerns to a very tight scope: what are my issues and what do I need to do about them? [for the sake of everything!] It is going to be very hard for him to hear that my focus is on me but that’s where things are. If he doesn’t seek help, that’s his choice, but I need to be prepared to 1) accept that and 2) continue to move toward what is healthy for me.

        None of this is optional anymore.

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