Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Other Side of Boundaries: Value Those Who Genuinely Care For You. The Rare Beauty of Deep Connections. Accepting "Socially Inappropriate" Behaviours as Beauty too. Expressions of Gratitude.

Boundaries and letting go are important concepts for an INFJ to learn. They have been my focal points for about a decade. I will forever be learning in the realm of "appropriateness" and proper boundaries. But there is a counter balance to this lesson. Luckily, for me, this counter balance comes more naturally. However, in the past, it threw me often into the deep end of other's grasping hands of use or desperation. So I had to learn to bury my depth of caring. I began burying it with distant friends, then in immediate circles, and finally this mentality even bled into my relationship with my husband. Luckily, my children were always my constant. They continued to allow me to be ME. They adored me as I was and am. If it wasn't for them, I think I may have locked that aspect of myself forever in the dark recesses of my soul.

But they were there. With their unconditional love, support, and acceptance. And I saw that it didn't matter how intense I was, how absolutely quirky or ridiculously animated I became...whatever I was, and how tightly I held on to them- they loved me back or more for it. When I showed them every day how much I cared in varied ways, they didn't ask me to put up more boundaries. They simply accepted. Of course I had a few natural, healthy boundaries, but I didn't have to actively practice "boundaries" with them the way I had to with others. What a relief that was!

Boundaries are important. For the rest of my life I will be writing, implementing and learning about boundaries, letting go, and allowing growth to take me in different directions. But there IS another side. And I will forever constantly be torn between the healthy endeavour of fitting in, being socially appropriate, and making healthy parameters around myself and my family...and being whom I naturally am at my core; an extremely giving, innocent, intense, deep and quirky person who craves time, depth and emotional connection.


A few years back I found a balance between these two aspects. But life is a journey of growth, mistakes and successes. This new season, I am re learning what I already knew. After my aunt died, there was a moment when I realized that, "There is one less person in the world who loved me for ME. Who thought my quirkiness was brilliant, who wanted to protect my innocence, who believed in my words, and wished the best for me. One less person who thought my temper was valuable and amusing and didn't take offence when I was "off," distant or moody. And one less person in the world who I felt the same for back." That hit me hard. 

Recently, one of my former best friends from High School was over. We see each other a few times a year and pick up where we left off for the most part. She will forever be another person who loves me for me in varying aspects. Religiously we are worlds apart and have conflict. But when it comes to my quirks or fears, she has my back. And I have hers. We were talking about her grandparents passing away and she astounded me with saying the exact same phrase I said above. She softly remarked that there were now less people in the world who loved her for HER. Who didn't care if she was fat or skinny, rebellious or kind, successful or failing in any regard...they just loved HER. At that moment I, once again, realized why we are still friends. Our brains often formulate the same response to life. Our ethics are similar even if our beliefs are not. We wish for authenticity and connection, beauty, innocence, sweetness, and family ties. For the most part, we both see value in the same places. We laugh boisterously together and she shares memories with my daughter. That, is invaluable.

This had me thinking about all of the people in my life. It is tough to express, in the busyness of life, how much a person can mean. A single connection out of the blue can change our lives. One text conversation can alter our destiny. People are often conduits of growth. We often forget to thank them. Until one day we realize they are absent. They are either far away or out of this life. If they have passed onward without our expression of gratitude that is a moment that can never be given back.

Luckily, in the cases of my aunt and my mother in law (both of whom passed on in the last couple years) I have text feeds that I went out of my comfort zone to express my gratitude for their role in my life. Because I knew the end was coming. I was able to make a video for my MIL and show it to her in one of her awake moments, of the children and my husband, to a song, to thank her for everything she had done in our lives. With my aunt, we shared a couple vulnerable conversations. These conversations have slowly become an engrained part of my soul. They shape how I am with others. They shape my responses in mind and heart.

Strangers can also change our lives forever. Blog writers, books, music, film, actors, past friends, distant relatives, frenemies, close friends, besties, spouses, extended family, children, children's friends, neighbours...Each of these people may be in need of words of encouragement. Their beauty deserves to be celebrated. Kindness should be acknowledged. Care deserves gratitude. And often I bury my overwhelming gratitude because it is not considered "socially appropriate." Yet, the me before boundaries, regularly gave this without thought. When I was 26 years old, I found out that a gal in town despised me. I was so shocked because I didn't even know her. I knew OF her, but I had never had personal interactions with her. So, I began to watch for her downtown and nod with acknowledgement. When that didn't work, I dropped off a gift at her house through a mutual friend with a note apologizing for anything I may have done to offend and hoping an offering of goodwill would suffice. I didn't want another enemy. I wasn't trying to control how someone felt about me. I just wanted to give peace a chance, because that is who I am.

Of course it backfired. She thought I was weird. She told our mutual friend, "Who does that? Who leaves a gift to someone they don't know? What's her angle?" But I stuck to my guns because I knew I did my best. People will judge or perceive you how they view the world. It's not your job to change that. But it is your job to make sure you are acting within your own ethics. I wanted to try for peace. I wanted to acknowledge that she was a beautiful person in her own way, even if we would never be friends. And I knew we wouldn't be because of our personalities. But I wanted to show my acknowledgement of who she was. Do I regret that action? No. Because I know I went into it with thought out intentions and a pure heart. Did I cry later when I found out that I was labelled a freak even though I had to overcome some cowardice to do the action in the first place? Yes I did. It hurt to be so misunderstood. But I came to the conclusion that I understood myself, I knew why I did what I did, and there will be people who don't get it...and that's ok. I am still glad I did it. To me, it's not about the ending, or hopeful resolution (though both are nice bonuses if given), but trying my best, within whom I am, to acknowledge another's existence in peace and gratitude. 

Those situations happened too many times to count in my past. I still give awkward gifts to my Dentist, my Hygienists and basically any professional that helps me. I don't do this to get anything, but instead to show my gratitude for their roles in my life. I sometimes get weird looks. But most of the time, I get astounded shock followed by, "This is exactly what I needed today." My dental receptionist, whom I barely know but has always been so kind to me on the phone, remarked after a gift, "My niece died this week and your gift was the one unexpected bright spot in my week. Thank you. It had me teary in a good way which was a welcome relief."

We don't always get the privilege of knowing how our words of beauty affect others. Sometimes we do not need to know. But we need to give. Gratitude doesn't just serve the one receiving, but also the one giving. When we acknowledge the crucial words, role or love someone has given us with thankfulness, we also see our own growth, our paths, and the love infused around us.

The lack of these words in our lives is a loss. Some of it comes down to laziness. To combat this, I actively try to write a few words of kindness, acknowledgement or beauty back to someone in text, on Instagram posts, or in email as soon as I read. For instance, if someone writes something vulnerable, I hope to validate their bravery. By writing a few words I am essentially saying, "I see you." That matters. Kind comments matter. Every comment I have received on and off my blog, about how my words helped someone, are now part of the fabric of my being. Some are from strangers I will never see or know, yet they are interestingly a part of me. While others are faces I cherish, belong to, and get to love in a tangible way. Both are of value.

As I have practiced boundaries, I have given less in this way. I used to give gifts, send letters, emails and cards all the time. It wasn't bad of me to stop. In fact, I needed to give myself a new phase with practice emphasized on only giving to myself and a few key people. Yet, at the same time, I have missed that girl a bit. The brave one who constantly stepped out of her comfort zone because she saw beauty and wanted to value it by acknowledging it. A girl who cried in her closet when people found her terrifying or weird, but still stuck to her ways of being in the world anyway ,because she knew it was HER beauty and goodness. A girl who was used to people running from her open arms because they didn't know what to do with her love, but she loved anyway. Maybe it was too intense at times. Maybe "socially inappropriate" too, but it was HER truth. 

The quote above was a phrase similar to what my husband used to say to me when I would cry after these experiences. Sometimes he would sway me from sending an email, not because he didn't believe in my words, but because he knew the receiver would be less than perspective taking or kind. He wanted to spare me more grief. But other times, he knew the grief would come but knew I had to honour who I was. He would wait to pick up the pieces and tuck them back into my soul to be used again. What a lovely expression of love. He would tell me that I was one of the only genuine souls he knew. That my Aspie self gave an alien sort of balance to humanity. He encouraged me not to lose this muchness.

On the flip side, I had to learn how to do this in a less scary way...for the most part. People are scared by genuine care because often it is used to mask sinister behaviour. I had to learn to accept this fact. To work around it. Or to sometimes act in spite of it. But over time I became too socially appropriate. I am often more appropriate in conduct, words and deeds than my "normal" friends. I have become that obedient trained puppy, in some regards. While my behaviour now often gets rewarded from the masses, I have lost some of that joy. That unshakable trust and love given has diminished a bit. And I want it back.

I will not be the same person I was years ago. I have learned too much. But it's time to re adjust my own balance. To value those who genuinely care for me and to just be ME when I give back, regardless of what is thought of me. My biggest gift to those I love is often my words in writing. I need to honour that. Be it in a card, text, email, post, comment ect. I have held back for almost a decade. I learned some good lessons. Many of which I will implement and take with me. As an INFJ boundaries will ALWAYS be needed, necessary and hard to balance. But as an Autistic person, it is important for me to also BE whom I am, which IS socially inappropriate. The few who have seen my genuine soul in this regard, like me even more for this part of me. They may laugh sometimes or get a kick of amusement out of my social blunders, but they find it refreshing too. I need BOTH. I AM both.

If you are an INFJ whom has never practiced boundaries, you may need to go the other way. I have spent a better half of a decade in that zone and I don't regret it at all. But now it is time for a new phase. I am unsure how it will look. I will make mistakes. It will be interesting to incorporate the new boundary filled me while unlocking the hidden intense parts of my soul I buried deep in most situations because I wanted to make other people comfortable. There are different situations for the different sides of persona. My children have taught me that we are most worthy of love, being whom we are. Boundaries are accepting that those who can not see that, can walk away. Being genuine requires us to still be that person that we are regardless.

It is such a gift to have someone see you. In words or deeds. As I am writing this numerous faces are flashing through my head. Elementary and High school friends, relatives, far away friends, Internet friends, called to question participants, professionals, frenemies (people who I may not be fond of or they may not be fond of me but we also played a role in each other's decisions by doing so), therapists, neighbours, parents of friends, children of friends... beautiful, unique souls that are all a part of me...and I am intensely grateful. In this circumstance I refuse to tone down my intensity. I am overwhelmed with teary happiness that I have witnessed aspects of these people's lives and they have witnessed mine.

To all of them, and to you, the stranger reading this blog, I acknowledge you. I wish I could have a deep conversation with you. Be it once and short but valuable or an ongoing friendship. I wish I could express my thankfulness to the unique place you have in my fabric of existence. With some, we have had these conversations and will again. With others, the future is waiting in bravery, and some will unfortunately never have an expression other than this.

With Deep, Intense, Genuine Thankfulness for your place in this world and my place in your world;

"Where there is love, I'll be there. I'll reach out my hand to you. I'll have faith in all you do. Just call my name, and I'll be there. I'll be there to comfort you, build my world of dreams around you, I'm so glad that I found you. I will be there with a love that's strong. I will be your strength. I will keep holding on..."

If Tomorrow Never Comes- Garth Brooks: "So tell that someone that you love, Just what you're thinking of, If tomorrow never comes. Cuz I've had loved ones in my life, who never knew how much I loved them. Now I live with the regret that my true feelings for them never were revealed. So I made a promise to myself, to say each day how much they mean to me, and avoid that circumstance where there's no second chance, to tell them how I feel..."

Glee- You have more friends than you know "Those who love you the most may need more time to grow..."


Anonymous said...

Your article is absolutely beautiful. I can relate to much of what you wrote—of scaring people with being genuine & emotionally intense. You are wise to choose to just continue being who you are, even if it’s not received or reciprocated. Because you have to be who you are. Thank you for the reminder to give and express appreciation in tangible ways. I definitely struggle with the fear of being misunderstood. But there are so many times when it does minister to a person’s soul—so it’s a risk worth taking. I definitely learned a lot about how to be a risk taking friend from you. But I don’t express gratitude to the people in my life nearly as much as I ought.

Thank you for the love you have shown me. I agree with your husband—don’t loose your muchness!



Kmarie said...

Thank you Cindy:)
You had me a little teary. Honestly, your genuine words are always something I've appreciated. You are very gifted in expressions and being authentic;) I'm glad u were encouraged to keep being you despite misunderstanding sometimes. I found you also innocence and intensity refreshing. You were always caring and fully embodied friendship. Out of the many people I knew, you truly stand out in that regard. You also taught me how to be a friend. ♥️
I really appreciate you giving feedback- made my day today 💕😘
Love K

Anonymous said...

This was one of my favourite posts of yours. You are sweet. Im glad I'm your "bestie." Sara

S said...

I can relate to this post so much. Most of my life, I have been intensely emotional and a always a "giver", yet also distant when "giving" was required of me. The "distant" phase was when I put up boundaries. It is a paradox, actually. I don't know about you but personally, I tend to be a giver when people don't need me yet very detached when people want me. It actually works like this : giving is followed by "people not wanting me" and so I put up boundaries and become detached and at that time people wonder why I have suddenly become detached-it is a kind of an ongoing loop. Is it the same with you ? Have you noticed this pattern ? It is a trait that swings to the extreme-loving and giving,full of intensity one moment and then suddenly, setting up boundaries and becoming cool and detached. Always too intense or detached-nothing in between. This confuses most people.

Also, I have seen that people back-stab one moment and the very next day, they all become lovey- dovey- this is how most people carry on with each other, forgive and forget easily- Well, I am not like that at all, I do not understand these kind of relationships. I am quite serious and loyal and have no inclination for these types of frivolous friendships/relationships.

I am sorry about the incident that happened to your 26 year old self.I have had friends and (acquaintances )like that, snapping in and out of my life, people who disliked/dislikes me, won't invite me to their wedding, my own relatives who are over friendly with my husband and yet not spare a glance at me even if we are in the same room- I can give you so many examples.
I know that I am unique and different and although for most part of my life, I wanted to fit in and find out why these undesirable incidents are happening in my life, I have finally put a stop to all of these quests and questioning and doubts and have embarked on a journey of "self development" and on focusing on my own life, and I said-to hell with the world.
I have noticed that :-The "more" I focus on the world and my relations, the "less" I focus on myself (and vice-versa). This is how the equation works. And having learned the equation, I now do what I love doing the most, with or without boundaries. Sometimes, I cannot set boundaries with certain people (it simply doesn't work sometimes) and in spite of that, I focus on myself and on myself only when the going gets tough.

Thank you for writing this post. Thank you also for your gratitude. In the midst of all this confusion and pain, I am also grateful that I have you as my friend, as my fellow kindred soul, a deep thinker like me, you came to my life when I was going through a lot of confusion and you cleared that for me. I am thankful and grateful to you.

Kmarie said...

😘❤️ lol glad you're my "bestie" too! 👏🦋♥️

Kmarie said...

S: I could see that paradox...Yes sometimes for me that is there too...I have that pattern especially with tears...if someone is overly emotional I get more calm...if they are always calm I become more emotional. I tend to find the balance in those situations...
Yes you are right that many carry onn that way. I do not understand that fully either.
I think if one is to be a person of substance and BE themselves there will ALWAYS be people who do not like them . Which is a good sign as it shows they are not modulating or appeasing to all the masses. But sometimes it can initially be painful and I am sorry you have experienced it multiple times too.

I like your mentality. Developing of self first is so crucial to inner peace. YES!!!! So wise- that is exactly how the equation works!!!!!

Awe I am grateful I have you as my friend too. Thank you. That is very sweet and yes I am glad I have a kindred soul and deep thinker for a friend in you too. I am glad I could help clear some confusion - that means a lot. You helped me know I was supported and that some people out there needed my thoughts which was crucial to my well being. I am grateful for you too. xoxo