Boundaries in Betrayal Trauma Recovery
Boundaries are a part of every healthy relationship. They are the way in which we know how to relate to each other and know how our relationships works. Sadly, in unhealthy relationships there is usually a distinct lack of boundaries, healthy or otherwise. Unhealthy relationships tend to be very lopsided thusly allowing the abuser many boundaries. These boundaries often change and are unreasonable or unappropriate and the survivor has almost none. The boundaries the survivor does have are regularly violated or minimized.
This regular violation is actually a form of abuse, intentional or not, and is meant to demean and break down the other person. If the survivor tries to enforce the boundaries the abuser will attack and act like it is an unreasonable request and usually go as far as to imply that it is abuse of some sort. An example of this could be a habitual online cheater who agreed to no Facebook boundry to “fix” the relationship only to then now accuse the survivor of being controlling and abusive. Another example would be the abuser moving the survivors things that are placed in specific places and acting like the survivor must be crazy to care about it being moved from its designated spot.
In Betrayal Trauma Recovery learning to set appropriate boundaries and sticking to them is literally half the battle. When you have healthy boundaries and get far enough into recovery, the other person can no longer abuse you. In recovery one of two things will happen, you will stop allowing the abuser to break boundaries or they will change to follow the boundaries. In a healthy relationship that is how boundaries work. So engaging in healthy thinking patterns and setting healthy boundaries are of utmost importance.
Healthy thinking patterns go hand in hand with healthy boundaries. Thinking patterns determine how you view the world and what you feel you deserve. These patterns are how you filter input like the way someone talks to you and how you feel about it. If you have healthy thinking patterns you will begin to expect more healthy treatment which translates into healthier boundaries.
As we gain healthier thinking patterns and healthy boundaries we will need to work on mindfulness to allow us to feel what we need to change in our lives. I always suggest using the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy method of writing down what bothers someone and break that down into the situation, how they felt about it, why they felt that way and proof. This gives a basis to look at thinking patterns and beliefs that are being implemented. As we progress in our new way of thinking we then assess our boundaries to find what are positive and healthy boundaries that work for us and negative unhealthy boundaries that we have been allowing to be present in our lives. If something is causing problems multiple times then it is time to evaluate what boundary needs to be established to stop this from happening.
One thing about boundaries is that they must be about you and not the other person. They can not be used to punish but to promote your safety and happiness. That doesn’t mean they are to control or make anyone do anything. As you work on being healthy and recovery you will grow to understand boundaries and what they are needed for.
Example: My husband’s pornography use makes me feel sexually unsafe because the way it causes him to view sex and myself.
How can I have a boundary that makes me feel safe without being to punish him or to control him?
Well I am only able to control myself so my boundary is that if he is using pornography we are not sexual and I do not sleep with him because that makes me feel unsafe. To fix this I need him to stop using and to work on getting help with his addiction and counseling for us both. Not together in the beginning, just that we both see someone. When I feel safe we can sleep together and resume our normal relations. If he doesn’t follow the boundary I continue to sleep somewhere else. Its is not about him or punishment, it is all about my safety.
If you’d like help making healthy boundaries or healthy thinking patterns I am available for Recovery Coaching. We will focus on all needed steps to be safe, happy, and fulfilled.
Any questions or comments please contact me below and I will reply soon.