As a former #cultkid – as someone whose brain was intentionally carved so that I would have no concept of (or need for, or ability to have) boundaries and needs – I can still have a hard time figuring out what’s mine and what’s not.

What is my responsibility? What are okay boundaries to have? What is okay to ask for? When is it okay to say no? Why do I even have to think through whether or not these are okay?

This can still leave me very, very confused.

When you’re upset with me, I can still second guess myself. Did I do something wrong? Was it unfair what I asked of you? Or what I asked for for myself?

If I’ve let you down, or fallen short of your expectations, or made a request that turned you off (and away), what of that is mine? Did I do something wrong? Was it unfair what I asked of you? Or what I asked for for myself?

Again, I can still get very, very confused, and my first engrained response is to doubt myself, my reality, my perspective…and especially my needs.

But I am learning, and I am strengthening (or finding) these muscles. It is sinking in that though you may not like what I did or how I did it, it’s not inherently wrong. I’m not inherently wrong. You’re not inherently wrong. Very few things are.

I may still take the hit hard and begin to turn against myself when you’re not happy with me, but I’m learning to steady myself, to ask for a reality check from someone I trust, and to gain the support and validation I need – sometimes from myself and sometimes from others.

I’ve gotten some great insight from those I’ve turned to:

  • If someone is caught in their own pain or overwhelm, it’s hard, if not nearly impossible, for them to see beyond themselves. If someone doesn’t understand where or how you are or what you’re going through (for example, cancer or chemo), it’s hard, if not nearly impossible, for them to understand your perspective and take it into consideration.
  • If someone else might react differently to this situation, then the reaction is more about the person than the situation or what you did (or didn’t do).
  • Just because someone is upset with you doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong or inappropriate. It is often them being caught in their perspective (as all of us often, if not usually, are). And, again, there is very little that is inherently wrong or inappropriate.
  • You were taught not to have needs, much less wants, so standing up for yourself will feel uncomfortable and bad (sinful in my #religioustrauma mind). Look at your actions; check in with your heart; question your first shamed response; and take it from there.
  • No matter how much someone else may think I should do things the way they would, or respond as they expect me to respond, that’s actually not my job. My job is to be kind, to be open to their perspective and needs, to come from love, and to take care of myself. Just like theirs is the same.

This has shown up more and more recently. I have felt let down by others – which is, similarly, more about my expectations of them and my need for them to act or respond as I would. Just because I have needs – or I set up boundaries – doesn’t mean that the other person will respect and honor them. I have to realize that, and I have to figure out what I will do with and about that. I have let others down – which I try to remember is often more about their expectations of me.

It all gets very, very mushy, but I am learning – more and more – where I stop and others start. What is my job – to be loving and clear, to take care of myself, and to (still) love myself first, most, and always. And what isn’t – pretty much everything else.

I’m figuring out what’s mine.

How about you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Photo by Alyssa Sieb on nappy

If you have been in ANY high control group or religion, share your story with the hashtag #IGotOut. Share on your own platform OR if you need to be anonymous and/or would like support, there are resources at the @igotout_org website.

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