Trinkets and Armor, 3: Boundaries Save Lives (and teeth)


If you’re visiting from Poets United and wish to delight only in the poetry, scroll down to the end of the post, to read “Sister to Storm to Dirt to Flame”.


In “Normal Is a Self-Defeating Trap”, we discussed flexibility, and suggested that to overcome some of life’s challenges, we must learn to twist and stretch, to push the boundaries of who we are, until we can grow… into who we need to be.

This week, I wish to play with Flexibility’s healthily-stuck-up cousin: Boundaries. When our energy is limited (something that comes with being alive. I mean, when was the last time you saw a zombie beaten by exhaustion? Exactly! The undead will continue to bite even when their guts are gone). Anyway, when our energy is significantly restricted by ailments (or whatever), we must become rather choosy.

I’m beyond possessive when it comes to my time, my wants, the needs of my spirit and flesh. This doesn’t always endear me to most people. But I’m not all that bothered by what most people think of me, since I’ve already learned that trying to be friends with most people is a grueling impossibility. I’m careful to be as selective with my friends as I am with what my mouth consumes, what I let my brain feast on, and with the sorts of activities that occupy my time.

I understand that setting boundaries isn’t easy. You see, I have a dear friend who is often made physically ill by inconsequential political debates, by things people do to each other, by things certain oxygen thieves pretending to be people have said to her… In the past, I used to ask her, “Why do you continue talking to that energy-vampire? Why do you let people, whose words and actions have proved they have neither heart nor brain, drag you into their nonsense?” The list goes on and on… After more than one panic attack, we figured out that my sweet, huge-hearted friend was terrified of what saying “Enough!” might’ve meant. Well, it has meant many moments of tranquility and a much shorter friend list. She still stumbles into random forums of doom, every now and again. But… she can get away before the rot oozed by someone else’s idiocy swallows her whole.

My friend has developed many tools to establish boundaries. Moi? I have a trunk full of them. Let me share 3 out of the bunch: 1. I’m extremely selective when it comes to close friends. 2. I don’t waste my time on activities (or people) that bring nothing but grief into my life. 3. I always, always prioritize.

For me, the last one is the most important. It can also be the hardest, particularly when it comes to the seemingly small things. I’ll use an example from blogging, since… well, we are here, aren’t we? I’ve lost more than a handful of blog friends since I figured out that my energy levels aren’t what they used to be. In the past, I had the time and endurance to read and comment on almost everything my friends posted. But… things change. These days, you might never see me on your blog, if I haven’t seen you on mine first—I always comment on the words of people who comment on my words. It’s an efficient way of prioritizing my blog reading time. If I see you here, I will visit your cyber-home. If I don’t see you, I might visit you (if time permits, but as you already read, time isn’t that great at permitting).

My behavior says nothing about the writing of the people whose work I might not read anymore, but… when it comes to some of them, you’d think that I’ve yelled that their words are fresh crap and their mother’s best brownies look like old crap.

They aren’t happy with me. One spoke of “abandonment”. Another said that I’ve gone “commercial and unartistic” (I don’t even know what that means). The most enraged of them all went as far as to suggest that I’m “comment-hungry”, and that people read and comment on my “over-simplistic poetry” just because they expect me to “fluff their substandard drivel” with “empty sugary”. I shall be as brave as Dumbledore, and “try not to sink beneath [my] anguish… but battle on” *cough*.

Hysterical, isn’t it? I agree. So much… that I postponed the Trinkets and Armor prompt I had readied for today (Stigma) and decided to go with boundaries. You see, it is very likely that I will never go back to most of their blogs. Not because they belittled my ink and my relationship with other writers and readers, but because my immune system and I don’t need their toxic nonsense. This does not mean that I won’t miss some of the writing—some of them are quite talented. But… sometimes, one must let go of certain pleasures, in order to keep one’s sanity (and to avoid skinning one’s knuckles on other people’s broken teeth).

So… my Luvs, how good are you at setting boundaries, at recognizing your limits, at remembering to say, “Enough!” (when you must) and moving on…?


My poetic contribution for this week is part of an oldie that’s still a goodie:

“Sister to Storm to Dirt to Flame”

I was Sister to Storm to Dirt to Flame
before she,
who claimed to have chosen me as her own,
fancied glitter could glamour
the broken spine of usurped energy.

Stagnant through time and Realms,
the twinkling twit
has met not the wisdom that feeds
the babes in evolution’s belly—

a witch in touch
with the Nature who made her
would never pretend…

or believe a rogue made of her magic
could shoot arrows through my blood.


If you are participating in Trinkets and Armor, please add the direct link to your entry at the end of your comment. If you don’t have a blog, or don’t wish to write a post, add your contribution as a comment. If you can, take a minute to read other entries. Unrelated links will be deleted without explanation.

a wee note…
– Trinkets and Armor is moving to Sundays, starting
August 5th will be posted sometime between Thursday night and Sunday morning whenever *cough*.


105 thoughts on “Trinkets and Armor, 3: Boundaries Save Lives (and teeth)”

  1. Topic could not be more timely. Dealing with a certain energy vampire who was affecting my actual health (blood pressure soaring through the roof), I set some boundaries. She was most un-pleased. But my blood pressure came down. LOL. Magaly, those horrible comments are outrageous. What are people thinking? I will watch the conversation here with relish………

    • People who drain the life out of other people are a terrible thing to endure. And it can be rather sad, since some of them don’t even mean it–they just don’t seem to be able to help spreading their misery. I’m glad you were able to find a way to remove yourself. I’m sure your heart is pumping a lot easier.

      About people spewing horridness. Well, people will be people… and some of them just suck.

  2. I have always been really bad at setting boundaries. I just can’t bring myself to say “I can’t, I won’t, I don’t have time, no”. So therefore, I have let others abuse my good nature, time and energy.
    I am at a crossroads with regard to time and energy. I am limited in both arenas. My good nature has also flown the coop with the degree of stress caused by the lack of the other two.
    I still would love to be of help physically, mentally, emotionally but only on my terms now.
    I have had to learn recently, to just let people either understand or walk away mad. I don’t know any other way to say, “I hurt today and I can’t”.
    It will most certainly have to do because……It just must.

    • Oma Linda
      I love what you wrote..saying ” I hurt today and I can’t”..powerful, raw, honest and beautiful, you touched my heart. I am glad you are being true to you, shine on! yes, saying your truth and then letting others react or understand.., it takes courage…glad you are doing what you must! I know it is hard, but it is worth it. Sometimes we know that we can no longer abandon our self..we deserve the energy/time/focus and we vitally need to give it to our self.
      Thanks for sharing.

    • Even after we’ve been saying “No” for ages, every now and then we fall in it again. That’s why we need each other close… So that when one forgets, the other remembers to shout, “Run!”

    • and don’t let the “guilt” factor add to the drainage….that is the tool others have tried on me whenever I said no. You do not have to explain yourself to others…you DO have to look after yourself. XXX

  3. Gorgeous witchy-soulfulness..I feel it in my bones…every word…I love this poem! Perfect for this wkd and powerful moon activity. The title as well, is very potent. Beautiful visuals in my head!

    I have more to comment on ….but I just wanted to say…woah…I am stunned at the negative commentary you have shared! Really? seriously? Wild!! Hmm… eclipses are for eclipsing OUT what we no longer need in our lives…so perhaps it is perfect timing this wkd.. that you are having such experiences with others. It is a gift. I think we should lift one another up and never hate on another’s artistic/creative essence…so strange to me. I value your world and you, your artistry, your writing…and appreciate you!

    Boundaries are sacred, they are gift givers..they have served me well..and yes, have made me very unpopular, so be it! There was a time in my life where I lost my health. It was a seven year period of being ill to recovering, but it taught me everything..the most profound journey I endured..I value my health/life and all that it took to restore my was the most magical time as well, I know that sounds strange but it brought me to my self and soul and spirit fully. And nothing gonna mess with that!

    I think whatever one is facing..we have to honor what is best within , no parameters on that inner world..but when it comes to others/the external world/obligations/expectations etc..boundaries are vital for they are the supportive waters that nourish our soul and spirit..ironically boundaries make us boundless and free.

    I love your friends rules .. I agree with them all, brilliant.

    • I don’t think feeling suggesting that the times when we are most vulnerable are the most magical sounds strange at all. I’ve been fairly sick since 2013. I don’t think I’ve ever been as close to me, to those who truly love me, and to Nature… as I’ve been these last five years. Like you, I’ve been learning new things about me, about what matters, about what keeps my heart dancing and my ink flowing… Pain isn’t a blessing, but it makes us squint enough to notice where the blessings are.

      About the people saying less than flattering things, they don’t matter. Maybe that’s the reason behind their tantrums–they want to be noticed. Well, too bad… because I will always take their filth and turn it into something good. That’s what we are supposed to do with manure, isn’t it? Besides, my words are a gift for those who want them. Those who don’t can move on and never look my way.

      Many hugs, my sweet Victoria. I can’t quite see the moon tonight–it’s really overcast (I just heard some thunder!). But I can feel our Lady through the gloom and she’s glorious and luscious and full of giving.

      • That last line you a poetic spell..”I can feel our Lady through the gloom and she’s glorious and luscious and full of giving”.. wowness…such potent visuals dancing through my head !

        I love what you shared about the last 5 years and what it has brought you…SO beautiful. I totally agree/understand..yes, yes.
        deep hugs

  4. Firstly, bloody good piece. Sadly I’ve known too many who made similar presumptions.

    Secondly, yeah…boundaries. I kind of suck with those. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I realize my current life does have an expiration date, and I don’t care to have my time usurped by things that don’t add to my life. LOL, I really should come up with a plan for how to deal with that.

    • Sounds like the perfect time to start setting some boundaries…starting a new adventure in your life allows boundaries to move more easily, so what used to be ok with you may no longer work to your benefit. Others often find it easier to accept a boundary change when they can see a physical change in your life…go for it big style! XXX

  5. Prioritizing was hard for me, because I did it before I fully realized that’s what i was doing, and I’d beat myself up over it. I’d feel guilty for not ever calling someone back or for not going to that group’s meetings or reviewing some documents at work I kind of meant to review.

    I don’t anymore because at a certain point I realized that if I was always “too busy” or “forgetting,” then it wasn’t a priority.

  6. I’m really bad at setting boundaries and/or sticking to them. I don’t really have many people in my life anymore, but a few of the ones I do really require stricter boundaries. I need to work on that.

  7. Oh I used to be one of those who cannot set boundaries. I would always take on anything someone asked of me even if I knew I didnt really want to….(must be a flaw in my personality to even consider such) then I would fuss and fume (at myself) because I REALLY didnt want to, then I would say NEVER AGAIN, then I would….you guessed it….do it again. But that was then and this is now. Now, I, well, um, (cough cough ahem), now I….well….Let me just go over in the corner and twitch.

    Love that “twinkling twit”.

    • I think the slight twitching never goes away, especially when it comes to the requests of certain people. But that’s a good things… the alternative would probably mean that we’ve been robbed of our humanity. And we sort of like the whole being human thing. 😀

  8. I love this topic, and am loving everyone’s comments so far. It’s so hard, especially for people who were raised as women to be polite and to try hard to please others, to set boundaries. It’s also hard in today’s climate where to stay silent in the face of atrocity is often taken as implied consent – as the Jewish rule goes “shtikah k’haskamah,” silence is akin to agreement. Which is such obvious nonsense. Kicking up a storm on social media is not the same thing as actually doing something to change a situation, and keeping silent on social media in order to protect one’s sanity and avoid trolls is not the same thing as supporting the atrocities.

    In my tiny corner of the world, in medieval studies, there’s now a fight going on, and I have spoken up against the stupidities and racism of those who want to maintain the “traditions” of the field and avoid any self-critique of how we as scholars over the past few hundred years have crafted a narrative about the Middle Ages that very often gives white supremacists their material for their heinous ideas about white supremacy. But when my vocal social media posts caught the attention of some people, I locked down my social media accounts – made all my Facebook posts private, changed my Twitter account to private, and stopped commenting on any and all public Facebook posts about the controversy. As I said to someone while discussing the situation: I’m willing to risk not being hired by certain universities if I am outspoken about injustice, but I am not willing to risk my mental and emotional health by having trolls directed to harass me (as has happened to many others in this ridiculous saga so far).

    That’s not to say I’m not engaging in the fight (because it is a fight for the future of the field). I am – but by being more active in my “home ground” of my own university’s grad student association, and by creating networks of friends who support each other through this crisis and can talk and strategize in private conversations rather than publicly. My new rule in this arena: take constructive action, not destructive action. Ie, stay quiet and do as much as possible to *build up* opportunities to fight racism, rather than being loud and vocal *against* the racism.

    I had created two French-language blackouts over the last couple of days, and they were perfect for this prompt. So I wrote some English verse to accompany them, and here’s the whole thing:

    • I think that any remedy/coping mechanism that ends up bringing more anxiety into our lives should probably be replaced soonest. If not we end up fighting the ailment and the cure. No one needs that.

      I love your new rule. I love it so much.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more Dainy…trial by Social media seems to be coming the norm, and sensible conversation and discussion got thrown overboard (was going to say jumped ship, but I don’t believe it was voluntary) a long time ago. Like you I now avoid commenting publicly, but because I can’t resist baiting trolls and it upsets family XXX

  9. I’ve learned the value of boundaries. I want to enjoy my crazy and not be driven there by someone else’s. Goodness, creativity takes many outlets. Not everyone will like what I do. or how it changes. Lately I have been all about exploring my dark side through writing and it isn’t the favorite of some I know, but I find it therapeutic. Shoot, I have different blogs for several of my personalities. (cackles)

    I love your poem, every word of it. I say let the energy vampires go feed on themselves.

    Here is my contribution:

    • We lose so much when we allow other people to drive our crazy. If we let them, they soon will be stealing our sane, too.

      I always find it strange when people back out when they see the dark, as if pretending that it doesn’t exist will make it go away.

      Different blogs for different personalities. Now THAT’s what I call organization and dedication. 😀

  10. An insightful write, Magaly! I love how you refer to them as energy vampires- an apt description. Good for you!…. otherwise, they feed on you until only a husk remains.
    There’s power in your poem… beautifully done.

  11. Damn, good piece of writing. I echo that. It’s mind boggling lengths ‘energy vampires’ could go to. Internet is full of them, and they flourish on the blogs but I cut, cut merciless.

    Setting boundaries, where family relations are concerned can be hard. But as I grow older, I find I’m using my most empowering word “NO” more often, and don’t care much about other people’s opinions of me.

    I love this Trinket & Armor project of yours. Love, love your poem, too. Pity, I missed your call for participation. But then again, I’m mostly unproductive in summer when it comes to writing. So, I’m happy to read others. Keep writing!

  12. I like this topic and it’s always been tricky for me. But now it is especially tricksy. It is the most recent post on my blog. I think healthy boundaries are something we all struggle with.
    And there is a lot to be said for simplicity. It’s direct. Honest. Trustworthy. So the buffoons that call your writing anything other than brilliant are not your people. You are wise to write them off.

    • People will be people. And most of what comes out of their mouths speaks more of themselves than of the people they are referring to. If uttering that sort of tripe makes them happy, more power to them. We all should fight for our happy. 🙂

  13. I agree about energy vampires, Magaly, and your poem sums up perfectly the damage they can do, particularly the phrase: ‘the broken spine of usurped energy’. You’ve woven a strong charm to keep those vampires at bay. I love the lines:
    ‘a witch in touch
    with the Nature who made her
    would never pretend…

    or believe a rogue made of her magic
    could shoot arrows through my blood’.

  14. Oh I have never struggled with setting boundaries, even as a painfully shy little girl I never hesitated to “put space” between myself and anyone I considered toxic to me *now I’m wondering if I wasn’t shy at all and that “shy” was just how adults chose to interpret my boundary setting?*
    I too feel physically ill when encountering “nasty/mardy/nit-picky” attitude(usually politically driven), so I guess I have a few “friends” that are feeling abandoned by me, but like all other aspects of social life we have to remember to set boundaries for ourselves as well as others. They can’t expect to mouth-off continuously and not have people turn away. We are all different and I love that, but if we want to keep diversity we have to accept “boundaries” in our behaviour in the presence of others, and not just set boundaries for them. I find a lot of the time these moments where someone “over-steps the line”, offence/stress is caused because “assumptions” have been made by one side or the other. So I try my best to no longer assume any of my friends/family think/feel/believe the exact same things as I do, and I only share info when directly asked. If they don’t like my answer that is for them to deal with. They can have their own opinions, it is not for me to judge them nor them to judge me. AND it is possible to be friends with people of differing political persuasions, Hubby and I almost always vote differently…Hubby believes in rehabilitation while I believe I am entitled to beat the crap out of anyone who invades my home…everyone we meet assumes he is the dark broody Misogynist and I’m the sweet little mumsy wifey (couldn’t be more wrong), yet we have lived and loved together,more than happily, for over 36 years. How? by respecting each others boundaries from day one, and not trying to re-write them for each other.*and I have his permission to tell you lol*
    Wow that as long, hope I didn’t wander off the theme XXX

    • The idea of you as a “sweet little mumsy wifey” made roar. I’m still laughing.

      I’m totally with you. Well, you already knew that. I have never have problems walking away from things that aren’t good for me. But goodness, I’ve seen so many people I like (some I even love) not been able to get out of a situation that is killing them slowly… And like you suggest, we can’t expect people to think like us, regardless of how much we want them to. We can only find middle grounds where to exist with them and love them. If that’s not possible, then goodbye is best.

  15. Setting those boundaries and prioritizing things that are good for us, instead of getting roped in harmful and deprecating circles is a great lesson. It’s perhaps why I don’t mingle well with many people – the negativity can be such a pain in the ass.

    I really enjoyed your write – shooting arrows through the blood – that’s intriguing and oddly evocative.

    • I don’t mingle much either. It seems that these days (or, perhaps, always), mingling involves putting up with a lot of nonsense in the name of making nice. I refuse to make nice when everything supporting the nicety is rotten. That seems like a waste of everyone’s time.

      Thank you for your words on my poem, we do like “odd” around here. 🙂

  16. I couldn’t agree with you more about setting boundaries. I like your three pieces of wisdom shared in that area; and yes, there is the importance of prioritization in the blogosphere, as in all other spheres. I used to write more poetry (and in different sites as well) and religiously comment every poem…. Finally I noticed that some people never EVER commented on my poetry so I stopped reading theirs as well. My time is valuable too. And if they NEVER care about what I write, well……I do have other things to do. I do have to begin setting some more boundaries when it comes to social media….just keeping the flow of bad news off. It is so hard when ALL seems to be energy draining & filled with energy vampires waiting to suck a bit more. You are a wise woman, Magaly. Continue to share your ideas. You have a lot to give.

    • When we waste our time on people who couldn’t care less about our words, we take that time away from those who do. That seems silly to me. And like you, I also have other things to do… other people to read.

      Boundaries on social media keeps me sane these days. There are friends I really like, but I can’t stomach the way they approach social and political issues. When their opinions get too rabid, I take a step back. The alternative would probably involve something ugly no one wants.

      Thank you for reminding me that it’s good to share, Mary. I’ve had this wee project in my mind for a long time. Not so much because I believe myself wise, but because I think that as a group we can truly add to each other’s wisdom, to each other’s ability (and willingness) to find a center in this world of broken edges.

      • Yes, I have been more good about using MY time and not wasting it on others who are only looking for comments on theirs and give not even a glance in return. As far as social media goes, I think on FB I have relieved myself of all of the ‘friends’ whose opinions I can no longer empathize with. I think that this whole political thing has been hard on friendships. I used to be able to have friends of all political beliefs, but now I find it near impossible. I know what you mean about ‘something ugly.’ That is what caused me to take a permanent step back. Sad really. But it is better for me (and perhaps the others) that way. Yes, as a group, with your discussions here, we can add to each other’s wisdom. I really like the openness that you have and the openness you have promoted. Have a good week, Magaly.

  17. I’m really dismayed by some of those negative comments that you have received! What is wrong with people?!

    I can’t get “twinkling twit” out of my head! Utter perfection! 😀

    I am an introvert, not shy, an introvert. I need time to myself to recharge. I’m not at all good at saying, “Enough!”, or setting limits. Instead I just try and avoid people, hiding away like a hermit when I need to. I have had a dreadful energy vampire in my life and was very nearly sucked dry. I did eventually say, “Enough!” I’m so glad I did, but there was a price, and others were affected too. Life is a complicated beast! But, yes! We need boundaries!

    • The day we figure out what’s wrong with people, we’ll be rich! 😀

      And I’m so glad that I’m not the only one covered in the glitter of the “twinkling twit” phrase. It’s sticky, lol!

      Sometime, saying “Enough!” involves losing more than the one sucking all our energy. But at the end of the day, as you probably know by now, it is the only way. “Life is a complicated beast”, indeed…

  18. Like LGH (above) I am an introvert, a very happy one.
    Across my lifetime I have gently shed so-called friends who proved not to be. My happiness sets my boundaries and I won’t allow others to take my happiness from me, involve me in their schemes and stupid malicious gossip – I am just not interested. Sometimes I don’t understand how people think as they do, act as they do – but I accept that others might think the same of me.
    We definitely need boundaries Magaly – and I am glad you have set yours too.
    Anna :o] xxx

    • I’m right with you, accepting that no one can learn with someone else’s head is a great relief. And understanding that if their thoughts tries to steal our happiness, then they will find themselves thinking really far away from us, is almost peaceful.

      Boundaries are good… for everyone involved… even if some don’t see it… right away.

  19. I don’t say I enjoy my damaged spine and a stupid nervous system gone crazy as I probably made it worse by playing sport and falling over years ago, but to know that someone as young as you suffers hurts me too. I am fed up with operations that don’t deliver and drugs that make me feel worse rather than better. However you Magaly are writing up a storm with a style all your own and hopefully this alone makes you feel good.

    • I’m smiling at your opening sentence. Mostly because there is a lady in a neuropathy group I attend every now and again, who once told me, “I wish I could be as happy as you are about being sick.” I burst into laughter. And she looked at me like I had gone mad. After I was done roaring, I explain to her that I doubt anyone (me included) could be happy about being sick, that makes no sense. But we can’t let a disease (or 5) steal our lives.

      You know, you are not the only one of my older friends who feels terrible about the fact that I had to start dealing with these issues so young. But you know what? I say to you what I say to them, “By the time I’m your age I will be at expert at kicking pain’s butt.” There is always a bit of light to be found.

      And yes, writing is my meditation, my balm, my go-to remedy when nothing else works. It makes me feel good and then some. 🙂

  20. SIGH.. my dearest Magaly let us not fret upon such nonsense that these people love to brew as a daily rountine in their lives. This subject is very close to my heart so let me begin by saying:

    Thou shall not dim my inner-most light energy vampires!

    Haha 💖 I have a simple rule when it comes to boundaries. I no longer have energy to deal with people who are negative and seem to thrive on sipping hope out of other people’s lives. Being brutally straight forward as I am 😉 I tend to extinguish their fiery attitude with the brightest of smiles.

    Let’s face it.. nobody can feed on us if we don’t let them. I LOVE the opening line of your poem!😍 It perfectly describes the feeling you get when you know you have had enough. There is magic in standing up for ourselves and in putting our health and interests first. Gorgeously penned. 💖

    Happy Sunday to you and yours 💞☕

  21. Saddest person, who doesn’t respect your boundaries, is a family member that tries to control your life. My moving to Toronto from Brampton, Ontario broke this. Truthfully, having this person out of my life, has reduced my overall level of anxiety/panic attacks.

    • Having to keep a close relative from controlling us might be one of the most difficult things yet. It would be all right if kicking them out of our lives involved getting rid of them only. But we both know that this is not the truth, saying “Enough!” to a family member creates a chain reaction. We lose a lot of good with the bad, but… sometimes (most times) it must be done anyway.

      I am glad you found a way to reduce the overall horridness.

  22. I’m back to leave another comment!

    Yesterday I had a chat with a friend about boundaries, about prioritizing ourselves. We were both raised Jewish, and we were talking about how we constantly got the message (that others also get) that focusing on our own needs is “selfish,” and that being selfish is a bad thing. One of the things that was most celebrated about me (by my parents, by my school, by my community leaders, etc) was my selflessness and willingness to give to others, to go “above and beyond” etc. Of course, I was also called self-centered by my mother whenever I tried to carve out some space for myself.

    It’s taken me years and years to get to the place I am now, where I’m okay with setting boundaries, I’m okay with seeing myself as selfish and putting myself first. In some ways, I’ve had to use a psychological workaround – if I give and give and give of myself now, I’ll be all used up and won’t be able to give later. But if I take time for myself and ration my resources, I’ll be much better able to give later.

    And when it comes to cutting out toxic people – the first time I blocked someone on Facebook, I was crying. It felt so horrible, like I was a horrible person. I’ve had people say to me, about friendships and relationships I’ve cut off (like with my mother, who I no longer speak to, or my older brother who abused me when I was a child and refuses to take responsibility for it), “well, you’re the one who chose to end the relationship, you’re the one who chose to stop working on it, you’re the one who ended it.” But the thing is – while that’s technically true, the people who did things to me, who hurt me so terribly, or who continue to insist that the relationship be built on their terms – they’re the ones who *effectively* ended the relationship.

    I had a friend who I was very close to, but she always called me when she was having a horrific time dealing with PTSD from having been subjected to bondage porn by her father when she was a pre-teen, and when she was dealing with troubles in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community she had chosen to live in. I told her often that listening to her troubles with the community I had chosen to leave was in fact very difficult for me, but she wouldn’t listen to me. And when I tried to talk about my experiences in *my* new world, she would shut down conversation because she felt uncomfortable with my “sinful” lifestyle. So I cut her off. And she was very hurt, and didn’t understand why *I* was choosing to end such a “wonderful” friendship.

    Now, when I block people on Facebook, I feel powerful. It’s *my* life. Obviously I don’t *want* to hurt people along the way, but if people hurt me, I have no obligation to give them second and third chances.

    • Having to say “No” to someone we know needs our help is very difficult. But we both know that we often have to. Yes, it’s terrible that they are going through such a difficult time, but if helping them involves the sacrifice of our own sanity, well… that’s something we need to think about very, very, very carefully.

      Your last paragraph is truth that would make so many people’s lives easier… if they only understood the need to protect themselves, their obligation to their own tranquility.

  23. I’m so grateful for the fact that those type of “friends” has been far from me… (and I hope I’m never such a person either)

    • I, too, hope I’m never such a person. If I’m ever her (and you notice), do point it out to me. And if I pretend that is not happening, call the Men in Black and run… since I was probably body-jacked (I’ve never been good at pretending).

  24. Setting boundaries…still a bit of a challenge for me as someone who has always struggled with being “too nice”. But I am improving! I so enjoy your writing.

  25. “. . . .fancied glitter could glamour
    the broken spine of usurped energy”

    O, these ones are the first to go when lightening the load of incoming and outgoing. I have hated boundaries in my youth–loving flow–and then I became someone and boundaries claimed me quite naturally. And then I became political and forgot much of who I was. And then earth/body bent me over so I had to hear what God was saying and learn to love my boundaries. Within them, energy flows. And the room that is my own has lots of windows and doors. Boundaries are restful. Neighbors with their own boundaries create peace. (How this relates to immigrants? I do not know.)

    • Immigration was not in my mind when I thought of this, but I can see exactly how the setting of boundaries could be applied to the issue. With a country, as with our own selves, we do our best to keep out that which harms us, that which we can’t beneficially incorporate into our living, that which we can’t help without the thing (or person) destroying us in the process. It’s survival. However, when we start pushing everything out, just because we have become paranoid and blind to the point of inhumanity, then things start to go wrong–our boundaries become our prisons. And not just a prison, but a drainer of our humanity… In the end, we might have all the space/energy/resources we want to keep from others, but our souls are damaged, empty, ugly… and are too far gone for happiness (even contentment) to ever find us.

  26. I’ve never been good at boundaries, other than shutting people out, but I’m learning to say “no” more easily without the guilt. As for shutting people out, I’m a natural; it’s a skill I was apparently born with, or developed as a young child. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse.

    • I think being able to shut people out is both, a blessing and a curse. I’m saying that because I think you and I are very similar in that way. If someone pushes me to the point where I reason that not having them in my life is the best, I kick them out. And that’s all right, we need to take care of us. The bad, for me, comes with the fact that regardless of what that person might do (or try to do) to redeem themselves in the future, I just can’t welcome them back. Not in the same way it used to be. I just can’t. And sometimes, that is not the best of feelings to carry around.

  27. This poem takes me straight back to the wonder of reading back when I was standing on shelves and picking books for the sake of their awesome covers.

    Boundaries… I find myself lately realizing I haven’t kept mine up. Other projects slip in, other priorities. This is a good reminder to reinforce them.

  28. The poem is BRILLIANT – made, even more so by some wonderful bursts of enthralling word-weaving.

    And – as well – I got totally into the accompanying narrative. When it comes to ‘character’, human beings do not all proceed in a manner that reflects the best that they can be. Indeed, many go forth into this world with an exalted sense of entitlement and a staggering lack of sensitivity towards others. Thus: boundaries are a must, if one is to have any hope of ‘hanging in there’ for the long haul.

    • The phrase “exalted sense of entitlement and a staggering lack of sensitivity” reads as if it needs its own poem. It would be a poem about resistance, about self-preservation, about baring one’s teeth in the face of nonsense that believes itself grand…

  29. at recognizing your limits,
    at remembering to say, “Enough!”
    (when you must) and moving on…?

    Setting boundaries to include certain friends only is a natural thing of attrition. One would not want to be bothered with irritants of time-wastage connections. Thoughtful thoughts Magaly!


  30. Yes, true witchery is healing, not destructive. You surely owe nothing to such people, but owe it to yourself to thrive in clearer energy without them.

    Your poem says it ever so much better!

    I’m sure I would enjoy participating in Trinkets and Armor – but, you know how it is. Priorities … time …

  31. It is always difficult for me to set boundaries. I tend to allow people to have as much access to me as they want. What saddens is that most people don’t seem to want to know me that well. Since pain is such a big part of who I am – perhaps, that is what sets those boundaries.

    In any case, it has taught me to tread lightly into other’s spaces.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Id’ love to be friends.
    Will you also know my pain?
    We’re a package deal.

    • To expect that someone who lives in pain every single day can have any sort of relationship where pain is ignored is not just insensitivity, but also ridiculous. I understand that some people can’t deal with some of the details–and that’s where comprise comes to play–but to be friends and never discuss something that is always there, well… that just can’t happen. A package deal, indeed. Even if every now and again, we must hold back some of the trimmings (in order to keep a friend or three from screaming in fright).

  32. These two prompts have been hard and very eye-opening for me. I have thought of little else since I read the first one. I want to thank everyone that has shared their stories, their solutions or lack of. I think art and writing are how I find myself, but I’m not sure I think I am truly found. I know lack of good boundaries is a way to fix this, but I have never been good at them. Or, I place them and they get bulldozed, or worse I voluntarily take them down. I am a people pleaser raised by two people pleasers who pretty much had no boundaries for their own protection. It was ingrained to hate conflict and to do whatever it took to bring that to an end. I used to joke that I could be a good hostage negotiator and then, I realized that I haven’t made any big breaks for my own freedom. I feel that any steps I have taken have come at great cost emotionally for me. Here is a piece I wrote for one of Magaly’s challenges. It explains me pretty well. Thank you all, again, for sharing. Thank you, Magaly for providing a safe place and your inspiration.

    • I think that when it comes to solutions on this issue, most of us are a work in progress. And if we forget that–that this is not a fixable thing, but something we must keep an eye on–then we can lose it a bit. At least, that is true for me. We can’t just set boundaries and think that they are going to work forever and for everyone. I don’t think that’s possible (without getting into dangerous extremes). Emotions always take a beating when we must say “Enough” to people we care about. Perhaps, what we need to do is to learn how to process each punch at a time without losing too much skin. And if we are very lucky, we can call a great friend to bounce ideas off, a good soul who can remind us that we can’t fix the world…

    • O my gods. A totally awesome reading
      for 3AM, in a darkened room whilst waiting for my 2:30 meds to deliver on their promise.

      Thank you, dearest Sharon.

  33. Unfortunately, I am terrible at setting boundaries. I’m pretty laid back and easy going in that I’m too tired to argue or fight, so I just let everyone else pick or do. It’s cost me and taken its toll. Especially with my in-laws living with us. They’ve kind of taken over our house and I didn’t have the energy to stop them. So now I have to fight to take it back. Now I have to draw boundaries with difficult people who do not listen and half the time do not care. But I have to, else all the joy in my life will be sucked away and stolen.

  34. You are brilliant Magaly! Great read my friend! This is what I have been doing this year. If I don’t want to go somewhere, I don’t. If I don’t want to be with someone, I don’t. I use to be a people pleaser, caring what people thought, not anymore! Not saying I’m a bitch, but I have to be me. You’ve got to step out of that old story! If not, things will always be the same and I don’t want them to be the same!
    And, to those people who were negative to you, they are just talking about themselves! It has nothing to do with you! People who are unhappy, like to spread unhappiness!!!
    Blessings Magaly! Big Hugs 🙂

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