Energetic Boundaries 101

Some pretty mind blowing stuff went down for me in September that I’m only just beginning to articulate. I went to this rad women and kids communing with nature power weekend with Jo. We ate and sang and played and learned and gathered around the fire together. And once Jo got his bearings, and he and a friend were absorbed in scratching at the dirt with sticks, I took a class about energetic boundaries. Which is to say that for a couple of hours one morning, I sat in a circle of women on the ground near a big fallen tree I wish I knew the name of, and listened to this woman share her wisdom about the ways we habitually do and ideally can choose to create boundaries that protect or reveal ourselves.

I still don’t understand exactly what it was about that class that changed things for me, but it did.

Here’s the best I’ve got:

It helped me understand the fundamental way I align myself with other people. In short, I’ve got some pretty loosey goosey boundaries. And I always track the people around me. I take in what I think their needs and feelings are. I’m like an octopus with hyper extended tentacles, constantly scanning in all directions for what my people are feeling, thinking, wanting.


It. Is. Exhausting.

And obliterating. Cause where do my thoughts and needs and feelings come in, given the OCD tentacles? Well, dear reader, I’ll tell you. My needs and feelings are stifled at the bottom of the heap. They play second (or third or fourth) fiddle. Those suckers languish deep inside the proverbial haystack.

But somehow, in a circle of women sitting on the ground of a crisp fall morning, I gathered my tentacles in. I chose to create some boundaries. Now I look more like this.TentaclesIn

I deliberately chose to disengage with the endless stream of

Jo is happy and absorbed (sigh of relief) . Cal wants water and needs to put his pants on. Where are his pants? . That guy on the sidewalk seems really desperate . AJ is still mad at me after last night, but I don’t want to say I’m sorry . Jamie wishes I visited her more . Cybil called me three days ago and I haven’t gotten back to her . Ryan seems pissed, is it something I did? . This person wants . This person needs . This . Person . Feels . . .

Reeling in the tentacles made me lighter, buoyant even.

I started to float.

I could see and hear and feel things that hadn’t gotten in for a long time because there was so much noise and obstruction, and so little of my attention left over.

Here’s what I saw:

Everything is a game.

Every relationship, project, chore, obligation.

Some games have higher stakes than others, but at the core, there is a lightness, a playfulness in the atmosphere around all the heavy stuff.

The playfulness is this: in every game, you get to choose your move. Every time. And you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Then the other people get to choose their moves. Now it’s back to you. And the game plays on.

For years and years, I’ve gotten stuck trying to play other people’s moves for them, while my piece languishes in one damn square not very far from START.

That hyper focus outwards, on other people, has been crippling. It’s been deafening.

It has weighed me down, drowned me out, and left me listless on the couch because I’ve quite literally forgotten myself.

It was part of the reason for my post-partum depression with both kids–in that first year, rarely was I able to see and act on my own feelings and needs in the snow-storm of everyone else’s.

Well, I found my way out of that bullshit.

I have a new sense for where I end and everyone else begins.

And I wanna play.

For now, while I’m still learning these new moves, and how to keep my own needs and feelings at the core, I try to keep the tentacles for me. I use that super scanning empathetic power on myself first, because then I know the most key intelligence about the game: where I’m starting from. If I don’t know that, I can’t really play.

It’s game on, people.


11 thoughts on “Energetic Boundaries 101

  1. I’m about as far from being a mom…or dad…as one can be.
    I have known some pretty exhausted parents especially moms.

    Glad you have evaluated your role in all this mess we refer to as ‘life’.

    Regarding your new awareness, it seems that you have moved yourself from the ‘what can I do for you’ to the ‘I’ll let you know after I take care of myself’.

    It makes me reflect on the airline disaster instructions…..’put your mask on first then the children’.
    Neither mom nor dad are doing the kids any good by focusing on the potentially selfish needs of the child while sacrificing the parent’s own needs and care.
    Does that make any sense?

    Just came across this video. If I were a questioning parent I would rush out to my local bookstore to buy his book.
    Here is what he had to say in the very few minutes given on this morning show….


    The few kids I’m around seem to have designated their parent(s) to the back seat.
    Most of my local children are all being raised by single moms or single dads so the parents are completely worn out which seems to result in yelling and demanding.
    Never works well.
    Parents are far too exhausted to argue or negotiate with a child in a positive manner.

    When the kids come to play with me (few things are more wonderful than having a posse of under 8 years old knocking on my door asking if I can come out to play with them) they know that I’m in charge.
    None of their annoying behavior works on me.
    If anything my authority seems to be just a thing they accept.

    Sadly they can’t sit still long enough for me to read to them.
    I do give them ‘jobs’ in my garden.
    They love it.
    My kid friends are eating all types of veggies because they have a small vested interest in the growing and harvesting of the food. Their moms tell me the kids are now eating veggies that went untouched at home.

    It saddens me to hear parents asking kids questions they just aren’t mature enough to answer. Worse yet is asking the kid’s permission to buy certain foods or go certain places.
    They’re kids.
    They should be treated as such. They are not little adults.

    Maybe I have gone off base with this missive.
    I just want you to know that I am glad you have reevaluated your interactions with not just your family but all the external folks one comes across.

    Carry on,

  2. That’s awesome. I feel similar. Also, this: “For years and years, I’ve gotten stuck trying to play other people’s moves for them, while my piece languishes in one damn square not very far from START.”

    1. Such a good question, Ann. I think there was some magic involved for sure. I think it was also learning more about energetic boundaries and the archtypes in that class. I’ve also been reading a book that was quoted at the class and it’s fascinating, all about our energetic habits and how we can shift them: The Lover Within by Julie Henderson

  3. Resonates, as I’ve been with my family for over a week and realizing the ways in which I (and my brother, and my mom) constantly track everyone else’s movements and feel guilty for everything, whether it was our fault or not. It’s been a time for me to think about boundaries and expectations and taking care of myself while also being the empathetic person I still want to be. Hard work! xx

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