I have taken a sage friend’s advice and decided to write about boundaries today. The topic itself is limitless but as I write just about human behaviour and quirks, I might as well deal with it, my way.
Boundary as defined by the dictionary is the greatest possible degree of something or the line or plane indicating the limit or extent of something.
I want to speak about the ambit of human giving, be it emotionally, physically, economically or spiritually.
We are all aware of Daanveer Karna from the epic Mahabharat. No one, as giving as him, has ever walked the face of Earth, it is believed. He never thought what it would cost him to give up what a seeker sought. His ability, of selflessly pleasing every demand made of him, is legendary. Those were simpler times, moreover such men exist in mythology. Drawing a parallel are the Indian women of years gone by. Steeped in customs and bound by social norms, they never thought of their own needs and being. Their lives revolved around the men in their families – fathers, brothers, husbands & sons.
It is not the same nowadays. Thankfully, it is not the same. God has created human beings to be equal and hence our emotional and psychological requirements remain the same no matter what gender we are born with. Today, more than any other time, we need to set our boundaries.
Anyone who has been in love knows that boundaries don’t generally apply to certain relationships. Won’t we do anything for our parents? If we are closely knit with our siblings, there is nothing we won’t do to take them out of a tight corner. Our lives are so entwined with those of our friends that we recognise it as our responsibility to give them anything in our power to make them feel better. Our partners, better halves & romantic interests get the best part of us. Anything that’s ours is theirs for the taking.
I feel committing wholeheartedly to any relationship is a very special thing and mostly we have our Rubicons or points of no return. We cannot go back to being what and how we were with somebody, once we cross that line. Once we reach that plane, our happiness and sorrow, our mood swings all depend on the person we are in love with. They basically have the remote control of our lives with them. If they are happy, we are elated. If they are down in the dumps, we keen over too or sometimes we try and pull them out of the pit they find themselves in. All in all, they become the centre of our very being. This situation isn’t fair to either party. There might be a thousand different things happening to us, requiring our attention but we always prioritise them over everything else. Everything takes a backseat when the axis of our lives is in doldrums.
We consider all this normal. That’s how families have always been. That’s how romantic relationships have fared through time. That’s how human beings show that they care. I am no different. This happens with each one of us.
Having agreed to all the above, I would reiterate the wisdom of many these days, that self-love is important too. The longest relationship we have had or are going to have is with our own selves. No one, absolutely no one can be with us from the start to the finish. All that stays with us is our own body, heart and soul. The least we can do for ourselves, then, is to pay attention. We cannot keep ignoring what pleases us, just in order to keep others happy, however close they might be. I know once we reach the point of no return, it is difficult to think of ourselves first, to peel our attentions from nurturing, caring and tending to others and look after ourselves. It may sound downright selfish too but we cannot pour from an empty cup.
Self care is important. Healing is important. To put ourself first, is important. It’s only when we are strong, decisive and whole that we can care for others. So boundaries are important. Setting boundaries don’t make us less compassionate. Infact if you feel miserable, depleted and used then that compassion is killing you. We can have compassion for others without actually losing ourselves in the process. Saying no, when you really want to say it, is all right. Saying ‘it is fine’ when it isn’t is not okay.
One has to draw a line, erect a wall, not to keep people out but to protect oneself from the blows. Blows that inevitably come when we love or interact with someone. Setbacks, quarrels, disagreements, different opinions, misunderstandings are all a part of this life. They may test one’s reserve, they may try one’s commitment but they rarely end a true relationship. These are just hiccups. But even while going through them one has to care for oneself. If there is less happiness and more compromise at the end of this trial phase then it is preferable to make your distance, lick your wounds and move on. We don’t have to tell the people we love that we care. We won’t have to try and make them believe that we do. They would know it and they would acknowledge it and reciprocate and that’s when we know that compromises are okay too if at the end we feel loved and recognised.