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I love this whole post by Marianne Kirby about how to respond to random people who make your body their business, but in particular this one section seems to apply to so many situations in which I find myself:

Have you ever read "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost? I admit, it’s terribly cliché to love Frost’s work but I can’t help it. He’s right about life - "It goes on." And he’s right about plenty of other things, too. Including, "Something there is that doesn’t love a wall," which is the first line of "Mending Wall." I know what it is that doesn’t love that wall, too. It’s that we don’t want there to be barriers between us and other people. We don’t want to define boundaries because it feels, sometimes too much, like we’re already isolated in our human experience and creating boundaries further isolates us. If humans (though I know some extreme introverts who are exceptions) are generally seeking connection, defining boundaries ought to be the polar opposite of that.

But good fences make good neighbors. Whether it’s apple orchards and pine forests or FA and unwelcome body commentary, good fences that are respected and maintained strengthen our connections to each other. I will keep your fences in mind when we’re talking - I will do the work of being your friend because I care about you. Care enough about me as a person to respect my boundaries, too.

I'm still involved in the work of learning how to set those boundaries in relationships (with the kids and Dave and friends and even total strangers), though I've been perceiving it as an act of self-preservation. Marianne's post helps me to see that it can be an act of kindness, too, both to myself and others. I can respect myself by setting boundaries and I can respect you by recognizing yours. It's not "being mean." It's living compassion in a different sort of way.


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July 2017

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