What is a boundary?
Your boundaries are a set of unwritten rules and guidelines that you live your life by and expect others to abide by as well. They are a reflection of what someone is and isn’t allowed to do to you without your consent. Boundaries allow you to vocalize when someone has acted inappropriately towards you and gives you the right to say so. Or having a rule that if someone has a problem they wish to discuss with you, it must be on neutral grounds and yelling is not permitted. Growing up in a home where absolutely no boundaries existed or acknowledged, you are thrown into the world not knowing that you are allowed to tell someone how they will act when they are around you so you will not be upset. Your boundaries are a form of self-care and show that you love yourself enough to say “No” when you need to, and expect the person to accept it without protest.
How do people bust them?
A boundary buster essentially, doesn’t care what you have to say or how you feel about something and lives life with no awareness of your personal rules and boundaries. My roommate, as much as I love her, is a boundary buster. She is manipulative and pushy. She reminds me of a nagging mother who knows best about everything I do. When she gives me unsolicited advice on how to do something, I tell her no and go about doing it the way I want to. You would think that would end the conversation but she persists and pushes me over the edge with more and more information on why she is right and indirectly tells me how stupid I am for thinking another way. She is busting my boundary BIG TIME. My no should be final, but she is convinced by her own false sense of arrogance that she knows best and has the right to force her opinions on me. As a child, I had absolutely no voice. When I told my brothers to stop picking on me what do you think they did? They multiplied the jokes and torments. When my dad was drunk and on a rampage about something that I did that pissed him off, he never listened to me when I told him to leave me alone because he was taking the ‘lecture’ too far.
So, what do we do about it?
It is important to remember the number one rule with boundary busters, especially the ones you may live with. YOU CANNOT CONTROL OR CHANGE THEM!! See how I put it in all caps that means it must be important. It is not your job to sit them down and explain to them exactly what they are doing wrong and how they should change. The only thing you can control is yourself and how you choose to react. Stating your feelings is a great way to do that because the boundary buster cannot argue your feelings. And when it comes to a roommate, odds are it is a temporary living arrangement and instead of spending your time pulling your hair out because the boundary buster makes you feel crazy, just state how it made you feel when that person did what they did and if that doesn’t work spend your time working at Starbucks and make your time with your boundary buster short and sweet. Now that I don’t live with an active alcoholic and I am a grown up, I know that I make the rules for how I will be treated and the importance of my voice. Do you feel like your voice is more of a suggestion or a final law? Keep in mind everything you say is important and should be respected!
Best of luck with your boundary buster,
PS. If you feel that your life is spinning out of control due to a boundary busting roommate, significant other, or friend, don’t feel ashamed to get help. I’ve been to multiple Al-Anon meetings for people effected by someone with substance or behavioral abuse and I’ve found a lot of freedom and strength in it.
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