Boundaries in Friendship


A few days ago I blogged about the fear of aging.     A friend commented, privately via email, which I’ve attempted to post on that blog comments.   There followed a back and forth exchange of a few posts.   I was offended because I thought the criticism was harsh and felt that my friend was expecting me to ignore any negative feelings of the aging persons I was writing about and rather focus on positive ways to diminish those feelings and thoughts.    I write what I feel and think at the moment and at that time was very aware of the fear and dread of aging that many experience, yes, self included at times.  Her thinking is that acknowledging fear, sadness, etc.  supports and reinforces those feelings and therefore is not helpful.     For a variety of reasons for me it is important to first acknowledge feelings and thoughts, perhaps explore where they come from in my psyche and then do whatever inner work I need to do to find some peace with the experience.    I do not handle well criticism full of should and  ought as it tends to cause me to shut down communication.  I also do not experience myself as a spiritual guru or teacher.   My own spiritual work will take forever and I will leave that realm to those who have been “enlightened”.   

The boundaries for me in friendship are the acknowledgment of a “you” and “me” as separate beings, some values overlap, however, of more importance is the acceptance of those values that are different.      I experience a boundary when someone stands too close while talking to me; they are impinging on my space.   I want to talk at my own pace and rhythm, if the other person interrupts or their body language is sending a message of “non acceptance” then my thoughts are interrupted, the flow is interrupted and perhaps depending on how influenced I am by that person I will “shut down”.    I cannot be a “safe enemy” for a friend and allow them to spew their angry feelings on me.   I expect them to own their feelings, and  take responsibility for the  underlying sludge that erupts as sarcasm or harsh criticism.   My responsibility to my friends is to make sure they are aware of my boundaries.    Since they differ in all relationships all I can do is address them as I experience them.   

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