Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The need for boundaries in our personal lives is often under appreciated.

While the need for boundaries seems apparent is some situations, {like with children} we adults sometimes forget we still need them too.

Without personal boundaries, we can find ourselves often times feeling bewildered and even under attack. We may experience feelings of powerlessness, disillusionment, fear, guilt, shame, anxiety and even panic. We are so lost inside our own heads, that life is passing us by. It passes us by, because we forget where our emotional fence line ended.

When we allow ourselves to be so engulfed with the emotional stuff in our minds that we forget where we begin and other people end, we are said to be suffering from enmeshment. Most often enmeshment occurs when one person is taking care of a substance abuser. However, enmeshment can occur in relationships that have nothing to do with substance abuse at all.

Many times people write asking me to give them advice on their personal relationships. After counseling hundreds of clients one on one, as well as answering questions on line, the one issue that seems to resonate within most committed relationships is "enmeshment".

Enmeshment goes hand in hand with co-dependency which in my opinion, is at the root of all dysfunctional relationships. While co-dependency is a broad term and one very misunderstood concept, once studied seriously it becomes like a ray of light on a dark, confused existence.

Boundaries help children feel loved. As adults it is our job to know where our own boundaries are so that we can always feel safe and loved. No one is going to knock us on our heads and say, "hey you, that's enough". It is our personal responsibility to ourselves to know when we have had enough in a relationship. Sometimes relationships need air. Sometimes people need to separate so that they can go back and find their selves again. Sometimes couples need to love each other enough to know the relationship is engulfing them both.

Personal boundaries are as unique as we are. What works for one person may not work for you, and that is okay. You must know who you are and convey that to the people in your life so that they know where you stand. If they love you, they will listen. If they are co-dependent, they will push you until you run past your yard and into theirs.