Boundaries: Moving toward Healthier Ones

The concept of having and maintaining proper boundaries in any and all relationships seems to be extremely important in relationship literature today. I have dealt with boundaries in 2 previous entries here (https://samruck2.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/helping-insiders-to-enjoy-appropriate-physical-affection/) and here (https://samruck2.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/boundaries-none-for-me-respecting-theirs/). I admit my concept of boundaries does not follow mainstream thinking when it comes to helping my girls heal from dissociative identity disorder. But just like Robert Frost’s poem, the path less traveled seems to have made all the difference in the healing journey for my girls.

In the beginning it was extremely important that I honor each girl’s boundaries without question so that each one would feel safe. But if the goal for each girl, and collectively my wife, is that she becomes normal and healthy, then it was important that I take each girl with their trauma-developed boundaries and move her toward more healthy boundaries appropriate for a woman in a marriage relationship that involves physical and emotional intimacy.

It’s important to realize that some of the various people in a d.i.d. network will want boundaries that will undermine any hope of having a healthy and intimate marriage relationship. Moreover, each insider’s boundaries may be driven by totally different safety needs. So if we are going to help them heal and develop healthier boundaries, the approach will have to be different for each person in the group.

I talked about my attempts to deal with Alley’s boundaries in a previous entry. Her boundaries for not wanting me to touch her were based on her hatred for me. Once I dealt with the reasons she had to hate and distrust me, she happily changed her boundaries and now she loves to snuggle with me and wanted to become my girlfriend.

But Tina is the latest girl to join my life. She made the move toward the outside this past January. And when she entered my life more fully, one of her boundaries was clearly that she wanted NO physical contact with anyone. Unlike Alley’s “no-touching boundary”, Tina’s boundary seems to be more motivated by fear. Any time she came out, if I had been holding the other girls, she would literally jump away from me. I always made sure to release her at the first sign she had joined me outside. I NEVER made her struggle or fight to get away from me even though it hurt deeply to be treated that way by one who is part of my wife. Sigh.

But though I honored her boundary, I took every opportunity I could to slowly move her toward a more-healthy boundary with me: one in which she feels safe having physical contact with me and even enjoys the safety that physical proximity with me affords her.

So when she was out and we were sitting together watching TV, I regularly reach over and touch her arm and caress it gently or stroke her hair with my fingers. Sometimes she would jump away, and I would immediately stop. But as she became more comfortable with my presence and touch, slowly she stopped moving away EVERY time.

For the last month Tina has participated in an individual, weekly date that I give each of the other girls to help me keep connected with each at this stage in the journey. During these dates with Tina we have worked our way thru the High School Musicals (1 & 2) and Camp Rock Musicals (1 & 2). She gets so deeply engrossed in these as we sing and sometimes dance together with their romantic themes that they help her “forget” her old boundaries and be more comfortable with greater physical contact with me.

Other times when she was sick gave me opportunities to wipe her forehead with a wet cloth. Or sometimes my wife is subject to leg cramps at night and slowly Tina began to feel comfortable asking me to carry her upstairs in my arms to bed like the other girls do. She also would allow me to gently kiss the back of her hand goodnight when I kiss the other girls. And we greet each other by touching the tips of our index fingers often. Each one of these little points of physical contact helped safely erode her old boundary of “no physical contact” as she realized that physical contact with me was safe, something she could control, and even desirable.

My goal for each of the girls who have not yet married me is to move them to a place in which they feel safe and comfortable with me in any kind of non-sexual, physical contact. I never touch them sexually, but all the girls other than Tina are comfortable with full-body contact when we snuggle or hug each other and Tina is definitely moving in that direction.

My hope is to one day marry each of these girls as my collective wife. So it’s extremely important that I help each girl move toward more healthy boundaries for an intimate relationship like marriage. I never force any girl to do something she is uncomfortable doing, but I “present” each with lots of opportunities to become comfortable with non-sexual physical intimacy with me.

Boundaries are all about keeping others out of certain areas of our lives. Marriage is about inviting someone else into intimate areas of our lives physically, emotionally and spiritually. So it’s extremely important as the spouse or partner to realize you have more ability to help them safely and gently move those trauma-forged boundaries toward ones more conducive to an intimate relationship than anyone else in their life.

Blessings,

Sam, I Am

7/2/15 Edit: I published this entry over 3 years ago. For any who do not follow this blog regularly, I wanted to update you about Tina. She has gone from NEVER wanting me to touch her to, now, ALWAYS wanting me to wrap her up in my arms and hold her TIGHTLY all day long. In fact she still tells me that ‘the best place’ in the world is safely and snuggly wrapped up in my arms. And that’s a much healthier boundary for a girl to have who is part of my wife!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jeffssong
    May 31, 2012 @ 13:10:49

    It sounds like a good approach, Sam. My wife and I have established signs for some ‘boundaries’ when it comes to things of a sexual nature. For the most part we are all for it – but there are times (sighing). “13” is one of ‘them’ that doesn’t like having sex; so is another and we – and the wife – have learned that when I sleep in the buff (our normal style – something the wife brought to the marriage; i never used to sleep in the nude) – then sex is ‘okay’ (though we may cop out or quit if things go wrong) – but if I wear my boxers to bed, then no sex tonight.

    I’m glad to see that you are able to ‘read’ and ‘see’ things so clearly and that your little girls are coming along. Despite what the “pro’s” may say I think for your and your wife you are on the right track.

    Reply

  2. Trackback: An Update on Jenny | Loving My DID Girl(s)

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