"Wide open heart, big fucking fence."

The above is one of my favorite quotes of all time.   It’s by Danielle LaPorte, and it refers to the need for vulnerability, but also boundaries.   She told her child this to explain to him how best to navigate the world, and it's one of my favorite stories.  This quote was very close to my heart this week and I want to discuss it a little here.  I also hope to delve more deeply into the issue of boundaries in later posts, so please keep a look out for those if you enjoy this one!

I never learned about boundaries from my family, or my teachers, or anyone else growing up.   Maybe some of them tried to teach me, but I certainly didn’t learn anything, given what was being modeled.   Instead, I learned it through my favorite authors.  The quote from Danielle LaPorte is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll explain anyway.   You open your heart as wide as you can, to everything and everyone.   But you surround it with an enormous fucking fence of boundaries.   That way, your open, gentle, kind, sensitive heart is protected from those with negative intentions.   Cheryl Strayed, another favorite author of mine, has some really wonderful thoughts on boundaries.   She says that “Fucked-up people will try to tell you otherwise, but boundaries have nothing to do with whether you love someone or not.  They are not judgments, punishments, or betrayals.  They are a purely peaceable thing: the basic principles you identify for yourself that define the behaviors that you will tolerate from others, as well as the responses you will have to those behaviors.  Boundaries teach people how to treat you, and they teach you how to respect yourself.”   I cannot tell you how profoundly reading this and carrying it with me has affected my life.   

When either of these (the wide open heart part or the big fucking fence part) goes out of whack, so does my life.   Last week, the vulnerability and openness part came close to going out of whack, and I almost missed out on a huge opportunity because of it.   I caught myself, and opened my heart, and received.   This week I wasn’t so lucky.

This week the issue was with boundaries, but this one has been a long time coming.  Boundaries has been the bigger issue in my life, for sure.   I’ve never had much trouble opening my heart, to anyone or everyone.  Openness is not my issue.  But boundaries definitely are.   And I opened up, and made myself vulnerable, and I didn’t set boundaries early on in a situation where I definitely should have.   And it led to some pretty damn upsetting consequences that made my week upsetting and in fact my foreseeable future significantly more difficult than I had anticipated, both socially and practically.  

Here's what I learned from a problematic situation:

Get things in writing.   Even if you don’t think you could ever possibly need anything in writing.   Pay people for the work they’re doing in such a way that you feel comfortable with it and not like you’re being done any favors, so you don’t have any guilt internally.  Set boundaries with how you will be treated with the people you work with, and if those aren’t met, don’t work with those people.   And remember, at the end of the day, all you have is yourself, and you have to like that person.   I’m really grateful that I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I do. 

Today I starting rebuilding my fence.  I culled through my Facebook and I did some serious deleting.   I deleted everyone I couldn’t remember adding, that I haven’t ever had a conversation with (if I deleted you, and you really wanted to connect, sorry!   Message me and we'll chat!).   I removed myself from all the groups I’ve never engaged with or didn’t really want to be a part of.   I figure if someone really wants to connect with me, they’ll reach out again.  If I regret not being a part of the group, I can re-request.   But I also deleted people I’ve wanted to delete for ages, but felt too guilty removing because of some sort of history there, some sense of obligation.   Let me tell you all this right now:

You have no obligation.   Not to anyone.   Surround yourself with as much positivity as you can, and ruthlessly excise the rest.   Blame me.   Tell people I’m your coach and that I made you do it, I don’t give a fuck.   But seriously, get rid of all that negative energy.   It is the biggest weight off your shoulders, I swear.  Trust.

PS: The awful situation?   Turned out significantly less awful than it could have.   It might have had something to do with leaving my heart open.  And I’m still leaving it open.   But I’m still really fucking grateful to have that fence there.

 

 (via daniellelaporte.com)

(via daniellelaporte.com)