I was hosting a group of friends for the evening. As they arrived, one of them noticed my ukulele sitting against a wall. Without permission, he picked it up and started playing it. I smiled like it was okay because I was, after all, the host.
When I was a kid, I took piano lessons. When I was practicing and having trouble with a piece, my mother would often sit down next to me.
“Let me see,” she would say.
Then she would start struggling through the notes while I sat there watching and feeling … what … feeling what?
Therapists call these kinds of events boundary violations because they are acts of crossing a physical (picking up my uke) or psychological boundaries. My mother may have thought she was helping me but I didn’t see it that way. She was taking away my chance to make mistakes and learning on my own terms.
Yet the word boundary seems inadequate to describe the feeling that someone has reached inside me and taken something I didn’t mean for them to see or have access to. I have a right to keep you out if I want to.
I have a right to say “No, you can’t touch my ukulele, or take over my piano, or know what I am feeling or fearing or angry about this very moment. I have a right to myself.
And therein lies the rub.
I can’t get close to anyone without the risk of them touching what I don’t want them to touch, seeing what I don’t want them to see, knowing what I don’t want them to know, or even taking what I don’t want them to take.
When I am close to someone, they can reach inside me. It’s uncomfortable; it’s downright painful at times.
And it is also bliss.
Plain and Simple Advice
I wish I had some.