Egon Schiele, Death and Maiden, 1915
The way people traditionally write about boundaries has never been super helpful to me, since I don’t have a problem with what I’ll call Action-Oriented Boundaries—if someone asks me a favor and I don’t want to do it, I’ll say no. If someone yells at me I would immediately tell them stop, etc. But I realize now that I’ve long struggled with Emotional Boundaries—I haven’t always known where the other person stops and I begin. Which mostly results in me taking on too much responsibility for someone else’s actions. I think this is really common among people who feel a lot of agency—you want to be accountable, and you believe that your actions matter, and you sort of want to control everything. And then it becomes easy to believe things like “X is in a bad mood because of me, I have to fix it,” or “This relationship can be good, I just need to make a few changes,” and then you end up playing a game that’s not a fun game: it’s the Can-I-Be-Perfect-and-Make-Everything-Go-My-Way game. And it really sucks, because you are 1) not perfect, and 2) even if you were perfect you couldn’t control anything, because you are not omnipotent, okay? Anyway, I played this game for many years, and it’s always caused me lots of anxiety because duh.