I have a cartoon that sits over my desk. Clipped from somewhere long forgotten it shows a woman laying bricks and mortar in a doorway. Her husband and fat dog look on from the next room, from the other side of the half-made wall. The woman states she needs to establish boundaries. It’s a reminder to me for an obvious and a not-so-obvious reason. It starts with the obvious: a simple acronym: M.ind M.y O.wn B.usiness. MMOB. I have never been a fan of being in the know about people I don’t know. I’m simply not that kind of nosy. Nor, am I fan of those who are. The pretenders who think they are in the inner circle simply because they know how to read a tweet or check a status.
But, it ends with the personal, the not-so-obvious: B.e T.here W.hen A.sked. BTWA. Establishing boundaries also means accepting them.
My sister once told me It’s none of you’re business and I was offended. I thought blood gave me the right to butt. Butt in, butt heads. Anything but be quiet. I pulled her through guilt when she pushed me away. I pushed on her my care and concern when she pulled away. As she built a brick wall in the living room of our childhood I turned my back and waited for my chance to suffocate. Her. Me. Us. She sent boundaries and I vowed to break them. Lesson to be learned: you can bang your head against a brick wall for only so long.
So. Over time I started slipping notes under the wall. Dear You. It’s Me. I am Fine. Once a week missives. Once a week little reminders that I am still here. Behind the wall. I am patient. I no longer ask. No longer pry. I begin and end every letter the same: I am fine. As if to tell her I am fine not being in your inner circle. I am fine just being your sister. Week and after, letter after letter. Until one day:
Me: I thought maybe I would come visit.
Her reply: I would like that.
Boundaries – minding your own damn business. Setting and accepting. I’m fine with that.