A woman crouches down and draws a heart around herself with pink chalk.

Skin: Our Most Important Boundary

I've always struggled with boundaries for as long as I can remember. I never quite knew where I ended, and someone else began. I didn't even really understand the word until I got older and learned more.

I was a people pleaser

When I was younger, I was quite a people pleaser. On top of that, I struggled with co-dependency. I always chose relationships in which I had to feel "needed" for one reason or another. It was just another way of seeking external attention and validation for me. It took me many years to understand that I'm the only one who can give myself those things, and anything else is just a bonus.

The metaphor of our skin

Since our skin is the "boundary" separating us from the outside world, this makes a lot of sense to me. It's quite symbolic if you really think about it. Our skin is what filters everything from the environment. It is what protects us and keeps our internal organs and everything else safe, much like what a psychological boundary does in our relationships.

What is a boundary?

We can think of boundaries as invisible lines we draw with ourselves and others. They are kind of like the line in the sand, saying "no more." They determine what we are willing to accept and aren't, as well as what we are willing to tolerate from others. Boundaries tend to be different with every person and relationship in our life. Some may be drawn closer to us in order to protect us more and may be more rigid, while others may be more flexible and set farther away.

Setting boundaries

As human beings, we all have limits. We all have a threshold of how far we are able to or willing to go with other people. Boundaries are there to protect us - to let us know when someone might be doing more harm than good. Then, we can decide whether their presence in our lives and what they bring to it is worth sacrificing or changing our boundaries for.

Boundaries and my skin

I never really understood how important this was growing up, and that was another psychological and emotional aspect of my life that started to show up directly on my skin. It seemed the poorer my psychological and emotional boundaries were, the worse my skin was, as well. It was a complete mirror reflection, and fittingly so.

As I got older, I had to learn and am still learning how important drawing these boundaries are. As well as knowing my own place and where I stand, and knowing myself well enough to know what I am willing to accept from myself and others.

Protecting your energy

This way, I am able to protect my energy better. Then, I have energy for the things that matter, such as myself and my healing. Chronic fatigue is already such a real thing with TSW, eczema, and other health conditions, and we only have a finite amount of energy to give to others.

Healing requires a lot of energy, focus, attention, and commitment. We have to remember to protect our energy when needed so our body has the resources it needs to heal. This includes filling our own cups before giving any of our cups to another.

It isn't an act of selfishness; it is an act of self-care.

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