Boundaries are like magic. You know they exist because you can feel them. Like men who stand too close to you in elevators. Dude, we have this whole space. Two steps back.
I have a physical sensation now of flags on the play when something isn’t OK — when I feel encroached upon. I guess I always did, but in the old days, I didn’t take myself as seriously as I do now. I used to try to convince my brain that so-and-so didn’t intend to be inappropriate, it was just a misunderstanding. I don’t do that anymore. If I think you’re being inappropriate, then you fucking are; your intention is neither here nor there. The only question that remains afterward is, do I feel inclined to give you the opportunity to fix it, or am I done.
Younger me would have found this graceless. Hardhearted. Older me knows better. I don’t need to lay myself down on any train tracks. Neither does anyone else. There is no need to be freed at the last moment if we’re never in danger. And I’m not just talking about physical boundaries, I mean all of them. I mean the way that we’re taken advantage of about our work product, about our time, about our good will. If you are doing something reluctantly, that must be examined. Why? Why am I resisting this? What must I change to feel that I can participate willingly?
I was asked to take on some work for fellows who are in over their heads. Everything about the project alarmed me. Not least of which the assumption that I would accept. When I didn’t, the first shock-faced response was, “But we’ve already burned bridges over this.” Yes. Yes, indeed. And I have just kept myself out of the blaze.