Implementing boundaries in your relationships

Boundaries are relatively new to me and definitely something I’m still working on. However, implementing boundaries and honouring them has without a doubt, changed my life. 

For the most part of my life, I’ve been a people pleaser. Someone who had a very uncomfortable need to be liked. I wanted to be everything for everyone and be everybody’s “go-to” friend or family member.  This led to me believing that my own worth was heavily tied up in pleasing others. I would pay special attention to the positive feedback I received for being “nice” and pleasing others and I derived almost all of my self-worth from putting the feelings and needs of other people well above my own. When I would neglect my own needs to help somebody, or do what somebody asked, or would give excessive emotional labour to someone, I would get a rush that I was ‘their person’ and that I was special to them. They came to me for help and that would almost make me smug! I must be a good person if they’ve chosen me to help them!! 

I would pour so much energy into being there for other people that at the end of the day, when I was left on my own, I was exhausted, mentally drained and had next to no relationship with myself. Then, in 2018, I found myself in a very dark place. My brain was telling me I was a disappointment, I was lazy, that I wasn’t good enough and that nobody actually benefitted from me being in their life. I thankfully got out of that mess and began a long journey of healing and unlearning some incredibly toxic behaviour patterns. Then one day whilst scrolling through Instagram I found a post about boundaries. This was genuinely the first time I’d ever heard about the idea of having personal boundaries with yourself and in relationships. I scoffed and continued reading to see what rubbish this person was spewing but the more I read, the more things made sense. I had zero boundaries. Not one. I never said no to people. I never put my physical or mental needs first. I would compromise my moral or beliefs to make others feel comfortable. And I apologised A LOT. An example of this is if friends wanted me to go out after work but I was too tired, I would still say yes in fear of them being upset with me. I’d much rather be tired than have upset my friends. And then if I ever did say no, it was followed by 1000 apologies.  

After I read that post I did some more research. I read up on boundaries for hours! I learnt that boundaries represent physical and emotional limits that you don’t want other people to cross. They help define your sense of self by separating your needs, desires, thoughts, and feelings from other people. I realised that it was no wonder I felt like I was lazy because all my energy was going into fixing family and friends’ problems, being in situations I didn’t like, going out too much when I didn’t want to and not caring for my basic needs. I sat down and wrote out things that didn’t make me feel good and then found ways to get it out of my life. This is the hard part, implementing them.  

Sitting down and telling somebody you have a new boundary that you hope they will respect can sometimes seem like an attack. Boundaries are often mistaken as putting limits on a relationship or someone being “difficult” or “too sensitive”. If you’ve allowed someone to come and sit with you in your place of work during your shift every week for a year and all of a sudden you ask them not to, then that may bring up some feelings of rejection. This is why it’s important to be direct with your boundaries and communicate them clearly. Say what you need, why you need it and what effect it could have on your relationship if this boundary is crossed. Expect resistance but don’t let it deter you. The only people who get upset about you having no boundaries are the ones who were benefitting from you having none. Someone who valued your feelings and cared for you wellbeing would respect that this is what you need to have a healthy relationship with them. If asking someone to respect your needs causes tension in your relationship, then that relationship was not benefitting you in the first place and is possibly one for the bin. 

Once I set some boundaries with family and friends, I started to realise just how many people took advantage of me being a people pleaser. As I mentioned before, I used to HATE being disliked (and still do to some extent) so I would do anything for anybody at any given point. This was UNHEALTHY. Now that I no longer do this or no longer keep quiet about things that upset me, I’m “difficult” or “dramatic” or have even been accused of losing love for certain people. That is simply not true. I still love these people but I love and respect myself more than to allow myself to be exhausted by the unhealthy methods I used to use to show love. Setting boundaries is GENEROUS. Boundaries teach others how to love us. Never feel guilty for saying no. Or for loving yourself enough to no longer accept what you used to. You disrespect yourself every time you say yes when you really mean no, or when you give in to something you don’t want to do, or when you compromise your own comfort to please others. If people respond poorly to your boundaries, then it’s time to show those people the door. They don’t respect you or your needs. Don’t allow yourself to be treated poorly just because you love them. Love yourself more! 

Types of boundaries: 

There are five different types of boundaries you should be focusing on; emotional, mental, physical, time/energy and material.  

Emotional boundaries are having limits around inappropriate topics, emotional dumping and you or others dismissing your emotions. If a certain topic upsets you, state that you don’t want to engage in a conversation about that. If a family member uses you for free emotional labour and you find that all your conversations with them are them venting at you or using you for free therapy, then implement a boundary that limits how often they can do this. 

Mental boundaries could be having the freedom to have your own thoughts, beliefs, values, and opinions. People have different opinions of things, whether that be in politics or in pizza toppings. Trying to persuade another person can turn into a shouting match or intimidation, allow yourself and others to have different opinions on things without getting angry at each other.  

Physical boundaries can be about touch (who, where, when) personal space and unwanted comments regarding appearance or sexuality. For me, I don’t like people touching my face. This is a massive invasion of my personal space for me and triggers emotions I don’t like. I have this boundary set for every single person I am close with, it is about me, not them. 

Boundaries with your time and energy are similar to emotional boundaries. These can be when people can or can’t contact you, how often people contact you and what about, lateness, favours and free labour. For example, if somebody is constantly late or cancelling plans then ask them to inform you in advance so you don’t waste your time. Or better yet, ask them to value your time as they do their own.  

Material boundaries are related to your possessions. When they can and can’t be used, how you’d like them to be treated. This can be as simple as taking your shoes off in somebody’s house.  

What boundaries sound like: 

“I respect that you disagree with my opinion, but don’t force your own onto me” 

“If you can’t speak to me without (shouting, calling me names), then I am going to end this conversation.” – Then end it. 

“Let me think about it and get back to you.” – Before committing, ask yourself if you have the time, support and energy to help out? If you do, great. If you don’t follow up with a decline. 

“I won’t be able to make it this time.” –  You don’t always need to give a reason. No is a complete sentence.  

“I can understand that you’re angry, but I won’t be shouted at.” –  Then leave this situation or end the phone call. 

“If you text me, I will text back at a time that works best for me.” – If someone in your life continues to incessantly text, or get angry with you if you don’t answer their text immediately, your boundary may have to be more direct.  “If you continue to disrespect what I have asked, I will block your number.” – Then follow through. 

“When hugging me please don’t touch my waist, it makes me uncomfortable”  

“I would appreciate you not bringing this up anymore.” 

“I am going to step away from this topic now. There is no more to discuss.” – If the person continues to try and argue the point, you don’t need to respond. 

Why they are important: 

Healthy boundaries are necessary components for self-care. Without boundaries, we feel depleted, taken advantage of, taken for granted, or intruded upon. Whether it’s in work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries may lead to resentment, hurt, anger and in my case, burnout. They help you practice autonomy and the process of creating and implementing boundaries helps you get to know yourself and your needs. Knowing what your mind and body calls for and demanding it is empowering! Only YOU know what you truly need and only YOU can ask for it. 

What they are not: 

Boundaries are not something that keeps people apart! Boundaries are teaching someone how to love you. How you wanted to be treated, what’s okay and what’s not. It’s a free guide to love you in the right way! That should only bring you closer together, right? Boundaries create a healthy separation between you and the people around you. They give you the freedom to have you own privacy, personal space, your own thoughts, needs opinions and ideas! They allow you to have the comfort to be yourself rather than an extension of someone else or who someone else wants you to be. They help us become able to live for ourselves, rather than through this desire to please other people. 
Boundaries are NOT to control others. This is a common misconception! They are here for your own wellbeing and to protect you from being mistreated.  

Things to remember when setting boundaries: 

It’s an ongoing conversation. What you’re comfortable with today might not be something you’re comfortable with tomorrow. Try and communicate in the best way you can! 
Some people will dislike you setting boundaries and that’s okay! They’re showing you that they were in your life for all the wrong reasons and that it’s time for that relationship to end.  
Setting boundaries and honouring that can be HARD. So, start small. At some point, you may feel guilty or nasty but persevere. Changing the dynamic or habits of a relationship can be uncomfortable, but if they love and respect you, they will ride the discomfort out.  

Since learning about boundaries and implementing them in my own relationships, my mental health has improved drastically. I have so much self-respect, I know myself better and the relationships I have with other people are stronger and more enjoyable.  Yes, I’ve lost a few loved ones on the way but it has been worth it for my own wellbeing. Figure out what you need. Being there for people and giving them what they want is great but you can’t pour from an empty cup. Look after yourself first. 

A Brief Timeline of Bi History

Please note that this is a brief history, and I will be going into detail about certain events at other times! So many bi folk I know struggle with internalised biphobia, and one bit of advice I always give is to learn your history! We often feel like bisexuality isn’t a real or valid sexuality because that’s what we’ve been told time and time again.

But we’ve always been here. We have history too.

Getting to know the history of bisexuality will make you feel more connected to your community and, in my experience, helps with ridding yourself of any internalised biphobia and accepting who you are! Enjoy babies.

Why is bi history month necessary?

The word bisexual was coined in 1892 by Charles Gilbert Chaddock. Before that, all wlw (women who love women) were categorised as lesbians. Because of this, bisexual women and lesbians share a lot of their history and, unfortunately, bisexuals are often forgotten about. In a lot of ancient history, same sex relationships between men are typically more recorded than same sex relationships between women. So if women aren’t mentioned sometimes, this is because it hasn’t been documented in literature and historical texts. I’m not just avoiding ’em. Promise.

Ancient Greece & Ancient Rome: The Greeks and Romans, unlike us, didn’t build identities on gender or categories such as heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. Instead, identities, social standing and power were based on the position you were in during sex; penetrating or penetrated. This was similar to top/bottom or dominant/submissive. For example, if a free man was to have sex with another man and took the role of the ‘submissive’, this may be frowned upon. Not because he is participating in gay sex but because he would be in the passive position, therefore the one with less power. This is atypical for a free man. Both societies were incredibly patriarchal so what was important was who did the penetrating and their age.

Did you know? Alexander the Great and Roman Emperor Hadrian both openly had wives and male lovers. The famous Zeus was also known to have a male lover, as well as lots of female lovers.

China & Japan: As someone who has lived in China, I can tell you that right now, China are not totally okay with people being gay. But it’s not always been that way… this is becoming a pattern isn’t it?

Chinese folk were tolerant of same sex relationships, assuming it didn’t get in the way of eventually marrying a woman and starting a family! So I guess you could say: gay sex = okay. Gay life= not so okay. However, there is evidence that Chinese emperors participated in same sex relationships outside of their marriages. Bit sneaky that. The Han records show that nearly every emperor that ruled during the Han Dynasty has same sex relationships. Very similar to the Greeks and Romans that followed!

Two Spirit Native Americans: There is some evidence that some Native Americans participated in both homosexual and heterosexual sex. These were called ‘Two Spirit’ people. ‘Two Spirit’ people were members of the tribe who took on both male and female roles and were considered sacred. Some even described them as a third gender.

1800s: England enforced an anti-sodomy law which made all acts of sodomy ILLEGAL. This was known as ‘The Buggery Act’. This law wasn’t changed in the UK until 1967! Just to put that into perspective for you: by the time that law was removed, The Beatles had already released EIGHT albums. David Bowie released his first album in the same year. In 1892, the word ‘bisexuality’ was coined by the American neurologist Charles Gilbert Chaddock (love u bro). He was translating Kraft-Ebing’s ‘Psychopathia Sexualis’, one of the first books about sexual pathology.

1900s: In 1973, homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder. This included bisexuality. Before this, it was seen as a mental illness and was treated with electric shock therapy, castration, hypnosis, medication, and plenty more horrific methods. This was a HUGE step for the Gay Rights Movement. Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, stated that bisexuality is a normal part of development and that everyone goes through it. He saw bisexuality as an androgynous combination of sexuality and gender. Freud believed that bisexuality was the base/ immature level of sexuality, which people would mature out of to become heterosexuals or homosexuals.

Dr Alfred Kinsey was an American biologist, professor of entomology and zoology, and sexologist. Kinsey developed the Kinsey Scale, a system of measurement which suggested that the majority of people were not exclusively heterosexually-behaving, or exclusively homosexually- behaving, but rather somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Kinsey presented bisexuality more as a system of behaviour, not necessarily linked to individual or social identities, but linked to acting on libido, circumstance, and attraction at particular points in time.

Some people still agree with this scale, however, some say that is is too static and the spectrum is far more diverse than this. That being said, his research showed that bisexuality was much more prevalent that anyone at the time thought.

The Stonewall Riots: This is history for our ENTIRE community, but I couldn’t not give it a mention. In 1970, thanks to a bisexual activist by the name of Brenda Howard, the first ever pride march was held to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. Brenda is known as the ‘Mother of Pride’ for her work in coordinating the march. Brenda, hun: we fucking love you.

1986: Lady Gaga was born.

1990: ‘The Bisexual Manifesto’ was published in ‘Anything That Moves’, the Bay Area Bisexual Network magazine. This manifesto still reads like it was written two hours ago. My fave part: “bisexuality is a whole, fluid identity. Do not assume that bisexuality is binary or duogamous in nature: that we have ‘two’ sides or that we must be involved simultaneously with both genders to be fulfilled human beings. In fact, don’t assume that there are only two genders”. The bisexual manifesto is something you will hear me and MANY other bisexuals quote often. For me, it perfectly addresses and sums up the biphobia we faced in 1990 and still face today.

The Bisexual Manifesto (1990)

We are tired of being analyzed, defined and represented by people other than ourselves, or worse yet, not considered at all. We are frustrated by the imposed isolation and invisibility that comes from being told or expected to choose either a homosexual or heterosexual identity.

Monosexuality is a heterosexist dictate used to oppress homosexuals and to negate the validity of bisexuality.

Bisexuality is a whole, fluid identity. Do not assume that bisexuality is binary or duogamous in nature: that we have “two” sides or that we must be involved simultaneously with both genders to be fulfilled human beings. In fact, don’t assume that there are only two genders. Do not mistake our fluidity for confusion, irresponsibility, or an inability to commit. Do not equate promiscuity, infidelity, or unsafe sexual behavior with bisexuality. Those are human traits that cross all sexual orientations. Nothing should be assumed about anyone’s sexuality, including your own.

We are angered by those who refuse to accept our existence; our issues; our contributions; our alliances; our voice. It is time for the bisexual voice to be heard.

1990: The oldest bisexuality organisation in the United States, BiNet USA, was founded in 1990. It was originally called the North American Bisexual Network (NAMBN), and had its first meeting at the first National Bisexual Conference in America. BiNet USA is an American national nonprofit bisexual community whose mission is to ‘facilitate the development of a cohesive network of bisexual communities, promote bisexual visibility and collect and distribute educational information regarding bisexuality’.

1997: THIS big queer was born!

1998: BiNet hosts the First National Institute on bisexuality and HIV/AIDS. In the same year, Michael Page designed the bi pride flag! Major news baby! He noticed the majority of bi people felt no connection to the rainbow pride flag, and wanted to create a flag with symbols all bi people could rally around. Wendy Curry, the president of BiNet USA: “we wanted to let the larger world know that we were here, we’re proud, and we demanded respect”.

2012: Kyrsten Sinema becomes the first ever openly bisexual senator! (Iconic or wa).

2015: Biphobia was added to the title of International Day Against Homophobia.

2018: The first ever bisexual pride happened in West Hollywood.

2020: Rachel Slawson was the first openly bi woman to compete to be Miss USA. (I wanna cook her breakfast).

Your body isn’t a bad word!

I had a long conversation yesterday with friends about our old teachers and it sparked a memory of my biology teacher saying to our class “scream the word penis and vagina, let’s get it out of our system so we can continue” so at the start of the lesson we all shouted out these “taboo” or “funny” words. Which is bizarre really, because they’re just words for our body… factually correct words for our body.
This teacher then continued the class using the correct anatomical words for genitalia and I thank them for that so much.
I never shy away from saying words like vulva or vagina or anus etc because fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself (I’d say what book that is from but she’s just outed herself as a TERF so :/ yikes). We say hand? Toes. Knees. So why can’t I call it what it is. My vulva. My breasts.
I think this starts from parents finding it uncomfortable to use these words with their children. Using pet names can seem easier in the moment but in the long run it can cause issues. Using names like “flower” or “pee pee” inadvertently teaches kids that their private parts are places we shouldn’t speak about. This could lead to self esteem issues or even keeping things to themselves if they are ever touched inappropriately. Similarly, teaching kids the correct anatomical names would help a child if they were to ever be sexually assaulted. Passing this information on to a professional is am lot easier when using correct terms and helps if and when things are taken to court. The correct terms also help when kids are going through puberty… explaining to children the changes that will happen to their body as puberty kicks in. The topic can be then discussed without making it into a joke or belittling its importance.
Calling it by a fake name is almost trying to hide what it is. When there is nothing to hide. The sooner people know that their body, specifically their genitals, are nothing to be ashamed of and that they can be spoken about. The sooner people will not only find comfort in who they are but be empowered by who they are. Sex and body positivity is empowering. So can we pls stop with “wee wee” and “cookie” ? You body isn’t a bad word!!!

SEX V. GENDER

There’s a lot more to being male, female or any gender than the sex assigned at birth. Your biological or assigned sex does not always tell the complete story. Sex and gender have historically been used interchangeably, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the same thing.

Sex:

Sex refers to biological differences between males and females, such as genitalia and genetic differences. When a person is born, they are given a sex based on their external genitalia. People with penises are assigned male at birth, while people with vaginas are assigned female.

Some also refer to chromosomes as markers of sex. Typically, but not always, peoples are born with either XX or XY chromosomes which determine their physical anatomy, and are assigned a sex based on these characteristics. Essentially, the methods used to assign sex are based on a person’s body, however assigned sex doesn’t always accurately determine gender identity.

You may also be familiar with the fact that some people are intersex, or have a difference of sexual development (DSD). DSD is used to describe chromosomes, anatomy or sex characteristics that can’t be categorised as exclusively male or female.

Gender:

Society has traditionally taught us that there are two genders: man and woman. We’re told that those who are assigned male at birth are men and those who are assigned female at birth are women. But gender isn’t an either/or scenario: it’s a spectrum.

Gender is seen as a more personal, internal perception of oneself, that cannot be limited to biological characteristics. There are plenty of women who have penises, men who have vaginas, and non-binary people with either genitalia. A person’s body and genitals are their own business.

In most parts of society, assigned sex is used to assume a person’s gender. Sometimes this is incorrect, and some people grow up feeling a disconnect between their assigned sex and their true gender.

Others identify as bigender, meaning that they identify as both men and women at varying points, or agender, meaning that they don’t identify as any gender. Many non-Western cultures have a long history of welcoming third gender, non gendered and transgender people in society. This includes the Two-Spirit folks from Indigenous American cultures and Hijra in South Asian cultures.

Gender Identity:

Your gender identity is how you feel inside and how you express those feelings. Clothing, appearance and behaviors can all be ways to express your gender identity. Most people feel that they’re either male or female. Some people feel like a masculine female, or a feminine male. Some people may feel neither male or female. These people may choose labels such as ‘gender-queer’, ‘gender variant’ or ‘gender fluid’. Your feelings of your gender identity begin as early as age 2 or 3.

Some people’s assigned sex and gender identity are pretty much the same, or in line with each other. These people are called cisgender.

It’s easy to confuse sex and gender. Just remember that sex is about biology, anatomy, and chromosomes. Gender is about society’s set of expectations, standards and characteristics about how men and women are supposed to act.

You can Fancy who you Like

Ignore your parents. Your peers. Your teachers. The TV. The media. You can fancy who you like. You don’t have to conform to heteronormative ideals. Coming to terms with your sexuality can be scary when all you’ve been taught is straight man marries straight woman and has straight babies. It’s okay to not conform to that. It might feel lonely at first but you’ll find your people!! The queer community is big and for the most part, incredibly welcoming!! Your people are out there. Come find us baby.
And to all the homophobes out there, get in the bin 🙂

Sex Positivity

Have sex with nobody. Have sex with everybody. The point is that it’s your right and your choice.
Why are we constantly judging people for either having too much sex or having too little sex???? How bizarre that people care how much other people are shagging. Let’s stop that pls 🙂

National underwear day 2020

It’s international underwear day baby! It was originally founded in 2003 by a company called freshpair to promote positive female body image!! And whilst that is boss, my take on the day is genderless. One of my favourite versions of Cassie is Cassie in underwear. I’m not really one to follow the gender binary and boxers have been something I’ve worn for a while now. They’re comfy, they make me feel like the dyke of my dreams and tbh with you, I think they’re hot. But I also find lingerie, thongs and stockings hot too. Unfortunately “Mens” underwear is designed to be more comfortable than women’s underwear. This is because women’s aren’t designed for comfort but are designed for beauty. What if I want to be comfortable AND hot? Even the “female boxers” aren’t comfortable, they’re tight and make me feel like I’m punishing my vulva and thighs. The same goes for men and enbys. What if they want to wear a red lace body suit? Does it have to be them dressing in “women’s clothes”? Or is it just them wearing what they want. Underwear should be for all. I’ve found so much empowerment (and comfort) from wearing boxers and it’s nice to not always be performing femininity like I used to. But I also find empowerment from whacking a corset and stockings on too. I do whatever the fuck makes me feel best, regardless of what I’m told my gender should do/wear. FUCK the gender binary. Underwear has NO gender. Wear whatever the fuck you want baby.

A brief note on boundaries

I’ve been working on my own personal boundaries so much over the last 6 months and my life and my mental and physical health has changed drastically from the day I started setting them. However, as beneficial as this has been it has also come with losing a few people I once held dear. Once I set some boundaries with family and friends, I started to realise just how many people took advantage of me being a people pleaser. I used to HATE being disliked (and still do to some extent) so would do anything for anybody at any given point. That shit was UNHEALTHY. Now that I no longer do this or no longer keep quiet about things that upset me, I’m “difficult” or “dramatic” or have even been accused of losing love for certain people. That is simply not true. I still love these people but I love and respect myself more than to allow myself to be exhausted by the unhealthy methods I used to use to show love. Setting boundaries is GENEROUS. Boundaries teach others how to love us. Never feel guilty for saying no. Or for loving yourself enough to no longer accept what you used to. You disrespect yourself every time you say yes when you really mean no, or when you give in to something you don’t want to do, or when you compromise your own comfort to please others. If people respond poorly to your boundaries, then it’s time to tell those people to fuck off. They don’t respect you or your needs. Don’t allow yourself to be treated poorly just because you love them. Love yourself more bitch!!

this is your sign bitch

hi, this is a sign that u really need to stop being so hard on yourself.
This is a picture of me in February 2019 in Thailand. I look at this picture now in 2020 have such mixed emotions. I had run away to China because I had major depression and couldn’t cope in England anymore and then in efforts to turn my life around I booked a solo trip to Thailand for Valentine’s Day. I thought I was failing at EVERYTHING. I felt like everybody hated me and I felt that my time on this earth was quickly coming to an end. That was fact for me, I knew it was over soon, there was no two ways about it. I distinctly remember looking at 40+ year olds and thinking “how on earth have they actually made it this far?” The fact I ever had that question makes me so upset now, but at the time it was one that would truly baffle me. What was it that made them keep going for so long? I honestly pitied them for sticking around for so long. I was being so hard on myself, punishing myself physically and mentally every single day. But now when I sit and think of all the events/things that made me ill and the things that I overcame, I get overwhelmed with pride. I never feel proud of myself but when I think of the absolute PIT I was in and the fact that I somehow managed to drag myself out of it, I truly do feel proud of myself. I wish I had someone telling me to go easy on myself at the time. To stop hating myself or to stop expecting so much of myself when so much was going on. Depression and trauma is SCARY and you don’t have to be confident and badass all the time and you don’t always have to have your shit together!! Stop being so nasty to yourself, you’re going through some rough shit and the last thing you need is to punish yourself.
I’m glad I took myself away to Thailand, it was one of my many turning points. I drove round an island and realised that moments like that were why people stuck around and I knew that I’d eventually be okay. And she was right bitch! I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole entire life and I’m nicer to myself every single day. Down days come and go but this time around I’m way easier on myself and have less harmful coping mechanisms! Yay for growth ay