I don’t have good ones.  Or at least they aren’t solid or thick.  I’m permeable.  Subject to osmosis.

Ask me about movies I’ve seen.  The answer is likely to be no.  Let’s start with the famous movies…

Gravity?  Nope.

12 Years a Slave?  Nope.

Her?  Nope.

Shall we move on to TV?

Game of Thrones?  Stopped watching it.

Scandal?  Nope.

How about books?  Oh, never mind.  Let’s not.

My problem is that I get involved.  Deeply involved.  Obsessed.  When I was watching Veronica Mars, I’d get caught in these circular obsessions about who it was that showed up at her door after the season one cliff-hanger.  I’d dream about it.  Literally.  And wake up and I couldn’t stop obsessing.  GOT was headed the same way.  Frankly, I didn’t want to watch Ned die.  At all.  Even a little bit.  I need to know what’s going to happen next so I can manage my anxiety.  I need to be prepared.

This isn’t something I’m proud of, mind you.  I’m a straight up weirdo.  Normal people can watch shows on TV and not get subsumed.  Normal people can go to the movies and not participate emotionally in every single crisis.  Instead, I watch the Harry Potter cannon repeatedly.  Or Pride and Prejudice.  Or Persuasion.

There’s enough to be afraid of in my own life.  Enough tension, enough uncertainty.  I know how thin the line is between me and break down.  Once you’ve been at rock bottom, you never forget how small the distance is between you and it.  I don’t need people’s upheaval on TV.  I don’t need anyone else’s misery.  It isn’t fun.  Sad, stressed out, hurt people are not entertaining.  At least not for me.

And so I’m turning into my mother.

Which is weird, because I also write stories in which bad things happen and people get their hearts broken and characters die.   Hell, I even made myself cry writing about someone else crying.  There’s no explanation.  It sounds better when I say that I don’t participate much by way of entertainment because I’ve only got enough time and energy to consume or produce, and if I’ve got to pick between the two, I’m producing.  It’s plausible that way.  Another good explanation is that I don’t want anyone else’s stories in my head – there’s only enough room for my stories in there.

But the truth is that I don’t have good boundaries.  I get all sympathetic for the wrong guy.  Even the news has this effect on me.  There was a terrible accident not too long ago in which a mother got killed by a dump truck.  Everyone is worried about the kids, which seems like a reasonable response to events.  I’m feeling bad for the driver, who is probably a good person and his lack of attention for fifteen seconds is going to haunt him for the rest of his life.

Wait.  That sounds like a story…  Guy accidentally kills a woman and instead of moving on or haunting her house she crawls into the dump truck with him and now he’s got this relationship with the ghost of a woman he killed.

See?  It’s best if I limit the input.  All sorts of crazy things are likely to come out.


6 thoughts on “Boundaries

  1. I’ve been trying to explain why I don’t get into the things that everyone raves about and it’s so hard to get across that I feel like I’ll be completely overwhelmed by all the emotions but you’ve said it so well here that I’m planning to steal this. I am always a hair away from an emotional spiral (to the point where I’ve had to give up caffeine at the risk of going crazy) and my anxiety about needing to know what’s going to happen makes me so freaking uneasy when I have to live with not knowing.
    So thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone in this weirdness. No one else gets it.


  2. You have at least me and my mother to keep you company in this… I know lots of people don’t understand why it’s such a big deal for me, or even what I mean when I say “I just can’t get invested in that” when talking about popular, well-done programs like Game of Thrones. Losing myself like that to other people’s emotions… It just isn’t fun.

    Feel free to steal. And to walk out of the room when someone turns the TV on. And whatever else keeps you balanced. You aren’t weird, you just aren’t desensitized. I don’t think that’s a terrible thing.


  3. Straight Up Weirdo Entrope,
    Avoiding typical confinements or experiences preserves your boundlessness. I suppose it feels leaky that you may pick up some errant energy, but I’m far more impressed by the energy that holds you open. Stay vast . . . select boundaries as choices made in daily life. A lot of these may look or feel like protection and choosing  them makes sense for regular living. 

    This stuff that leaks in so easily, leaks right back out when you recognize the energy it rode in on, maybe you get attached for a stretch. You are making better and better choices even though you still get distracted occasionally. 

    I’m someone who drifts outta bounds by conforming poorly in the first place. The illusion of freedom is slippery at best, but it seems to be this delicate thing inside us that withstands tremendous forces when we let it. This “thin line” of breakdown waits for everyone. We come into the world shitting our pants and a lot of us go out this way. Those who get this great big luxurious stretch in the middle where things are peachy have some slender advantage I suppose, but generally I sense some low brittleness for people over-cushioned in stable boundaries. 

     I won’t comment on your next post because Whisper is basically perfect, but I will draw from it back to this discussion. You won’t / can’t settle for voyeurism / the experience of someone flat or in two dimensions. In a subtler way you are doing this for yourself. Your permeability has a fragility for both everything rushing into you and much, much more interestingly for you smiling out over everything. As much as you provide a landing pad for everything . . . everything is susceptible to you absorbing it. 🙂

    While most people are settling for prime time television you are ghosting into the cab of a dump truck or skating along the rim of a thimble in some forgotten corner of the universe. Keep reaching out beyond and around what most of us see, let your instincts decide what you process and what slips through you.  Most of all let go of the notion that the universe is holding some package of doom for you – yes several exist – but the universe trusts you to discover its more interesting angles and toss the junk mail.


  4. I think I may need to borrow some of your comments — with appropriate attribution, of course! You expressed exactly how I feel about so much that’s popular right now. thanks for that AR!


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