Boundaries in Relationships: Space Invaders & Energy Vampires

Have you ever played the game Space Invaders? It came out in 1978, and as a small child I played it until I had blisters on my fingers. As a matter of fact, I still have a scar on one of my fingers! I was determined to shoot down the enemy if I couldn’t hide behind the walls that almost always got torn down. Of course, in video games, the game always wins. But in real life, we have the power to control what happens; it’s just a matter of learning how to use it.

One day it dawned on me that the aliens in the game Space Invaders are much like people who are space invaders. (Some people often refer to them as energy vampires.) They invade space and suck the good energy right out because they have no respect for other people’s needs or boundaries.

For instance, the friend that has endless relationship problems – you provide an ear to listen. A week or a month later, same friend, same problem. Six months later, a year, two years  – same friend, same problem. Her relationships literally make her ill, and listening to her somehow starts to make you feel ill as well. You’ve invested countless hours listening to her rant about her ex or about how everything in her life sucks. Now it’s your turn. You have an issue and need an ear just to hear you vent, and now your friend doesn’t have time for you. Not a friend at all; just an energy vampire. Healthy friendships are based on mutual listening skills; otherwise you are an unpaid therapist.

Sometimes space invaders are determined to selfishly grant their wants rather than someone else’s needs. A friend whose ex would not stop contacting her after she broke off the relationship, even after she ignored and warned him, got to the point of having to call authorities. Obviously, he had no self-control and zero respect for her needs and boundaries. She probably set these parameters at the very beginning of the relationship, translating his actions into flattery and “love”, instead of listening to her own needs and boundaries. Years after this began, she is finally done with him once and for all but has still had to deal with his stalking.

bound·a·ry
ˈbound(ə)rē
noun
plural noun: boundaries
1.
a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

A woman I used to be friends with would go out of her way to “help” people with all good intentions, but she does it without their permission and expected things to go her way. For example, she was trying to set her friend up on a blind date with some dude that turned out to be a dud (she invited them to the same party without informing the woman of her intentions). Instead of accepting that her friend had boundaries about dating and being set up with complete strangers without her knowledge, she got upset that she “went out of her way” and didn’t feel appreciated. What she did caused three people unneeded stress – her friend for the embarrassment and invasion of privacy, the dud(e) who was embarrassed after getting his hopes up, and herself because she had expectations for something she had no business sticking her nose into.

I once had a male friend (I’ll nickname him Orchid Guy) that I no longer speak to cross a boundary during the time I was newly separated from my ex. My plan was to check out the city where he lived, because there was a job coming up that I was applying for, and while I was there he was supposed to show me around. Prior to my arrival, he decided to make an itinerary of my entire trip, which included dinner and a cruise – something that I said hell no to, because I was maybe a month into being newly single and definitely not ready for a romantic evening with an old friend. It weirded me out, and I told him, and not only that – I was going to do my own thing, because I really needed alone time. Around the same time, he insisted on sending a package to me, but I felt uncomfortable about it, because technically, I was still married and living under the same roof as my ex. I told him to just wait until I visit, but Orchid Guy couldn’t control himself. He sent it to my job where I was teaching, which was also invasive, because it was a very small school and no one received personal packages there. The package contained a book that I would never be interested in reading, a lengthy handwritten card that sounded too mushy for what our friendship was, the first season of Game of Thrones, and a witch’s knot pendant (the only thing I kept). I thought what an odd bunch of things to send to me! I had to hide everything, because I didn’t want my ex to see it, and I really didn’t even want it in my house – period.

A few weeks later when I arrived at the B&B in his city, Orchid Guy had sent flowers to my room (mainly orchids). At that point, I flipped the fuck out. I thought it was extremely invasive, because this was a trip I was paying for myself, not to mention the emotional time I was having during my separation, but to have someone put flowers in my room just crossed the line for me. He thought he was making a nice gesture and being a “good guy,” but in reality he was well over all of my boundaries to the point that I didn’t feel the need to hang out with him whatsoever during my trip. I was super angry and felt violated.

Even after explaining to a space invader that they have crossed a line (or many lines), explaining that perhaps right now is not the time to continue a conversation, or explaining that right now we may not be feeling well enough to do what they would like us to do, they continue making excuses and finding ways to invade our space… if that person continues to disrespect your boundaries, it’s time to either set the boundaries or let them go. Space invaders will make us crazy and make us literally ill, because they are life-sucking vampires.

In the game Space Invaders, you get 3 “lives,” but in real life we only get one. However, we do have three choices as to how we handle these people: we can either continue allowing space invaders win and slowly kill us, place the boundaries today, or completely end the relationship by announcing: Game Over.

Making Name Changes

You may have noticed that I’ve made a few changes to the blog, including its name. There are a few reasons for this, the first being that I want the name change to reflect the current content I share. It took me a while to come up with something that wasn’t already taken but also relevant, so Free the Burden is it!

The second reason is when I created this site more than 10 years ago, my original intention was to use it to promote myself as an author using a pen name. I had chosen the first name of Susanna, the story in the Bible in which she was minding her own business when two perverted elders came along and spied on her while she was modestly bathing, then  blamed her for being beautiful and making them lustful and attempted to force her into having sex with them. When she refused, Susanna was accused of being promiscuous, which was a death sentence for an adulterer. Proclaiming she’d rather die than have sex with these jerks, she cried out, drawing attention to herself. Eventually, the lying pieces of shit elders are tried and found guilty, mainly because they couldn’t get their story straight –  and thanks to Daniel, Susanna is finally believed.

Susanna was the name I’d chosen because of being wrongfully accused of things, which was a common theme when I was growing up. I was accused of lying when I wasn’t, because I had a difficult time expressing myself verbally. I was accused of miscellaneous things just because of not being liked by both adults and peers. Even in my adulthood, I have been accused of some pretty bizarre things – but I don’t know what is more bizarre – the accusations themselves or the people making them.

Like many authors, I wanted a pen name in order to protect not only my identity and safety, but the identity and safety of my family and others that I’ve written about. Some family and friends and people that have known me for a majority of my life know my true identity behind this blog.

However, some people are complete dicks and think it’s okay to violate people’s privacy, even by going as far to do something illegal to gain information for their own selfish and sick purposes. It’s not a game to me, because some of the content I share with the public on this blog is extremely sensitive information that I wish to remain between myself and the reader, not the rest of the city and certainly not any of my exes unless I care to share it with them directly. To be “outed” by someone that I have never even met is akin to being emotionally raped or having your home burglarized, and that’s a really awful and indescribable feeling. Obviously, that person has severe issues and needs to do a lot of introspection, not to mention getting a life and keeping me out of it. I will be looking further into this matter and seeing what legal action I can take.

All Frogs and No Princes

Last night I noticed a frog in my bathroom. He was quite large, and it was getting late, so I left him alone figuring he’d find his way out eventually. Then I forgot about all about him. Around 2 a.m., I heard a knocking or thumping sound, checked to see if anyone was at my door. Nothing in sight, I went back to bed. This morning I heard another knocking at my back door, got up and saw it was the frog trying to make his way out. Later on, I noticed my bathroom mirror had little marks all over it, which were his tiny little footprints. I suppose that’s what I was hearing at 2 a.m.

Frog symbolism means a few things – particularly transformation, since it goes through different stages of metamorphosis. I suppose this resonates with me, body, mind and soul, because of currently going through all three of those changes.

I realize I need to take better care of my body, because I’m not getting any younger, and I don’t heal as quickly as I used to. Allergies have been worse over the years, so cutting out certain things is something I need to try to build up my immune system again. A few weeks ago I went to my doctor to discuss some changes that didn’t seem normal to me; however, she told me these things are normal as women age. I said, “So basically, women have nothing to look forward to in life?” – because that’s exactly how I felt. She said pretty much – we go through a series of changes throughout our lives and always seem to have issues. What the fuck.

Meditation has helped me in the past, but a problem I have is when the routine is disrupted. I started meditating regularly several years ago and not only did I notice a huge difference in how I felt, I manifested things that I never imagined possible. Then my life picked up and changed dramatically, and I had difficulty getting back into it. It probably didn’t help that my partner didn’t meditate or have any interest in my spirituality (at that point I realized we had nothing in common, which was spiritually draining). I started meditating again recently, but something interrupted my daily routine, and I stopped. I kick myself for doing this!

Spiritually, I feel that I’m changing again, and I’m aware that I need to make a lot of changes. When I was younger, I would set my mind to something and just go for it, no matter what. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I stopped having goals except for getting through each day and making rent each month, and my focus was completely off. I’m sure my health issues had a lot to do with that, but I think they’re manageable now, and keeping toxic assholes out of my life certainly helps! I pretty much gave up my dreams in life for various reasons, but now I’m ready to make things happen again. Perhaps I should make a vision board so I can better focus and meditate on what I have always dreamed of in life.

A last note on frogs – I am utterly bored out of my mind with online dating, like usual. I still have my POF profile, and since I was traveling recently, decided to change my location to see what options were out there. It seems like all frogs and no princes. I have no desire to converse with anyone that messages me, no profiles stick out for me, and organically, no one in my area interests me whatsoever. I suppose this is also part of my spiritual growth.

You’re Not Invited, So Mind Your Own Damn Business

Something I do is mind my own business, because that’s how I like to be treated. People have a habit of telling me their issues, but other than that, I don’t really care what others do as long as it doesn’t affect me. Living in a small town, people know your business – or think they know it – because that’s how small-minded places are. I experienced this when I lived on a small island years ago, and I have a feeling it has or may be happening again, thanks to jealous and/or gossiping bitches with boring lives (that will be an entirely new blog post).

On the island, there were people that loved to involve themselves in others’ lives that they truly knew nothing about, including mine – and it was all surface-level b.s. People see things and assume things and make it a topic of conversation amongst their shallow group of friends. How fucking pathetic. Some of the things that were assumed about me included being on drugs (no idea how that assumption developed) and sleeping with men that I never did anything with – and this was because after having been mugged one night, I’d always have someone walk me to my car. Just for that, it was assumed I went home with the guys! Fucking ridiculous! (And even if I had, it’s still no one’s business anyway.) The person that started that crap was one of my ex-husband’s best friends, but that was prior to me meeting him. When we did meet, she “warned” him about me. Warned him about what? !! The bitch had never even had a conversation with me and was one of those people that could never look me in the eye, even after we were married. Definitely no one I ever trusted! There was another person that I briefly dated there that also made shit up and would go around telling people, when the truth was, he had a lot to hide himself. Gossipers are the epitome of get a life and stay out of mine!

Months ago I was out with a male friend and his best friend’s wife when a young woman walked in wearing a super tight dress. The best friend’s wife decided to talk shit about her, saying it looked terrible on her, why is she wearing that, and general insults for no other reason except for her own insecurity. I think the young woman may have been pregnant, but I said to the friend’s wife, “Who cares? Seriously. Who really cares what she is wearing? Who really cares what anyone else is doing if it doesn’t affect us? It doesn’t matter. I don’t care to have this discussion about other people that I don’t know,” which abruptly ended the conversation. My male friend thought it was funny that I put her in her place, because I guess he didn’t care to hear it either.

Someone else that I interact with on occasion makes it a point to ask me extremely personal questions that are none of her damn business. If she took the time to read my blog, some of her questions might be answered, but a lot of her questions are things no one has the right to ask. For example, asking how much money I make is none of her business. Neither is asking very specific questions about my spiritual beliefs or sex life. If I feel the need to tell someone something, I’ll tell them or I’ll write about it, but other than that, mind your own damn business!

I have a frenemy that often talks shit about people, including me, but I have no issue returning the favor right to her face – because that’s the type of relationship we have. But when she starts making shit up about me and changing stories to make me look bad, then I have an issue, and that’s when I have to set her shit straight. Besides, she does her own fair share of making herself look like a dumbass in front of people and has burned many bridges because of it – but that’s on her.

This is probably another reason I stick by myself and avoid groups, especially groups of women. Some of the cattiest things come out of their mouths, gossiping about other people and then turning around pretending to be best friends. Oh, hell naw to that! I put an end to that shit in sixth grade, and I’m not living it again. Grow up already! If I have something to say, I will say it to your face or write about it and then send you the link (which I’ve done with some of my blog posts). Other than that, stay the hell out of my business!

Bye-Bye High-Five Guy

The other day I posted about saying bye-bye to people pleasing. Of course, as soon as that happens, the universe throws me a test.

I received a text from a male acquaintance asking me to go out for drinks or food. I told him I wasn’t going out, so he offered to bring me food. I had him order a sandwich, then I regretted it when he got here, because I remembered how he yell-talks right in my ear and he has to be told to stop yelling. We’d only hung out maybe three times over the last several years, and each time out in public drinking – when my senses are totally off. This was my first time being sober around him, but I’m unsure how much he’d had to drink.

The last time we’d had a conversation, I had a serious talk with him about some of the things he was doing and how he’s not going to find a decent girlfriend if he continues. I guess he took that to heart, because he’s currently making some changes. However, I think he’s wanting me as his girlfriend, because he started saying things like “Let’s go on a cruise, I’ll pay for it.” And “I don’t have any friends” – What?? And “If we ever got married…” What!!! Yikes! No thank you! I wasn’t aware of it until now, but he also lives with his mother, and he said he’s saving to buy a house and his mother will be living there, too, so he needs to find a woman that can accept that. Well, good luck!

In the meantime, we ate our sandwiches, he’s yell-talking in my ear a foot away from me, and every time he said something he’d say, “high five,” and put up his hand to high five. Me being my bluntly honest self, I was like what??? This is dumb, and I’m not high-fiving you anymore. (I will nickname him High-Five Guy.) Then he started talking inappropriately about sex and his dick – and besides the fact I’m over surface-level conversations – I told him I didn’t want to hear it. Whenever I would attempt to change the subject, he would interrupt and loudly speak over me, and I told him it was really rude. And then I guess he got offended when I asked him to throw his food container away, because he said something about him being a guest and that’s my job… whoa! I told him I wasn’t his mother or his maid, and my guests need to clean up after themselves. That’s when he said he was going outside (backyard) to smoke a cigarette.

I was doodling on some art when I realized High-Five Guy been gone for a longer time than usual, so I went to see what was going on. He wasn’t there. I checked out front, and his car was gone. I was not disappointed whatsoever and also relieved, but I wanted to find out what happened, so I sent him a text:

“Why did you leave and not say anything? I thought you were out back smoking. That’s fucking weird.” He said he was insulted. I said “What are you talking about? Instead of just taking off you should have probably said something. I mean come on, we are not in sixth grade.” He said every time he said something he said something wrong. He can’t win. Whatever. I told him “We have different personalities and energies, and it is what it is, thanks for the sandwich, have a good night!”

When I got up the next morning, he’d sent me a text at 5am saying how he’d brought me dinner and that he’d never been treated so poorly in his life. Then he ended it with this, “if u don’t change your ways a bit u will never get a good man. just a piece of advice. u have talked to me that way a few times now. nobody that has self worth would tolerate being talked to like that. no hard feelings but u have to be honest. I wish u luck.”

Here’s the thing – I still don’t have a fucking clue what he’s talking about, the way I talked to him? By asking him to clean up his shit and throw it in the garbage? By asking him to please keep his voice down? And tell him I didn’t want to have a conversation about sex? This is what I sent back:

“Wait a minute – who is rude? Who left without saying anything? That’s crazy and weird, not to mention completely immature. Is asking you to keep your voice down treating you poorly? I have elderly neighbors next door and you are extremely loud. The fact that everything I tried to say you interrupted me and spoke over me was very rude. That is not the type of company that I prefer in my home. It’s actually very disrespectful. Like I said, I think we are just different personalities and different energies. I’m not here to kiss somebody’s ass and serve them like a maid for bringing me a sandwich. I don’t need a man at all and a good one would show a lot more respect in my home. Good luck to you as well. Speaking of respect sending me this stuff at 5am is another issue.”

I find it funny how some men always refer back to “you’ll never find a good man!” when in fact, those are the same ones that act childish and still live with their mothers. I’ll take being alone for the rest of my life over having to put up with that… and I’ll even high-five to that!

Saying Bye-Bye to People Pleasing

I was reading a young woman’s blog post about her being a people pleaser, and it’s something that came up as a topic in one of my counseling sessions last year. I believe the discussion had to do with staying in relationships longer than I should, because I didn’t want to hurt the other person. I feel that’s what you do with the people you love, whether it’s a romantic relationship or a friendship. I was always taught to stick through things, even when you’re miserable, because things will eventually work out. I’m not sure that’s accurate, because it’s never worked!

That’s when my counselor told me I was a people pleaser. Although I’d never really thought of myself as one, it makes sense as to what I have experienced in all types of relationships. I am slowly learning and making changes, but undoing something you’ve been doing for most of your life isn’t easy! I recall finding myself catering to men I dated without getting anything in return – often hosting, cooking, cleaning up everything – you name it. What the fuck was I thinking? As far as friends go, I would be a shoulder to cry on, but when it was my turn, those same people weren’t there. The thing is – I enjoyed doing that for someone I cared about or loved. I treat the people I care about the way I want to be treated, even if I am being taken advantage of, and I’ve had enough of that shit!

I resonate with most of this article from Psychology Today, “Are you a people pleaser?” Neglecting myself by serving others’ needs before my own? Check. Fear of rejection? Check. Resentment when I don’t feel appreciated or feel like I’m giving more than the other person? Check. This is another thing I have to work on, because being taken advantage of is a really awful feeling. Usually, once I realize someone is taking advantage of me, it’s a little late and a lot of resentment has built up by that point – and once I get to that point, I’m over the relationship. But I’d rather see the signs prior to that point.

I do believe I’ve gotten better over time, especially the last couple of years in romantic relationships, friends, and jobs. Now I don’t feel the need to make dinner for a man to please him if he doesn’t do something in return, and I’ve limited friendships with people that haven’t been there during times of need. Unless I’m working for myself, when it comes to jobs, I do what is in the job description and nothing more. There is no need to burn myself out again trying to please others that will do nothing more than move on to the next person when I stop giving.

Answers After Abandonment

I just reread a post I wrote about a year and half ago about dealing with abandonment issues that stemmed from my childhood and how this is a recurrent theme in my life. I am still trying to figure out what it is about my choosing of people that are inclined to abandon or ghost without explanation. Sometimes I do get explanations, although they may be months or years down the road. Other times, I have to suck it up and realize that some people are just cowardly assholes and I’m better off without them.

I recall the time when I was in the army and received a letter from the ex-boyfriend that I’d lost my virginity to. Initially, I was shocked at receiving anything from him at all, as it had been about two years since I’d seen him, and I was far beyond over him. I can’t remember everything the letter said, but he’d apologized for treating me like shit, told me how beautiful I was, and said something about me looking like Mariah Carey (which made me laugh – must have been the hair!). Years later, he attempted to date me again, but that wasn’t happening; I don’t repeat the same mistakes with the same person.

Most “abandonment” that happened pre-internet was just what it was, and I believe it was easier to move on, because there was no communication available if someone moved or changed phone numbers. Out of sight, out of mind. People would just wonder what happened to that person until their class reunion. But today, there is no excuse – or maybe poor excuses – like the one “friend” that suddenly quit talking to me, because she blamed me for working in a place where her ex knew people and some other lame-ass excuse. That was total bullshit, and I realize now so was our “friendship.”

What I don’t need in my life are fair-weathered friends. We all go through things in life that are inevitable and difficult to deal with – sickness, death, divorce, etc. It’s another thing if the issues are just drama type of bullshit that can be avoided, but if someone else can’t handle the problems you never invited them into in the first place, that’s on them. What’s really shitty is when you’re at your worst place and you get abandoned by those you thought had your back, especially when you would never do that to them.

With that being said, I had a male friend that I’d known since my days in the military, and about three years ago, he suddenly disappeared. I knew he was taking a break from social media, but I did have his email and phone number. I also knew he’d had some health issues, so I was truly concerned for his well-being, especially since I hadn’t heard from him and my emails and phone calls went unanswered. It was really out of the norm for him not to keep in touch at all. But then I happened to log into an old Facebook account where we were still “friends,” so I messaged him asking how he was, excited to get back in touch, because I truly enjoyed corresponding with him most of the time. Immediately, I was blocked. I thought how fucking bizarre and dramatic is this? I thought maybe he’s dating someone, and he can’t be friends with other women. Later, I was unblocked so that he could send me a very lengthy message describing in detail how he blocked a bunch of people a few years ago that weren’t adding positivity to his life. Ummm, okay, that’s understandable, but I’m not exactly sure how I fit in there, being that we live 3000 miles apart. He added something about the drama in my life, which wasn’t drama at all – I had a family member with cancer, and around that time a close friend had died. That’s not drama – that’s life! But what I really think happened is this – since we’ve known each other, he’d wanted a romantic relationship with me, and I wasn’t interested. I recall probably telling him a little too much about my personal dating life, and I honestly think he was jealous. I mean, I understand if I wanted someone romantically and they were rejecting me, but the reality of it is we’d never get along in that type of relationship anyway, not to mention the distance. Besides, I didn’t drag him into my “drama” or whatever you might call it; he tends to do that himself with other people’s business. Either way, at least I found out the truth behind the matter, and he seemed very sincere about it, which is a lot more than I can say for other people in my life who have done the same type of thing.

Am I guilty of ghosting anyone? Absolutely! But there is a difference when you’re not getting along with the person or you’ve had a falling out rather than just never speaking to them again without warning. I wish there was an abandonment meter when meeting someone, because it is truly heartbreaking when it happens, and I would definitely avoid those types of people. It’s completely unfair and selfish, not to mention immature, to abandon someone close to you without warning or explanation, and it says a lot about that person’s character.