This piece by Mercy Survivor Chelsea was originally published on her personal blog, The Pink Propaganda, and can be viewed here.
If there was one thing that we didn’t learn in Mercy Ministries it was what boundaries we were allowed to set up and keep. In fact even those who have decided Mercy wasn’t very good for them at all still have issues with boundaries. It’s not something you really think will change your life, some of you may even think you don’t DESERVE to have boundaries and others may just find it difficult to set them up in general. Of course boundary setting isn’t anything new or personal to those of us who went to Mercy Ministries, many, many people, even some of the people we look up to have issues with boundaries.
Setting up boundaries is an important aspect to life. It helps to relieve anxiety and depression, and helps you in the end take care of yourself, which you totally deserve. A lot of cult survivors have issues with boundaries. But lack of boundaries are almost celebrated in today’s culture. There’s a lot of comedies set up around people who lack boundaries, and it’s laughed at. I’m watching two and a half men right now, an entire comedy set around unhealthy boundaries.
What are some signs of unhealthy boundaries?
– Telling everything about yourself. Not being allowed to have secrets. This was something very key at Mercy Ministries. Even after I left Mercy and I started my blog I continued to just “tell all”. “I went into Mercy with this, this and this”. You’ll notice by their testimonies that all their graduates “tell all”. It breaks my heart. They probably don’t realize that they don’t have to do that. Eventually I changed my blog and I realized that I am allowed to keep secrets. YOU ARE ALLOWED to keep secrets.
– Being forced to trust somebody right off the bat. Talking intimately during the first meeting. Falling in love with brand new acquaintances or anybody who reaches out first.
– Going against your values in order to please others
– Accepting gifts, sex, touch or food when you don’t want it.
– Touching a person w/o asking or being touched by a person w/o them asking.
– Taking as much as you can just to get/ or giving as much as you can just to give.
– Letting someone else control your life.
– Letting others describe your reality
– Believing others can anticipate your needs
– Expecting others to fill your needs automatically
– Falling apart, so someone else will put you back together
– Sexual, Emotional, Verbal and Physical Abuse
The right to ask for what you want and need
The right to say no to something
The right to express all your emotions, negative and positive
The right to change your mind
The right to NOT be perfect
The right to follow your own beliefs
The right to say no to anything that you’re not ready for, feel unsafe doing or if it conflicts with your values.
The right to determine your own priorities
The right to not be responsible for anyone else’s actions, feelings or behavior
The right to expect honesty from other people
The right to be angry at someone
The right to be unique
The right to express fear
The right to not know
The right to not have an excuse or need a reason for your behavior
The right to make decisions based on your own feelings
The right to your own personal space and time
The right to feel safe and be in a non abusive relationship
The right to make friends and be comfortable around people
The right to change and grow
The right to have your wants and needs respected by others.
The right to be happy
1. Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries, Sierra Tuscan Recovery Program
2. Personal Bill of Rights, Therapist’s Guide to Clinical Invervention