Recently in my online DBT class, I shared a story from back in my early twenties when I had a very difficult time with boundaries. I call the story "Bus Stop Disclosure," a play on the phrase "doorknob disclosure," which therapist use to describe the major disclosure bomb that some patients wait until the very end of the session to reveal.
So there I was at a bus stop, and some unsuspecting stranger got to hear the story of my life -- all before the bus arrived. I didn't know why I did this, but I felt compelled so strongly to tell my whole life story to anyone who was nice to me. A smile? Yes, that counted. An exchange of a few words? Yes. I desperately wanted to be liked and loved. I took these innocent cues as messages that I needed to tell my whole life story, right away, to fend off those who might reject me later when they found out the details of my life piece by piece.
Is any of this sounding familiar? If it is, then you may also relate to the consequences I suffered as a result of this indiscreet behavior:
- Feeling filthy/dirty/exposed/naked/shameful after taking my emotional dump on a person I barely knew, yet repeatedly doing it.
- Feeling regret that I shared such precious, private parts of my story and life with someone who hadn't earned that right and honor
- My behavior was so unhealthy and inappropriate that it did the opposite of reeling in a person and securing a relationship. It pushed and scared them away. I came off as unstable and desperate.
I have so much compassion for my former self. I didn't know any better! I look at the intentions of the heart: to truly connect, love, and be loved. I was just ill equipped and didn't know effective ways to develop and maintain healthy, meaningful relationships like I do now with DBT Skills. A mix of Borderline Personality Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome ruled my life. It doesn't anymore. My goal is to help as many people as I can to find hope and to learn how to empower themselves to build the lives they want.
I don't do bus stop disclosures anymore, but that doesn't mean I'm never tempted to do so. It's very rare, but if I'm feeling emotionally vulnerable due to stress or hormonal fluctuations or a poor night's sleep, I can become a bit insecure, which is one of my red flags. I find that on those days, it is better to say LESS and take good care of myself until the storm passes.
Can you relate to any of this?
How are you working on having healthier boundaries for yourself?
Thanks for reading.