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  • Writer's pictureCrys Raffa

It Can't Be Just Your Boundaries That Matter

It can never be said that relationships are easy. If anyone says it, please do not trust any other thing they say on the matter.

It has been my experience that relationships are especially difficult and filled with pitfalls and traps and I now know how much of that has to do with me being neurodivergent. This is a significant piece of information and one I wish I had been in possession of so long ago. My ADHD diagnosis is helpful and did tell me I had neurodivergent as a diagnosis, but what nobody had caught until my ASD diagnosis was that most of my other medical diagnoses were comorbidities of Autisim and not stand alone issues.

A serious result of this late life diagnosis is that I did what all ASD do as a result of life in a neurotypical world; masking to survive. I build a persona instead of allowing myself to show my personality. This is a very key thing and it manifests problems in a staggering amount of ways on every level of my life. To begin with with have to be clear about acknowledgment of the difference between those two terms: Persona vs. Personality.

Persona is what I built. The mask of identity is what everyone around me, outside of my home in particular, came to know and meet and interact with on a daily basis. It was the creation of trauma responses and my lack of understanding of all things social and interpersonal. I was creating what I honestly believed to be a sense of self instead of allowing my actual self to be shown. It was the faun response to being yelled at and the people pleaser who developed almost psychic empath powers to avoid issues. It was the person who People Watched obsessively to make absolutely sure(!) there were no cue or clues missed as to what body langue *actually* meant because I knew people would never tell the full truth out loud.

Personality is the reality of who Crys actually is as a person. It is my character and ethics and values. It is the terms by which I live and structure my life and the interests and hobbies that make my life feel full. It is the things that I come to on my own and not the things I take on in order to survive around others. It is not about being liked in order to survive or blend in, it is simply the facts of my truth.

My personality has always existed and that is true for all neurodivergent people. We are always ourselves, but our masks are often very deep and very thick and the later in life we are diagnosed, the harder it is for us to divest ourselves of them. We have a horrific struggle ahead of us, those who chose to do that work, to break the mask and remove the pieces from our daily lives. It is possible that a person may decide to keep the mask and allow it to remain. They may feel safer having that shield in place when facing the neurotypical world. Never would I tell anyone else to let go of what makes them feel safe unless that thing is causing harm to others as a result. Masks are a very selective in that they majority do not harm others.

Part of unmasking for me has been a series or realizations both internal and external. It has come in waves like most in-depth therapeutic awakenings are want to do and as it happens I am forced to process them. When you have spent three decades *not* facing things and then all of a sudden know a vast array of reasons for why and how you have avoided facing them; more importantly actively make the choice to no longer avoid facing them it becomes a cyclone of emotional pain. It has been devastation and upset. It has been pain and grieving. It has been forcing myself to let go and hold on while destroying and rebuilding myself all at once. Being ASD can mean that you do not enforce your own boundaries and often times do not even allow yourself to *have* boundaries. It allows others to take SERIOUS advantage of you in massive and manipulative ways. This has happened to me in a few relationships, including my current one. For several reasons I won't go further into details about that right now, but I wish I could.

The relevance about it and my current relationship is how in doing this unmasking work I have strived to break myself of trauma responses. I am being better and stronger about having boundaries and enforcing them. I am being more vocal about my needs and not allowing them to be invalidated and ignored or disrespected. That behavior from a person who always allowed themselves to be trod on like a doormat who enjoyed the is a lot for the other partner. **I am aware of this. It is not like I think it should be easy or casual for the non ASD person to adapt to my changes.** It has never been my stance that changes I make to me and my ways should simply be taken as ok and acceptable with a wave of my hand. Change is difficult for every human being and I do realize that.

What makes my situation such a problem is that they respond with hatred. They respond with disrespect and disregard. They have their own patterns and have made serious changes to our lives and home and family which are in no way simple to adapt to and yet every effort I have made, every open door and effort presented to them has been met with disdain. The list of crimes towards me is not only long, but repeatedly confessed to by them freely. That they have done these things is proveable and confessed to over and over again. Harm is routinely done when they claim to want to work on things, repair and continue together, but do NONE of the needed work to achieve that.


If you place zero value on my health, my well being, my position in this home and family....

If you look at my boundaries and decide they are worthless because they require you to make effort and compromises....

If you show me disrespect and slander me in front of our kids while insisting I never do *just that*....

If you risk our health and safety in the most serious of ways during things like Covid...

If you can easily lie to me for months upon months and continue to engage in deceitful behaviors and traitorous actions...

If you can hear me crying and asking for help, begging for rest because my health is failing when I am a full time at home parent....

All of that, but you will not change a solitary behavior of your own? You will not compromise any of what you say are your terms to reconcile after all you have done? All of this in front of two ASD kids who can hear and see you showing and saying hate to their ASD mother for being ASD and telling me I am the problem, the stubborn one, the issue?!

I say all of that and now I say this; are the tables even? No. The crimes done to me are worse and it can be proved. Does that make me fully innocent? NO, because prior to my diagnosis I was likely intolerant of certain things and didn't even know I was doing it. My ignorance is not an excuse, it is an explanation. The problem today is that they refuse to accept explanations from anyone else. They demand their word be taken as gospel and all responses be as they dictate and no other answers are valid. There is no latitude. Anything NOT how they want/need to hear it is 100% not allowed, no question, no tolerance, no effort, FULL STOP.

I have made significant compromise to my boundaries about need to understand, which as an ASD is quite critical to daily functionality, in order for them to give an answer they feel comfortable giving. I have worked to accept forms of answers and types of answers that do NOT make sense to me, because they are the best answer THEY are able to provide. I have compromised so much to make them feel more able to communicate with me; yet I am not worth any of that same effort.

It can't just be your boundaries that matter. If you expect to me in a relationship, to be married, to be a can never just be about you and yourself.

"Well Crys, all this work you say you've made, already invested...what if they asked you to compromise even more?"

Fair question. I'd resist, I won't lie. Not because that isn't something I'm willing to do or I find it an unfair request. If I'm gonna ask a thing of someone, I have to be willing to do it 9 times out of 10, but when they have done none of the work and made abundantly clear they refuse to at any point for any reason? No, I will make no further compromises. Until they make as much effort as I have already made, reach the point of compromise I have already offered them, there is nothing they are in a position to ask me to do.

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