Are boundaries just another way for neurotypicals to take advantage of autistics?

Presently, my wife and I are engaged in some frustrating discussions about boundaries. Despite being just one of the current buzzwords in psychology, I understand there is a logical purpose for them. However, if we consider them to be one, of many, “tools” people might use in relationships, they can be, like any tool, used properly or improperly. Dictators have many boundaries!.

These “rules” can be overused or underused. Much of this is taught, and personality, culture, occupation, and other factors can alter how a person views boundaries. My autism tends to make understanding this – like everything in communication – more difficult. It also gives others another way to manipulate and control us because that confusion makes us vulnerable. At some point, we have no idea what a fair boundary is because they are applied so indiscrimately and tend to include others and exclude us.

Now that she has discovered – or been “taught” – this concept, my wife is wielding her boundary sword and self-care shield with the same enthusiasm in which she steps over any person, place, thing, or idea that is in her way. I don’t think she sees them, to be honest. I don’t understand her at all sometimes, and her approach to boundaries now is nearly incomprehensible, especially since she hasn’t been concerned about my boundaries for years or what has led to her making them. I’m convinced it is the “boundaries” of mine she has ignored for a long time that now is the real reason she is making her own. In other words, they are a way for her to not feel responsibly for the many times she has dismissed me or others. She is not alone: I’m realizing this is what other family and people in my past have done.

The pattern for me has been:

1) I try to make a boundary (or state I need help).

2) People ignore it.

3) I get upset they are dismissing me, and it gets worse over time.

4) They set their boundary, so they don’t have to consider what they have done wrong, namely violating my boundary from the start.

I am taken advantage of by people in all directions, in my boundaries and in theirs. All people see is themselves in boundaries. What kind of selfish and egotistical world are we in? I’m not sure people see it, they are so f’ing immersed in social media, the media, self-care, and boundary-setting. It’s a joke, and they don’t know it’s on them.

It’s pathetic, and they won’t admit it. Boundaries are, by themselves, meaningless. It’s the spirit behind them that is important. And, the people who most like to set them tend to be the people who simply don’t have enough empathy to care about others. These are the people who discard others instantly, don’t lose sleep over children in crisis, refuse to apologize for failing to take seriously other people, and so forth.

For these especially callous and indifferent people among us, boundaries are like candy, a legitimate way to control others! It’s no wonder my wife loves them. It’s all about her. “I’m tired” is not an excuse I accept anymore, unless there is a clear reason for it. That boundary has been used when children are in crisis for too long. I didn’t say, “I’m tired” to my kids at 3am. But, look at the results! My wife has a much better life than I do. So, certainly, to be as happy as she is, have strict boundaries. It may hurt people around you, but you will be happy, and that’s ALL that matters, apparently. (That’s what her version of Jesus would tell her, of course.)

This past Christmas, my wife’s boundaries hurt others, but then she got mad at me for it. Again. Her boundary kept the only sibling who could have made it, come to my mother’s house at Christmas. Then, it didn’t even matter, because of what she did. I got upset at her, and I was the “abusive” one, though she fails to realize what she did also counts as abuse. (Minimizing and dismissing people is a form of abuse.) She’s also blamed my siblings for my family problems, failing to consider any of our trauma is real. At least, my mother has recognized it, finally, and maybe she can convince my wife my siblings and I are not making everything up. At this point in my life, I’d rather people be mean to me than dismissive.

My wife’s boundaries are about discussing the past, yet, it is the past that she referenced to make her boundaries! She doesn’t like talking about the past because she knows what she has done wrong but won’t admit. Technically, she has apologized on some accounts, but that was only after I insisted for many years, and she realized our children had learned what she was doing.

She will get her “reward” someday, and I can’t say I didn’t warn her. It’s because of her boundaries, not “official,” but always present. I can’t defend her any longer, and I sure as hell don’t have some prayer list to put her on, that she may see how she hurts her children. It’s fine. She can be the hero to the world, and I’ll just stay in bed all day. That is fine with her because I don’t cross her boundaries if I do nothing. That is insane.

‘Self-care” is bullshit. The worst part is how much Jesus must love these boundaries. (That is sarcasm.) I am sick of my wife’s “prayer list” (boundary list) that allows her an out from actually doing something. You just pray for your child and then, you have nothing else to do. She has told me that the point of prayer is so “God” will take care of it. Once you have prayed for someone, you don’t have to do anything else! That’s why you don’t lose sleep when your children need you!

Yes. It’s the prayer boundary! Why overstep what is God’s work.

Is it any wonder I am sick of – and sickened by – religion?

Actually, she does show concern for the children of others. As my one son said, not too long ago, “If one of her friends’ children has a problem, she acts very concerned. If it’s one of us, she doesn’t seem to care.” But, my wife is convinced she understands my children. I’ve spent nearly twenty years explaining to her that some of them don’t feel like she cares about them. I can’t do that anymore, though I will continue to encourage them to accept she simply can’t do so and can’t understand them. Appreciate all the things she does and, as my therapist keeps telling me, get emotional support from someone else. That may be the worst mistake of my life, to think my wife can someday understand “normal” emotions, much less autistic ones.

Imagine a person with a narrow range of emotions setting boundaries with an autistic person who really needs help in navigating a chaotic world.

Read that again.

Then, consider my attempts to find people who understand me end up failing because my wife both wants me to use other people to support me, but when I do, she doesn’t actually like it, and that confuses me and sets me into a panic, as I get caught between her and others, even though she helped put me there. To the rest of the world, I’m just the raving lunatic, a role I’ve learned so well, I don’t know how to stop playing it. I was groomed to be a successful punching bag. I don’t know how to keep others from putting me there. WOW.

The gist of our argument presently is that my wife has made boundaries that have caused me to have to make boundaries with others that, I believe, are unfair to me and them. I don’t understand this, but she is adamant it doesn’t matter whether it hurts me (or others), she is not going to give up her happiness for anyone else.

That is what she now states, quite literally having said, “Why should I give up any of my happiness for someone else?!” Could someone please tell me if I’m wrong in thinking that is selfish and callous. (You can comment below!)I hope one or both of us are misunderstanding the other, but she is being explicit. I attribute this to her belief that she only has to worry about herself, as she continues to fuel her toxically positive attitude with “support” from any who agree with her, and that seems to be most people, especially in this time and place (USA, 2023). My wife has absolutely no concept of trauma, suffering, or any real anxiety. The only thing she’s had to worry about is imageand her ability to follow whatever “divine” or personal plan she believes is in place for her.

“God’s will” is a perpetual ticket to the land of apathy for those who don’t understand people have negative emotions during difficult circumstances. It’s that attitude that allows here to be less concerned about breaking someone’s collar bone than celebrating that fact you kept him from scoring in a game of backyard football. (She literally broke a boy’s collar bone and gave him a concussion, in elementary school, and, when I mentioned that once, hoping it didn’t have any long-term effects on his brain, her response was, “But, he didn’t score!”).

That attitude is what has carried over for decades, with “He didn’t score” turning into “Look what you did,” as I protected my niece. I had no idea a person so nice and kind could be so callous and distant. But, nobody believes me if I say it. Well, those are the people who mysteriously I’m not supposed to see anymore, who I end up alienating because I can’t reconcile between them and my wife. They are the ones I try to forget because they gave me some hope in myself, but it’s not as good as lying in bed hopeless.

I need the “perfect” friend – someone who can make me feel better about myself but doesn’t make my wife look bad in the process. In other words, that person doesn’t exist. But, I am practicing gratitude – being happy mu wife lets me stay in bed all day, as long as I don’t complain. Now, that is a great deal!

However, she is not keeping me from my siblings, even if she won’t see them because they may have been critical of her in the past because they have disrupted the family system that has gotten her lots of attention from my parents who adoremy wife. She has been the greatest enabler of all in allowing them to diss their children for decades. But, nobody’s boundaries mattered to her all of those years because they were wrong and stupid boundaries! She didn’t matter why people had made them; she was going to do what she wanted.

That’s how it works. A person can break your boundaries because they have a right too, but they also expect perfect compliance with the boundaries they make, because they have a right to demand that. Either way, I’m losing this boundary game.

I find many boundaries are implied, and that’s one of the impossibilities with autism. It’s a guessing game, and regardless of which way you guess, you seem to come out on the wrong side. At my previous job, I tried for months to clarify and understand boundaries with a person who only confused me more, assuring me nothing was a problem. But, that changed, almost instantly, for reasons that – of course – don’t have to be given or explained because that’s part of the “boundary game” neurotypicals play. The only explanation I’ve come up with is that someone else violated a boundary, and she, like me now, was put into a frustrating situation. Optionally, she is just very dishonest and manipulative, but many people appear that way to me now, and with good reason.

Do people laugh at me when they do this? I imagine they celebrate every time they discard a person (using “boundaries”), as if they “won” something. There probably is a moment of gratification for some when they decide to display their boundary prowess, and some people live only for those fleeting moments. Social media and most things in our modern world only encourage this way of thinking. Disrupt any part of that, and you’ve crossed a boundary, most likely.

Anyone can set a boundary at any time for any reason. Yes, of course. But, that doesn’t mean it is appropriate to do so, and I believe, like most other things, some people will yell “boundary” as soon as they can for nothing but their own personal satisfaction or to ignore the existential needs of people around them.

Boundaries have left me isolated and alone. People not respecting mine, not being honest about theirs, and ultimately creating ones that are impossible to follow if I try to have any normal conversation.

So, for now, I’m trying to follow my wife’s boundaries. They are for her, not me, but I’m following them. She doesn’t care if I have to be hurt in the process. That’s not the point. The idea is that she should not have to sacrifice one moment of her life or comfort for anyone else (unless she gets to complain about it.) I don’t understand it, but that’s how it apparently works. This won’t last long because it feels so wrong to me.

(A few days later.)

This is untenable. I’m not going to ruin my life in service to my wife (or parents) anymore. The only problem is, she controls everything now, even though nobody realizes it. Wait – that’s not true! I had a friend who knew it, but that didn’t exactly set well with my wife, and, over time, she finally took back her control, and, she would rather not discuss the carnage caused by this. In other words, it’s her new boundary. Some in my family know it, and she doesn’t like them anymore. Others at my job know it, some of my children know it. But, nobody actually will stand up for me because she is “so nice” and impervious to criticism. No, some have stood up to her, in a sense, but those are the people who somehow get boundaried out. (My wife has a tendency to not tell me critical information or just flat out lie about things. I didn’t know this until the past year, and her level of skill at this is remarkable.)

My wife doesn’t want to reflect on what we’ve done wrong? Just go on a walk, and the world will be perfect (as long as I don’t talk too much). Yeah. The goal now is apparently to forget every person in my life who has ever been nice to me. That was mostly a mirage anyway, so, in that regard, it’s probably not a bad idea.

I have no idea how I can try out this new job without breaking my wife’s boundaries or others breaking mine. Did I ever make boundaries? I’m too worried about everyone else’s to have time to set my own. Autism and trauma make this nearly impossible to know what is going on. I do know that boundaires are often full of neurotypical nonsense, used as a way to control or exclude others and not feel guilty doing it.

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One response to “Are boundaries just another way for neurotypicals to take advantage of autistics?”

  1. […] my previous post on boundaries, I wrote, referring to my […]


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