In this episode, I’ll talk about how setting limits is essential to being a loving person, the specific yogic and Buddhist principle that helps us balance compassion for others with respect for ourselves, and I’ll fill you in on how hard creating healthy boundaries can be when you grow up with a parent who is severely mentally ill. You can use the player below (please keep this browser window on top to keep it playing smoothly) or you can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher.
Just a heads up before you listen - I believe stories are medicine, but medicine has to be dispensed at the right time, in the right amount, to the right person. My work frankly addresses childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, scenarios involving people living with severe mental illness, and other themes that might not be healing for you right now. I also talk about joy, liberation, and redemption, - but if the other stuff leaves you too charged up, these stories will be here if and when it feels like a good time to listen
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A woman with severe mental illness gave birth to me, and a different woman with severe mental illness raised me.
“Of course, we had to tell the children’s home all about your mama’s nerve problems, ” my dad told me.
That’s what my family, and a lot of other black families, called mental illness. A white doctor once demeaned and shamed Marlene Faye for saying she took “nerve pills” when he asked her if she was on any medications.
There were times she was well and stable, sure, and despite how raggedy and sad things got, we did laugh a lot.
Enmeshment is the opposite of having a healthy boundary with someone.
It’s a concept in psychology and psychotherapy introduced by Salvador Minuchin to describe families where a lack of healthy personal boundaries and over-concern for others leads to a loss of autonomy and healthy development. An emotional fusion happens, psyches get entangled, and patterns for later relationships develop.
I was tying to work all this out in therapy - again - in my late 30s, and had just done that awful thing you have to do when you go to a new therapist and have to tell your whole story over - again, and when I told him about my past and truthfully reported some of my self-destructive behaviors, he cut me off mid-sentence and indicated I should stop talking by holding his finger to his lips. “Boundaries. BOUND-O-REES - it’s clear you really don’t have any, for you - It’s all about the boundaries, baby.” He sat back in his chair all satisfied. Our time was up.
I found another therapist - even though it meant doing that awful thing all over again. Boundaries. I was learning. And I still am. This is a life-long practice.
Listen to the rest of this story on Spotify.
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Dr. Juko Holiday is the owner and director of Ease Mountain Yoga & Nourishing Arts, a yoga studio & wellness center in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.
Ease Mountain Yoga & Nourishing Arts
9573 Highway 9
Ben Lomond, CA 95005