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Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin (Fireside / Parkside Recovery Book) Paperback – November 9, 1993

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Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin (Fireside / Parkside Recovery Book) + Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day + Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1 edition (November 9, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671791931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671791933
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Anne Katherine, M.A., C.M.H.C., C.E.D.T., is a lecturer, counselor, and therapist, and the author of Anatomy of a Food Addiction. Her practice with Associated Recovery Therapists is in Seattle, Washington, where she leads food-addiction recover groups and therapy for recovering individuals. She lives in Snohomish, Washington.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1


Laura's Story

I was born a month premature. In those days, preemies were put in an incubator and left alone. In my imagination, armed with what I've gleaned from years of therapy, I can return to those first days. What I see first looks like a tunnel with a clear roof. I am looking up through the incubator. A bright light shines all the time. The walls beyond are plain and white. I feel cut off from everyone and don't know who I belong to. The only time I am touched is to be cleaned.

Recently, I asked my mother how much she held me those weeks we were still in the hospital after my birth.

"Why, I held you all the time!" she said.

"How much?" I insisted. All the time was not my memory.

"Why, whenever they'd let me."

"How often was that?" I persisted.

"I held you every time they brought you to me to be fed" she said. "Twenty minutes, three times a day."

An hour a day my first three weeks of life. My baby self knew that wasn't nearly enough.

That touch deprivation continued. When I was six months old my father left my mother, so she left me with my grandparents and took off. My grandparents were not the most demonstrative people in the world. Maybe I saw them kiss each other once in all the years I lived with them. Me, they never touched.

When I was ten my mother remarried and decided she wanted me back. The second night I was in their house -- my mother worked nights -- my stepfather came into my room and got into bed with me.

After never being touched or held, I felt hands on my body. His touch made me feel sick inside. Something told me this wasn't right but nothing had ever told me that my feelings mattered or that I had a choice about anything. So I put up with it.

I remember the first time a boy touched me. I was thirteen, he was sixteen. We were at a teen dance and all I could think about was that I finally had a boyfriend. He danced with me and kept his arm around me all night. Was I jubilant? Was I thrilled? No, I was terrified. The only kind of touch I'd ever known disgusted me.

This was a nice boy who was completely proper and respectful, but when he put his arm across my shoulders I felt sick. My heart was beating so loudly from fear I could hear its pounding cadence in my ears. Far from enjoying my first healthy experience with a boy, my heart beat like that far into the night, hours after I was home alone. I avoided his calls. I wouldn't see him again.

Beth's Story

My mother was over 40 when I was born. My father, older still, was a military man. He commanded the household and everything in it, especially me. From preschool on he had long, serious discussions with every one of my teachers. He watched what I ate, directed my play, and as I got older interviewed my friends. It was he who taught me the neat way to dress, the proper way to sit and stand, and the meaning of duty, obedience, and loyalty.

When I had my first period, however, we were both shocked. Until then I had been perfect -- straight As, conducting myself with proper military bearing. I was the son he'd never had. But becoming a woman interrupted my perfection. He didn't have to tell me but I knew I'd failed him in a big way. So I stopped eating. Eventually I stopped looking like a woman and my period stopped. My mother was concerned but my father wasn't. And since she didn't have a lot of say in our house nothing happened. Eventually, however, I was so thin and had so much trouble concentrating that my mother insisted I see a doctor. The doctor put me in the hospital immediately.

My father didn't want me away from him, but my therapists said I was anorexic and needed treatment. They forced me to eat. When my therapy group upset me, I called my father and he told me not to listen to them. He called my counselor and argued with her that nothing was wrong with me. The more he talked to me, the more I realized that it was ridiculous for me to be in the hospital. Those people didn't know what they were talking about. I was just fine. Besides, I missed him. He needed me. Finally my father came to get me. He didn't even care that insurance would no longer cover the costs because I'd left against medical advice. He wanted me with him that much.

Boundaries -- What Are They?

Therapists and recovering people toss the word around easily. But what do they mean? Why have these stories been included? Do they say something about boundaries? Maybe not yet, but they will.

In this chapter we'll look at the big picture, boundaries from an eagle's point of view. Later we'll close in on the details. We'll swoop down on specific aspects of boundaries so that you'll recognize both the forest and the trees.

Exercises pepper the chapters. Enjoy them. Most are brief. Some involve other people. All let your body and heart in on the knowledge you're collecting with your mind -- in learning what boundaries are all about.

An Amoeba Is Not a Tulip

So what is a boundary? A boundary is a limit or edge that defines you as separate from others. A boundary is a limit that promotes integrity.

Your skin is a boundary. Everything within your skin is the physical you.

Each living organism is separated from every other living organism by a physical barrier. Amoebae, orange trees, frogs, leopards, bacteria, tulips, turtles, salmon -- all have physical limits that delineate them as unique from other organisms. This limit can be breached by injury or other organisms, if the breach is severe enough or if the invading organism is toxic or hostile, the host organism can die. An intact physical boundary preserves life.

Even an organism's physical components have boundaries. Your nerves are covered with a sheath or membrane. Your bones are distinct from your muscles. The physical world abounds with boundaries. Were it not so, when we sat down, we'd pass right through the chair (and the chair through us) and be sprawled on the floor. Except then we'd pass through the floor, too. And then the earth? Where would we stop?

We Are Surrounded by an Invisible Circle

Our skin marks the limit of our physical selves, but we have another boundary that extends beyond our skin. We become aware of this when someone stands too close. It's as if we are surrounded by an invisible circle, a comfort zone. This zone is fluid. A lover, say, can stand closer than most friends, and a friend can stand closer than a stranger. With someone who is hostile we might need a great deal of distance.

We have other boundaries as well -- emotional, spiritual, sexual, and relational. You have a limit to what is safe and appropriate. You have a border that separates you from others. Within this border is your youness, that which makes you an individual different and separate from

What is an emotional boundary? We have a set of feelings and reactions that are distinctly ours. We respond to the world uniquely based on our individual perceptions, our special histories, our values, goals, and concerns. We can find people who react similarly, but no one reacts precisely as we do.

My Size Is None of Your Business

When it comes to how others treat us emotionally, we have limits on what is safe and appropriate. I came out of a store in downtown Seattle and a stranger started screaming at me about a religious matter. I turned and walked away. I do not have to accept screaming from anyone. I will accept appropriate anger from my friends and loved ones, but even then, I determine how close I'm willing to be to an angry person.

When I was younger, my landlady routinely commented about my weight. "You're getting bigger, ain't cha."

I let her say those things to me because I didn't know any better. Now I know that no one has a right to comment on my body. If that happened today, I'd tell her, "My size is none of your business and I want you to keep those thoughts to yourself." If she persisted, I'd also persist. I might never again deal with her in person. I might even move, whatever it would take to protect my emotional boundaries.

I used to let my clients say anything they wanted to me. If their need to be angry is that urgent, I thought, let them learn anger with me. Now I sacrifice myself for no one. If a client says something that hurts, I set a limit. Clients can be angry with me, and they can tell me so, but meanness and hostility advance neither the relationship nor the individual. If I let someone abuse me verbally, I have done neither one of us a favor.

The same is true for you. When you let someone abuse you or hurt you verbally, the other person is not advanced. Protecting yourself sets a necessary limit for both of you. That limit advances the relationship.

We have spiritual boundaries. You are the only one who knows the right spiritual path for yourself. If someone tries to tell you he knows the only way you can believe, he's out of line. "You must work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12, New EngliSh Bible) We can be assisted but not forced. Our spiritual development comes from our inner selves.

We have sexual boundaries, limits on what is safe and appropriate sexual behavior from others. We have a choice about who we interact with sexually and the extent of that interaction.

We have relational boundaries. The roles we play define the limits of appropriate interaction with others.

In later chapters, we'll explore and further define these kinds of boundaries. But why so much talk about boundaries? Why are they so important?.

Boundaries bring order to our lives. As we learn to strong then our boundaries, we gain a clearer sense of ourselves and our relationship to others. Boundaries empower us to determine bow we'll be treated by others, With good boundaries, we can have the wonderful assurance that comes from knowing we can and will protect ourselves from the ignorance, meanness, or thoughtlessness of others.

Touching Tells Us W...

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Customer Reviews

My counselor recommended this book to me.
Pam Kazmaier
This is a very helpful book with easy to relate to stories and practical applications.
Especially protecting your emotional boundary it is the best sense of self!!
A. Blaz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Chasmodai on June 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Excellent for anyone who is trying to get a handle on what interpersonal boundaries are and how they work.
The concept of interpersonal boundaries can be hard to grasp, but Anne Katherine's book makes it easy, even for a layperson. Clear and concise, this book can be read on a single afternoon, but keep you thinking for days.
Including exercises designed to help increase awareness of boundaries, and life stories that illustrate how boundary dysfunction occurs, the book paints a clear picture of boundaries, enmeshment, and triangulation.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be a good parent, have a successful marriage, resolve childhood and current issues, or even manage a well functioning workplace with good employee relations.
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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
If an interaction feels icky and you don't know why, perhaps this book can explain things.
We can't control how others treat us, but this book shows us how to tell them, in a positive and productive manner how we feel about being treated poorly.
This book is also an eye-opener for those who may not even be aware that their boundaries are being violated. The author illustrates many types of boundaries and how they can be respected (or disrespected).
By following the advice in this book, you will improve your interactions with others.
*Included in this book is a free jerk filter. It does an excellent job of weeding out those who choose to react badly when you set your boundaries.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book to help in the understanding of what consitiutes a boundary in interpersonal relationships with family, friends and co-workers. If everyone recognized boundaries then there would be little need for therapists and counselors. Sometimes a boundary exists where it isn't readily recognizable and that's where this book comes in very handy when working with my clients. It's written in relatively "jargon free" simple style so one can concentrate on the content of the subject matter, not the vocabulary of the author. For those interested in personal growth, this is a winner!
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Book Addict on December 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I was looking for a book on how to establish healthy boundaries in everyday situations such as work and family. Specifically I was looking for positive ways to say no without ruffling feathers.

I read about two thirds of this book and put it down because it is really geared towards women who can't say no to men's advances. Much of the content deals with abuse and incest.

While this may be helpful to some, the title and description of this book were misleading to me.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
As an eating disorders specialist and registered dietitian, I find many people who are using the obsession with food to avoid dealing with other issues. In many cases these are boundary issues and this book does an EXCELLENT job of helping people improve their boundaries and become more emotionally healthy people which is a necessity in recovering from disordered eating issues and other addictions. I would highly recommend this book and I frequently distribute it to my patients
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful By G. Kathleen Bettencourt on July 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book impacted my life more than any other I have ever read (I have read thousands), or class I have ever taken (I have two college degrees).
My children were taken from me. Social Services stepped in. I ran for a long time focussing on the lies that they accepted as fact (way too numerous to mention). I thought I was a great Mom. In many ways I was, but I now know I didn't teach my children boundaries. I grew up with none. I am still fighting for my four children, but in a very different way. I now spend the time I have with them totally focused. I try to help them to see how important boundaries are. Taking care of your self, does not mean you can't take care of someone else, in the long run, it is better for all. I didn't matter before. Today my children see a mother that cares about herself. I am working hard at learning my own boundaries and respecting the boundaries of others.
This book has changed my perspective, thus changing my attitude.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Constant Reader on August 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is okay. I think her book "Where to Draw the Line" was much better. Still this is a good workbook format and Dr. Katherine is the boundary master. Not sorry I bought it, but would recommend going to the other book first.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Smith VINE VOICE on July 15, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
boundaries is an issue of considerable difficulty for most folks. knowing when to allow yourself to be pulled in versus isolating. while most of us settle in somewhere in the middle, most folks face boundary problems with someone - a parent, child, spouse, co-worker. .. this is a fairly short book. it does not discuss ad nausium scholarly, research, or theoretical bases. it discusses numerous topics that can be of immense help as well as some (very) good exercises. this book is an easy read and relatively well written. i think it is worthwhile perusing for the individual experiencing boundary concerns. i think it is definitely worth the used price, possibly new.
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