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Healthy Boundaries And 
Codependent Extremes*

Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.

Number 57

Too Permeable
I overwhelm strangers and first-time acquaintances with intimate details of my life. I reveal confidences over time as trust is established.

I never open up to anyone, even to trustworthy people. I'm afraid they'll learn my "secret."

I find myself regularly overwhelmed at continually trying to meet others' needs even though my needs go unmet. I address the needs of others but don't regularly allow them to disrupt or  interrupt the effective management of my life

I don't let myself think of others' needs, even if I'm interested in them. I've got enough pain.

I fall in love at first sight and repeatedly  latch on to strangers as if they were life-long best friends. I want people to love me sooo much! Since relationships are based on respect, trust and communication, I let these develop before committing to love. I don't let myself love anyone. It's safer to keep them at a distance. After all, you never know who might hurt you. Besides, what do they want from me anyway?
I don't know what is really true so I let others decide for me what is real. I trust my perceptions and my abilities to determine what is real and how to react. I can also test other people's reality to see if it's
I can't listen to others or be influenced by them. Not only can I not trust them, but I can hardly maintain my facade of having it all together which I use to cover up reality.
I let others determine what's important for me. After all, I don't want to be rejected. I make decisions for myself based on my values and God's will for me. I can't make decisions. Even the simplest ones are hard. I don't want to make a mistake.
I can't take responsibility for myself or follow through. So I depend on others to take care of me. I take responsibilities for my decisions. If I fail, find out what I did wrong, I ask for forgiveness, the learn what I need to do differently. I feel excessively guilty when things aren't absolutely perfect.If I can't handle the guilt, I blame others for my failures.
What's a boundary? Do I have really have a right to stand up for myself?  Well, I never imagined I could do that! I am wary of  people who are overly helpful, who try to make decisions for me, and who don't respect my time and priority boundaries. I reject all suggestions and never allow anyone to interfere or assist, even when it might be helpful and appropriate.
I'll sacrifice anything in order to avoid abandonment, isolation and rejection. Though I am approachable, my biblically-based values are not negotiable. If people reject my for my values, I'm willing to pay that price. I'll never do anything for anybody just to please them. People are such a bother and are always messing with my life.
I'll say or do anything to be loved and accepted. I can't say "No" even if it hurts me. I give appropriate consideration to requests, weighing the consequences of the request. If I disagree or if it goes beyond what is reasonable, I will decline the request. Because I am so indecisive, I will try to avoid decisions that make me look foolish. I'll either 1) isolate myself so as not to make myself available for requests; 2) Be indirect with my "No" ("I'm busy", etc.). If threatened by the request, I will cut off all possibilities of interaction. If I impulsively make a decision I will later regret, I "escape."

* For further reading and insight see  Sandra Wilson, Released From Shame (IVP, 1990), p. 136

Thomas F. Fischer

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