Let’s Talk About Boundaries….

There’s a cucu (grandmother) who I was talking with recently that taught me the value of the greetings in the Agikuyu culture. I also came across an article that tried to expound on the same. Basically the greetings were a way of enforcing boundaries so that you know there are lines not be crossed. Interestingly, all the greetings in the male female dynamic honored the mother and the women equally referred to the boy as their children, doesn’t matter if it’s a grandchild, inlaw etc. However in the female male dynamic, the men were required to be clear who the female was in their lives. Basically cucu told me part of the reasons everyone regulated themselves on how to address the other, be it those of the age bracket, those of another age bracket, elders etc was checked by greetings. Interesting.

Fundamentally, the boundaries you have over what is acceptable vs what is not is something you learn earlier in life. Culture essentially helps shape that. So what culture are we using currently to shape our values, in turn to shape our boundaries?

Mary a client I have been working with in therapy recently left her marriage. When she first got with her now ex-husband, she was open to him having other relationships as long as he informed her about it before hand. At the time they got married, he had already fathered a son with another woman and she didn’t have a problem with participating in raising him. 7 years and two children of their own later, the husband fathered 2 other children with separate women and now their finances were becoming a little stretched. She decided she was done allowing another relationship and child out of their marriage. She also felt she was straining to parent both the children as the husband was barely available especially for their son who she felt was having a lot of ‘disciplinary’ issues and the father not being present was part of the problem. And now she was re-thinking her lack of clear boundaries as far as what she accepted before marriage because she felt it was not working. What guided her then was because she believed men will always cheat but if she allowed him to have other relationships then she could control for the outcomes emotionally and mentally. She blamed herself because the strategy didn’t work. And lately she had been getting easily irritable and angry. She felt disrespected and shame for having allowed herself to be in the situation to begin with and even blamed herself for the end of her marriage. What to do?

Mary says she advices anyone who cares to listen to know themselves. That way it’s much easier to come up with boundaries that go a long way in guiding the decisions you make about your life. Anything goes, isn’t a strategy and it will cost you heavily. She wishes there was more guidance when she was growing up, to believe in herself, to not allow any disrespect and honor herself for it would have gone a long way in shaping her views even about what to do as far as relationships are concerned.

Boundaries, as the cucu told me determine what kind of society there is. A chaotic society can tell you a lot about what the people in it allow on a personal level. Hmm food for thought….


Please use this for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for seeking out professional help. The views expressed here in are  from my personal experiences as well as from those I have interacted with. And while one may resonate with what is shared, it’s not a substitute for appreciating your own unique personal experience. Always do your own research and due deligence on any topic to guard against being hoodwinked

Published by nasewangari

Clinical Psychologist| Humanist| Great passion for demystifying and decolonizing mental health

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