“There is a sacred realm of privacy for every man and woman where he makes his choices and decisions–a realm of his own essential rights and liberties…”
Geoffrey Fisher, 1959, Look Magazine
No person is an independent state.
We are reliant on other people for many things and at the most basic level, for company’s sake alone. Many people over the years have made the mistake of believing that they would thrive in isolation. In the realisation of their new reality, they often conclude that it’s not the way to live. Most of us never even go that far. We know that no matter how much we enjoy our own space, we’ll eventually need to re-enter the company of others. Spending time with others is a vital element of our own actualisation. In becoming part of their reality, we become infinitely more real in every sense.
Most people know how valuable and completely necessary companions are to their own survival, so we treat them like so. We let them into our lives and make them part of the framework. They are poured into the foundations and nailed into the beams. Some people bring many people into the structure, others few, but all allow some. It is important however, that in our enthusiasm for companionship, we don’t forget that boundaries still exist.
“There is a self-imposed privacy less easily invaded than convent walls.”
Henry Theodore Tuckerman, 1852, The Optimist: A Series of Essays
We may not put up boundaries intentionally, but we all have them.
Sometimes we don’t even know our own boundaries until somebody crosses them. We all have an inner space where we have certain liberties and this place is sacred. In this space we deliberate, make our own choices and control the direction of our own lives. This is not a place that we want anyone else to take over or breach. If we respect our own individuality and autonomy, we will at every turn, protect this private space. It is vital to maintain healthy boundaries and ensure that others respect them. Having boundaries and protecting our own autonomy as an individual is in fact necessary for healthy, functioning and productive relationships. Two healthy adults with respective boundaries will have a far more successful relationship than two people without.
We share our lives so closely with other people.
And if we choose carefully, they enhance our experiences and our lives as a whole. But privacy is vital and in relationships, we need to be aware of our individuality and maintain it. Our ability to self-govern is like treasure. The lines we draw to protect it must not be crossed, and it is our duty to ensure it.
“If, after I die, they should want to write my biography,
There’s nothing simpler.
I’ve just two dates—of my birth, and of my death.
In between the one thing and the other all the days are mine.
Alberto Caeiro (heteronym of Fernando Pessoa), 1915, Se, depois de eu morrer, trans. Jonathan Griffin.