Paranoia: Your Boundaries, Your House

An increased level of Paranoia can be a symptom of Narcissistic abuse. It can be a symptom of just being around Narcissists for any length of time as well. Most people tend to forget that "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you" is actually true. When we start to lose our confidence in our instincts about our own safety, we can become paranoid because our natural boundaries "alerts" aren't working well. When we trust our ability to DISCERN whether a person is neutral, benevolent or malevolent, we have no need for extra suspicion.

We don't normally assume someone is doing something to betray or hurt us with very little evidence, because we don't have fear that we'll be tricked. BUT when we keep having to deal with specific people who DO try to trick us, of course our level of suspicion is going to increase. When we keep having to deal with specific people who treat us like we're naive, stupid, or below them in some way, of course we will increase our suspicion levels. When we betrayed over and over, when we are disrespected repeatedly, when we are lied to, stolen from, ridiculed, or backstabbed over and over, our natural, NORMAL response would be to increase our level of vigilance, raise our boundaries, and be more watchful and suspicious.

This turns into "paranoia" when we find that we have lost trust and confidence in our OWN abilities to keep ourselves safe.

Our boundaries are our natural borders, the "lines" that keep ourselves within ourselves, and keeps the rest of the world OUTSIDE. We are who we are, and we know this when we have healthy boundaries. Other people are who THEY are, and we know this, too. We are like houses unto ourselves; what is within our house walls is safely inside. What is outside is clearly outside, and not inside. We can open the doors and windows when we so choose, but we can CLOSE them when we so choose as well; we are the sole proprietors, the owner, the person in charge. WE ALONE are in charge of when those doors or windows open and close, and what we have indoors. Everything inside our house is ours alone, and we are completely in charge of all of it. No one else is, no one. When we want to invite someone "in", we decide if they are allowed only in the yard, or on the porch. Someone we feel comfortable with because they have shown they are trustworthy, we might let in to the foyer. Someone else we trust we might invite to sit in the parlor for tea. A person we really trust because they have EARNED our trust over time and with their actions, we might invite in to spend time with us.

When we deal with people who don't RESPECT our natural, personal boundaries, they cross our lines.
Using our House picture, a person who doesn't respect our boundaries does things like bang on the door, or keep ringing the bell.

They may walk in without being invited, or being let in.

They may pick locks, or climb through windows.

They may act like they are trustworthy enough so that we let them in willingly, and then rob us when we're not looking.

They may come in and insult our furniture, our decor, the way we keep our things, the way we clean or don't clean.

They may come in and insult and criticize the work or projects we have going on.

They may try to rearrange our furniture, or try to tell us we should remodel the kitchen.

They may try to dictate what kinds of pets we should have, or not have.

They may come in, only to verbally or physically abuse us.

They may refuse to leave.

They may try to convince us that we should MOVE OUT of our OWN HOUSE, give it up, leave it behind, and move in with them. They may say our house is not good enough, or safe, or well-built, and that we should not take it seriously.

They may try to convince us that THE HOUSE IS NOT REALLY OUR OWN HOUSE. That we are not the real owners. That maybe THEY are the real owners.

If they have a hard time convincing us of these things (getting us to move out, give up our House, or believe our House isn't good) and/or if they think we figured out what they were doing, they may go outside and tell all the other Homeowners in the neighborhood false things about our House, and about what we do inside, and about who we really are, so all those other Homeowners will start to stare and wonder, and start to behave like they don't want your House in their Neighborhood.

So, if we have been dealing with individuals like this who don't respect our boundaries repeatedly, then we will of course start locking our windows and doors. We will close the curtains, we will install an alarm system. We may find ourselves peeking through the blinds and the peephole at anyone who comes near us (our House).

When our level of suspicion becomes overwhelming, we may start to forget about watching each person separately, as individual people, and we may forget who we are sure we can trust. We may stop going through the process of LEARNING WHO we can trust.

We may become so overwhelmed with suspicion that we start to suspect those who ARE trustworthy, who have shown genuine  respect and care toward us. We may suspect anyone we see coming near our House. We may start to wonder anxiously what others are DOING, what they're THINKING, and WHY they do or don't do things. We may be FEARFUL that they are going to do the same things that the others did who disrespected our boundaries, and look for evidence that they have betrayed us in order to protect ourselves.

Instead of being confident that we know when to open and close our doors and windows, we stop trusting our own judgment, so we lock them all the time. Because we are overwhelmed, we stop believing in our own ability to deal with normal human interaction. We may accuse those who we formerly trusted of being traitors, even if they have done nothing of the sort. In this way, we start to close ourselves in as an effort to protect ourselves, but we don't realize that we have stopped going outside and enjoying the sunshine, and we have stopped our visits and connections with others that were a large part of our happiness.

In order to heal ourselves so we can feel safe, secure, and "normal" again, we need to look to ourselves first. It is helpful to fact-check ourselves, our beliefs, and the actual course of events. Did we create a story about someone that's not true, just to feel right about our suspicious feelings? Are we going over the actual events, re-reading emails, messages, and letters? Are we able to speak directly to the person we're accusing of betrayal, or are we just trying to make ourselves feel strong and safe by bullying them and accusing them?
Do we really want to drive this person away? Or are we seeing how far we can push them? What happens if we push them too far? Why aren't we thinking about how our accusations are affecting or hurting them?
It can help tremendously to go over events carefully from all the different people in our lives. When we become overwhelmed, it's normal for us to need to ground ourselves by objectively reviewing what is really, truly happening, and what has really actually happened.

Our own ability to interact safely and respectfully with others is the key to healing. Being confident that we are the true sole proprietors of our own House, and that we only let in who we want to let in, not who comes banging at the door, or lays on the doorbell, or demands to be let in. Certainly not who tries to get the neighborhood to go along with turning on us. Certainly not who picks the locks or climbs through windows. And we can and should and DO kick out whoever we let in, who bullies us, insults us, or takes our things. We SHOULD NOT try to harm them in any way, ever, and if we need help kicking them out, we should find someone to help us right away. When we feel confident again in our own ability to DEAL WITH ACTUAL trespassers, the right way, we will once again feel confident in our ability to decide who to trust, and how far to let them in.