Sunday, March 7, 2010

Boundaries 101 ~ A Course for Neptunians

© 2010 by Joyce Mason

This post is timely, now that both Jupiter and the Sun are in Pisces, the sign ruled by Neptune. The subject of this post isn’t just boundaries, a topic most Neptunians need to learn more about; it’s about boundaries and humor (Jupiter).

I have the blessing/curse of a strong Neptune. If you have several planets in Pisces, the 12th house, or numerous aspects to Neptune—come to my class! While I relish my intuitive abilities, artistic eye, and think compassion is one of my best characteristics, there’s the downside.

At times in my life, I really knew how to spell victim (J-o-y-c-e). Since I also have a fairly large dose of Pluto, you can only imagine the high drama that was my daily fare until I matured enough to handle this astrological load.

All Dreams Are Neptunian … But This One Takes the Fog

Recently I had a dream that almost made my hair stand on end. Without going into all the gory details, here’s the short version.

I was given the bum’s rush by a man I met at my dad’s dentist office. “Mr. Rush” followed us home and was acting too familiar with me from the moment he crossed the threshold—where I would have stopped him in waking life. After 24 hours of being charmed, I was alarmed when he crossed my invisible line--blatantly. I told him, “Too much, too fast, too soon.” There was much more to it, including a later scene where I learned he had a hidden identity. He was not what he seemed at all, and he was stalking me. In the finale, he made an actual attempt to harm me physically. He set me up by “fogging” my house with dry ice, like people do when they’re making a Halloween spook house. I ran to the nearest (I thought) safe place where he was lying in wait, weapon in hand.

Although it ended well (my brother arrived, ran to call the police, and I knew I’d be saved), this dream scared me into a review of where I stand with boundary issues.

In all honesty, I can only give myself a C+/B-. I’ve gotten much better with chronic offenders and their behavior I usually let go on too long without calling them on crossing the line. My tolerance time is shorter, and I’m more attuned to things not “feeling right.” When I state my boundaries clearly and people continue to cross them, I sever the relationship. It takes too much life force to fight “energy theft” which goes on under the table, when the other person is either in denial or oblivious to the transaction. These encounters remind me of a line from The Desiderata: Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

Aggression is not always loud. It is sometimes quiet and so subtle, it slips all notice until you are in a state of advanced vexation. I do not deserve to be vexed by people who bite my neck and suck my energy. Neither do you.

Close Encounters of the Icky Kind

The same morning I woke up with this dream, I had a close encounter of the negative Neptunian kind, although it was a much milder one compared to my dramatic dream. These are one-act plays in real life. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to handle them.

It happened at the grocery store. The bag clerk was a young woman who made some teasing remarks that didn’t sit right with me. I didn’t think her banter was funny. Anyone who has ever encountered a bully knows that teasing can be cruel. It is only sweet if done with great affection, care, and knowledge of the recipient.

Teasing humor is only appropriate between intimates. To kid somebody without hurting them, you have to know their buttons, touch them, but love them enough not to push.

I didn’t know this kid in the grocery store from Adam. I figure, to allow entrée for that kind of ribbing, I should at least know her name. She could have tromped all over my buttons and left me bloody. On an energetic level, I felt like I’d just been slimed.

When the older checkout clerk picked up that her sidekick’s remarks didn’t land well, she said, “She’s just messin’ with ya.”

“Whatever,” I said, not sweetly.

“In the best possible way,” the older, wiser one tried to intervene.

Intervention should have not been necessary. This young woman’s mother, sister, teacher—someone should have taught her that certain kinds of humor are not for strangers you just met in the grocery store. Or am I being too Virgo/ hypersensitive? I don’t think any regular reader of this blog would question that I have a sense of humor.

One of the ironies in this encounter is that I did not hear completely what the young woman said to me, but I definitely got the vibe. The older woman’s comment that her workmate was “messin’ with me” confirmed that my radar was working even if the noise level blurred some of the particulars. I’m relieved that I’ve stopped doubting my intuition in these instances. I can’t count the times in the past I have been fogged and convinced myself “it was just me.” Later, after unwitting participation in prolonged, anguished, and underground game-playing, I’d discover that I’d read the situation clearly in the first place. I just buried the truth in self-doubt.

I find the assumption of instant intimacy to be very passive-aggressive. There used to be a euphemism for unwanted sexual advances—getting too familiar. Presumed intimacy, whether sexual or psychic, feels like a violation.

There’s a woman I encounter regularly who got off on the wrong foot with me by this kind of joking from the first day I met her. I watch her do it to others and wince. I can barely stand to be around her and avoid her like the plague. She also does the other thing I can’t abide that I consider so passive-aggressive. She “tells on you.” If there’s something you do that annoys her, she’ll be sure to announce it with thinly veiled sarcastic humor, only when she has an audience. Of course, she can always claim—and usually does, that she was “just kidding.”

Apparently you don’t know how to kid properly. We aren’t both laughing. ~Ellen DeGeneres

Let’s Hear Your Tips on Busting Negative Neptune

I am really at a loss how to deal with some of these folks. Do I have to be willing to make a scene? “Be snotty,” that thing my Mom couldn’t stand in me when I was a mouthy kid who didn’t know any better? The possibility of being utterly honest reminds me of a tagline for a long defunct Sacramento-area weekly newspaper.

Tell the truth and shame the devil. ~ Slogan, Suttertown News

Maybe I just have to state my truth politely. If bad feelings follow, join the party. I already feel bad! I hate to risk a confrontation in the grocery store or at a meeting. Is there a more elegant way? Is it worth the potential discomfort with a stranger or mere acquaintance?

In the same way I don’t know some of these women well enough for their teasing “humor;” I wonder if I know them well enough to tell them how much their behavior offends me. If I did, would it fall on deaf ears and cost me a large, worrying energy expenditure that would, once again, leave me feeling sucked dry?

Living in integrity is not as easy as it sounds. Neither is living with a chunk of chalk where you have to keep drawing your line, especially in the nebulous, intuitive, energy realms.

Neptunian types, by our very nature, are more open at subtle energy levels and draw “inappropriate advances.” For our own mental health, we simply have to learn how to identify and deflect them.

A coda to the story: Before I took offense to the bag clerk, we had a conversation about my bring-along bags and how the insulated one was great for all frozen foods or those that need refrigeration. After I had drawn my line, she put all those kinds of items in the flimsiest, non-insulated bag I had brought. I laughed internally but chose not to react. More accurately, I was rolling my eyes to myself but refused take the bait. If only I had been quick enough on the uptake to do that the first time—or had heard that great line by Ellen DeGeneres before, instead of after this encounter. Ellen showed me yet another option—fight Jupiter with Jupiter, "humor" with humor.

The Radical Virgo knows there’s no “right” answer on this one, but she welcomes a conversation in the Comments about how you handle boundaries and interactions that go too far into your psychic space without permission. Together, we can create the class—and with our synergy, maybe we’ll come up with some classy solutions.




LB said...

Hi Joyce – Oh boy, does this post ever speak to me. My comment is long because I’ve had a lot of experience dealing with these issues. It makes sense with transiting Mars retrograde that certain people would be expressing their hostility in more disguised “passive” ways.

I find it ironic with my natal Pluto (in the 12th) square natal retrograde Mars (in the 9th) that this aspect is frequently described as “projecting”, when more often than not, I’m the one on the receiving end of others’ passive aggressive and/or bullying energies. The best description I’ve ever read of Mars retrograde was that we have an ability to pick up on the subtle energies (including negative ones) coming from others. Very true.

I also have my Mercury/Jupiter/Neptune conjunct in Scorpio (on the 3rd), square my Aquarius Moon (in the 5th) and my Leo Uranus in the 12th, so I’m very sensitive to psychic impressions. Bombarded might be a better word. I’ve learned over the years how to be more discriminating in my choices, but not how to avoid picking up on the energies.

I’m sorry you had this kind of interaction, just as I’m sorry to hear when those in positions of authority don’t get it, and fail to provide the kind of back-up they should. Had I been the supervisor of that employee, I’d have explained to them that their behavior was both inappropriate and unacceptable.

When it happens with strangers, it’s probably best to ignore and not make it our problem, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. I’m learning that with certain people, I must hold myself in reserve, else they mistake my kindness for weakness, and “attack”. And in certain situations, it may even be helpful to call the person out on their behavior by asking them (be sure to use a calm, low, confident voice) exactly what they meant to say. If their response is that they were only joking, I think we should feel free to tell them that we don’t find it funny, and must ask them to refrain from such comments in the future, then leave it at that. Most passive-aggressive people continue to treat people the way they do because they can.

Of course, with my Mars retrograde, I only get it right about half the time. Usually I’m so taken aback, that I don’t say anything – it takes me time to process. The one thing that never works though is to respond angrily, since that’s usually the response that feeds the other person’s dark, hungry hole and is just the kind of reaction they’re hoping for. I think most people who engage in this type of behavior just want other people to feel as bad as they do – which is not an excuse.

I’m looking forward to others’ readers responses. Thanks Joyce, for bringing up the topic.

Joyce Mason said...

Thanks, LB, for sharing your experiences! I used to let these encounters really get to me to the point of stewing on them for days and weeks ... even in a case like I describe in this post, where I'm likely never to see the person again. I now can let it go much faster. If it's someone I have to see on a regular basis, that's another story that needs all your Neptune 101 suggestions. They're great and I appreciate the share, as I'm sure other readers will, too. Telling us your astro-signatures helps readers learn more about whether they, too, are prone to underground communication. What resonates to me is that the most aggressive repeat offenders of this kind of behavior really do need to be called out on it. Reminds me of one of my favorite expressions from the late, great advice columnist, Ann Landers, "Don't complain you're a doormat if you let people walk all over you."

Donna Cunningham, MSW said...

I love this article, Joyce. I have two friends that I socialize with together. One of them can tease me and I laugh delightedly, but when the other one teases me, I snarl and then obsess about it for days. the one I can laugh with has her Mars in Leo conjunct mine. The one I want to smack has a nasty Mars in Scorpio square my Mars.

If a stranger "teases" you, it's not humor, it's attack. They just get to call it a joke so you're not entitled to take offense.


Joyce Mason said...

Donna, thanks for your candid response. Quite honestly, I obsessed over whether or not to post this article, but the "loud" dream gave me no choice! It's time that people acknowledge this kind of insidious behavior. I especially appreciate your contrast of your two friends and how their planets Mars interact with yours. Thanks, again, for sharing your wisdom and experience.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joyce:

Interesting article for which I do not have any practical advice on boundaries issues being afflicted with them myself (Mars in cancer sq Sun and part of a grand trine with Neptune in Scorpio and Mercury in Pisces.
However your article brought up for some that this is also a cultural issue. Being a foreigner of French background living in the US, I can attest that the attitude your describe in the post is very "American". The formality of French people and Europeans in general would not be conducive to this kind of situation even among the younger generation.
Very often I use this formality to my advantage in those kind of "sticky" situations while I build up some boundaries muscle.


Joyce Mason said...

Excellent point, Fabienne! There are huge differences in what's acceptable from one culture to the next in terms of personal boundaries. I have traveled in Europe with astrologers from around the world, where I've gotten a glimpse of how Americans are perceived in some places.(It's not pretty). I've also seen how some Americans feed into that bad impression. (It was embarrassing to be around those who further the stereotype of the "ugly American.") IMHO, it is self-centered and rude not to learn the most basic cultural mores of a place before visiting. Some simple thing you normally do can be an insult if you don't know the local rules. As to building muscle about boundaries, I say use anything you can to your advantage until it's easy for you to draw the line with offenders.

Bstar1153 said...

I have Neptune rising with the Moon not far behind in 12th in Libra with Mars Libra in the 12th. So....I have struggled with passive agression all my life as a doer and receiver. As a recovering addict I have to try to be as honest as I can in all my affairs so that has helped to become in tune with my irritations, annoyances etc and voice them.

My boundary story concenrs a co worker (in a job I just begun with teens in treatment) who would make comments about me and my competence. Since the girls could get out of control, we had a ratio of 1 staff to 3 girls. She would say things like, sure you can handle this? when only 1 girl would be in the facility. Her sidekick would cackle appreciatively. Finally after a couple of times, I said, 'that sounds like a cut.' She said "what" and I said her comments were not appreciated --and I felt she was ridiculing me. Oh no, she replied, never would I hurt another human being, as she is a 'spiritual, evolved soul' who smokes cigarettes. But of course she always said it in front of her sidekick staff and not those who would know her game.

She said she was sorry and I said I would accept that. Later I overhead her she did say that it was my interpetation, not her words, that caused the to do. She wanted to define my boundaries! (I don't work there anymore.)

This experience taught me to take my power back, Pluto, and confront those who 'tease' to remedy their own feelings of worthlessness. It was a very difficult thing to do also--way too much Libra in me-- I could feel the energy rising in me, wanting release and if I had not said something that day, the next episode would have been explosive. I stopped her from making inappropriate, demeaning comments to me. She's a bully and I finally stood up to her and have stood up to several bullies since.

One co worker would raise her voice as if in anger when I asked her a question so I just started doing the same back. She stopped bullying too.

I come from an alcoholic family and boundaries are totally skewed which means there are none. I work with alcoholics/addicts too so this is always an issue. (Pisces on the 6th)

You are right, it is important to check our radar and if something doesn't feel right, it is probably an invasion. You know, sometimes I just ride over the intrusion and the negative energy is absorbed or deflected without making a dent.
Thats when it is so awesome. I do not give them any power over me, a Plutonian thing. I do not give my power away, another Plutonian thing. I am a Scorpio. But no matter, all signs have personal power.

I read in one of Dane Rhudyards books once to try to have the brightest light possible so that arrows of dark negativity are just burned up in the light. That's a good approach too if one can keep up the energy.

Love your blog, will visit again,

Much appreciation and warm regards, Kathleen

Joyce Mason said...

Kathleen, thank you for the visit and for sharing your personal challenges and courses of action with boundary issues. You have done a great job of working with the ongoing challenges of your astro-make-up in this regard. I am impressed and so grateful to you for providing a model and insights for others. The bonus is about Pluto. We often forget that the positive of Pluto is the ability to sit squarely in your own power and encourage others to do the same. (The evolved Plutonian can do this without decimating! :) T-Pluto is currently conjunct my Moon, and it has been interesting to watch myself reclaim my power in so many situations. Another power is the power of the Internet to share successful ways we handle life. You're a blessing on the page!

Thanks again,

mataharifilms said...

Dear Joyce, I just caught up with this, thanks for writing it.

Maybe it's too late to comment but I feel moved to write anyway. I have Chiron in Pisces, as well as 5 planets in Aquarius, Saturn, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter - four of them in the 12th. Lots of Sun/Neptune and Sun/Saturn.

Your comments about the Pisces Chiron are spot on for me: profound childhood trauma via the parents, incest via the sister, drug and alcohol addiction, longing for ecstatic union with the universe (sex), and BIG boundary issues all through my life (maybe Scorpio moon adds a lot of juice to this mixture.)

Anyway, I wanted to say something about my unreconstructed parents who, I eventually learned, cannot be expected voluntarily to acknowledge my boundaries, having none of their own in their wounded areas. My mother is dead now, but twenty years ago i needed to detach from her completely. She didn't respect this. I was an actor at the time. One night after a show she came into my dressing room with a group of her friends who i didn't even know, uninvited, unannounced, unwelcome. An actor's dressing room is a sacred space, a safe, private, innermost sanctum. Her transgression of this boundary gave me the opportunity (almost as though unconsciously she arranged for it) to blast her with primal anger out of the room. I literally shut the door behind her. It was a primal reaction, i had no time to intellectualize or feel guilt or fear of consequences. Happily there was healing - much later.

And just now in the present moment, I am living with the fallout from a situation with my father and stepmother. She came into my house, made a nasty scene, then went to my father and totally misrepresented what happened, attributing to me her own bizarre behaviour. My father took her part against me, and for 2 years i have been holding my boundary and refusing to allow my truth to be obliterated.

When people come into my own sacred space and spray their toxic sludge around, i have no time to THINK and so I go into primal, protective, alpha-defense-mode. Not to mention defense of my wife, who, as they well know, is recovering from breast cancer and needs peace. Now, finally, it's time to detach from my father and stepmother too. Whoever else they happen to be, these are sick people bringing madness into my family's quiet centre.

And somehow, in both stories (I'm 49, approaching my Chiron return?), it feels like the parents have colluded unconsciously to give me the unmissable opportunity to end the madness once and for all. I guess the healing journey is different for everyone, but there's a slice of mine.

Matthew x

Anne said...

Dear Joyce,

Thank you! We Neptunian types need this advice and reinforcement.

We need also to remember that it's a basic human right to say "no". "No" may not be the most popular answer but it is a perfectly valid one. Especially when it is said audibly, firmly and without any explanations.

Best regards,

Anne (Neptune rising).

Joyce Mason said...

Matthew, thank you for sharing such a deeply personal story and how sometimes we have to cut our losses with those we love most for our own well-being. I admire your courage greatly.

I hope you'll consider participating in my Chiron research. The link with details is on my website, and I am just adding it on the sidebar of The Radical Virgo. I'll be very curious to hear how your Chiron Return will play out for you.

Keep on healing on,

mataharifilms said...

Thanks for the acknowledgement Joyce. I like what Anne said after me very much too! Turns out my progressed sun is on Pisces 29 just now. Quite a time all in all. Anyway, i will check out the Chiron Research Project. x