Huge Boundary Crossing
I have an open door policy with my friends. My really close friends are invited to just walk into my home if the door is open. It usually takes a few months for me to extend this invitation to my friends, after plenty of time getting to know them and learning to trust them.
Arcadia was actually the first person I gave this invitation to. When I was married to Bubba, the house we lived in was rather large and I couldn’t hear the doorbell if I was back in my bedroom. I’d told her that if the door is unlocked, just come on in, and holler for me. Now that I’m in my own home, I’m usually in the kitchen and if you come up to my front door, you can see me sitting here. I love when my friends feel comfortable just walking into my house. I don’t extend the invitation lightly so if someone is invited to just come on in, they should know they’ve accomplished a major thing with me.
I’d extended that invitation to Sean after knowing him for a few months. I felt comfortable doing this because he’d shown over and over that he could respect my boundaries and we’d spent so much time together over the summer, just getting to know each other. I’m also very careful with locking my door if I’m going to be getting a shower or changing my clothes.
One night I was heading to bed. I locked the doors and windows, brushed my teeth, put on my pjs (a skimpy tank top and my underwear), said good-night to Serenity, and crawled into bed. I don’t even remember what was wrong that night, but we got into a huge fight. Serenity had been stewing about something and chose right after I turned off my light to talk to me about it. In typical teen fashion, she decided to scream at me and storm out of the house. I knew there would be no sleeping until I knew she was safely back home.
Since it was so late, I decided to just get out of bed and surf the net, never bothering to put pants back on. I’d peeked out the door and saw Serenity sitting on the porch so I knew she was safe. I also knew that she’d calm down and want to talk through whatever she was mad at me about. No big deal, I’d just sit at the kitchen table and maybe do some writing.
I heard the kitchen door open and didn’t look up, assuming it was Serenity. I heard a deep male voice say, “Hey, Hope!” It was Sean. He’d been sitting on his porch and saw Serenity storm out of the house and wanted to check on us. The door was open so he just came in. Only I was sitting there in a skimpy tank top and my underwear! I screamed, “HOLY SHIT! CLOSE YOUR EYES!!!!” He threw his hand up over his eyes and spun around while I went running for my bedroom to put on some pants.
I came back out and I’m pretty sure I was blushing from my hairline to my toes. I was so embarrassed to have been caught sitting in my underwear by Sean. He sat down and made sure we were ok after apologizing for just walking in. I tried to explain that, though I was deeply embarrassed, it was my own fault. I have the open door policy, he’s been invited to use it, and I’d be fine in a few days. Even under the embarrassment, I could see the humor in the situation. I actually thought it was hilarious.
He got up to leave and asked for a hug. I put my face in my hands and told him no because I was just too embarrassed. I was laughing at the time because I tend to laugh when I’m uncomfortable. He took that to mean that I’d already seen the humor and that he’d be fine giving me a hug. He hugged me and I had an instantaneous reaction to it. I immediately pushed him away and in a deep, kinda scary voice said, “I said no. I meant no. Don’t ever touch me if I’ve said no.” I could see the realization of what he’d done wash over Sean’s face. He apologized and walked out the door.
The next evening, Endellion and I decided to drink again. I was sitting on the porch, talking to her on Skype when Sean stopped by. I disconnected with Endellion and told him that it was never ok to touch me if I’d said no. He explained that since I was laughing, he thought I was just playing. I told him that I don’t care what I’m acting like or doing, he needs to pay attention to the words coming out of my mouth. The words are the only thing he should use to gauge whether or not he can touch me.
Then I said something truly nasty to him. I felt horrible. I knew the alcohol loosened my lips but it gave me no excuse to be deliberately mean to Sean. Oh, the look on Sean’s face…..I’ll never forget it. I wounded him so awfully and felt terrible. I tried to apologize but I’d hurt him so badly that he took off.
I tried to apologize the next day. I told Sean I was wrong for what I’d said. I knew he was truly sorry for hugging me after I’d said no. I knew he wouldn’t do it again, yet I attacked him. I had no excuse for what I’d said.
Sean backed way off. Over the next month we barely spoke. When we did, it was just as civil neighbors. I often wondered if we’d ever get past this. We’d hurt each other and I hoped that time would help us get over this.
I was praying that I hadn’t permanently lost him as a friend.