Do any of you have problems with setting boundaries? My brother introduced me to the book Boundaries last year as I was facing three large life changes in the course of a month. Through counseling, I identified last year that I lacked the ability to set boundaries and as a result was surrounded by individuals who took my contributions, intelligence, and love for granted.
I remember during the Spring of 2014 being introduced to the concepts of boundaries by my counselor and brother and realized that I failed to set boundaries. I had a fear of being alone and was surrounded by toxic circumstances. I don't claim to be an expert in this field. I often fail at training people who "love me" to treat me appropriately. Sometimes I still fail at this and settle sometimes. I realize that I have a hard time setting boundaries out of fear of abandonment. I have not lived in truth in decades. I am writing this to help me process everything and hope that my experiences help someone else.
Many of you know that during the past year I have been blessed through a year of transition and many life lessons. After a 17 year relationship, I found myself in the middle of an ugly divorce and the hurts surrounding such a traumatic circumstance. As a result, I had to relocate to an urban environment for the first time to start a new life. I started a new job and managed to complete all three events within a week period. I became a recluse in the fall. Part of this I now know was due to the shock and grief the Summer of 2014 presented.
I became engrossed in the new demands of single parenthood, taking care of my kids' emotional needs. On top of all of this I managed to complete my PhD coursework, and passions related to my creative loves, my escape.
Unfortunately, these same issues were presented to me again in a new format early this spring. I have had to let a lot of people go this last year, realizing that once again I had allowed abuse. I recognized it this spring. It is so easy for me to get in the habit of letting people walk all over me and tolerate wrong doings. I was raised in a Christian home, with the model "turn the other cheek", which is still important, but it is unhealthy to tolerate behavior that hurts you. It was presented to me in counseling this spring that I have three large issues to consider.
- I cannot do everything ALONE. It is tempting to withdraw when you remove yourself from an environment of toxic relationships. It is important to meet new people and I had failed to do this. I have only surrounded myself with coworkers. I was given the task to join meetup groups and single organizations to work on that. This has helped me tremendously as I am now building a support group.
- It is OK to tell people NO. When you set a boundary people will respond negatively. In fact, they may attempt to use guilt, attack you, or manipulate to get their way. This is ok. It will be uncomfortable but in the end you will learn how to demonstrate self-respect.
- If you feel confused about an issue, you are usually being manipulated. If you don't confront the issue, it will get worse.
- Setting boundaries brings awareness surrounding an ISSUE. It will cause conflict. Setting a boundary provides a platform for you to present the responsibility for a wrong.
- Setting boundaries is a risk. You may loose someone or something you care about. That is OK because you will feel stronger knowing that you stood up for yourself. You can't heal without pain. Pain is a precursor to resolution from emotional abuse after years of denial.
- Identify a safe person who can give you another set of eyes to keep you in check. You may have reach out of your circle to help you. This person must be able to look at issues and relationships honestly to help you confirm that this is a boundary issue.
- Use specific events and examples when setting a boundary. Be prepared that others may manipulate the situation to shift blame, play the victim, lie, or deny.
- Trust in God's universal love. Your spirit matters and believe that you create your own destiny.
I realize that I am on a journey of self-discovery and healing this summer. Grateful to my friends and family who are helping me grow spiritually this year. Thankful to those this spring who were placed in my life to remind me of the importance of setting boundaries because I still mess up. Learning to set these boundaries is a spiritual and learning process. I sometimes still feel uncomfortable and realize that it takes practice. However, the feeling of self worth and self respect you give yourself is so worth it.