Friday, May 8, 2015
From the Vault: I'm About to Wage War Over My Boundaries
I'm severely pissed off these days.
At my husband. At my 12-year-old daughter. At my thousand-year-old cat. At the government. The list goes on.
I'm sick – sick to death, I tell you! – of feeling disrespected and unappreciated. I cook, I clean, I pick up cat feces that always miss the litter box by just enough. Does anyone thank me? Appreciate me? Treat me with the kindness and compassion I deserve??
And that, of course, is the problem.
No-one can take advantage of you without your permission, my mother often reminded me as I lamented yet another situation from which I couldn't seem to extricate myself.
Of course, like generations of daughters before and yet-to-come, I shrugged it off. After all, what the hell did my mother know?
Turns out, quite a lot. And given her own experience with betrayal, I should definitely have listened a bit more closely to her advice.
If anyone knew boundaries, it was my mother.
Me? Not so much.
But boundaries aren't just for keeping ourselves from volunteering too often at the school bake sale. They're an integral part of healing from betrayal. They're an integral part of living a healthy life.
They are, in fact, like a rulebook for how to live our lives. They remind us that we matter...even when other aren't treating us like we do. Make that especially when others aren't treating us like we do.
Wendy Strgar, whom I've cited on this site before, notes in this blog post that "boundaries are the truest measure of how we love ourselves."
And I haven't been loving myself too well these days (or, come to think of it, ever).
Maybe you haven't been either.
Instead, my boundaries are like Silly String. They're hang in threads...and no-one takes them seriously.
The result, of course, is that I do a whole lot of stuff for everyone else and very little for myself. Which (see above) makes me really pissed off.
Well, I'm tired of feeling pissed off.
So I'm spending some time figuring out where my boundaries are. No easy task. In some cases, they don't exist so I'm creating them. Based on nothing more than a feeling in my gut that advises me whether or not what I'm about to do or say "yes" to makes me feel yucky (that's a technical term).
I can't always feel it. I've become something of an expert at sending that little gut feeling to her room where she's completely silent. And so I'm learning to invite her back out and to offer up her advice.
When I listen, it's usually something like this:
"Why are you picking up your son's backpack when you've told him REPEATEDLY to do it himself. Instead, let him know that if he doesn't put them away himself, it'll be tossed in a bin in the garage. And that's where he can find his homework next time he's looking for it."
Wow. My gut is a bitch you don't want to mess with.
And while I don't want to be a bitch, I do want to be respected. Which is, sometimes, the same thing.