Today’s blog is a break from my life story and I decided to talk about Boundaries.
What is a boundary? It’s what we put in place to protect ourselves. For example our own “personal space” is a boundary. Expecting others to be respectful to you is a boundary. Boundaries begin forming at a very young age and in healthy environments they get established and respected. Parents are responsible for teaching their children to not only respect the boundaries of others, but to respect their own boundaries.
What happens if this didn’t take place when you were a child? For me, I didn’t have a problem respecting others boundaries, but I had no clue of what my own were. This led to me not being able to say no to people and oftentimes I was taken advantage of because of this.
I thought saying no to others would mean that they wouldn’t like me anymore. I was so afraid of offending people or having them leave me that I would tolerate intolerable Behaviour. I would sacrifice what I wanted and needed if it conflicted with someone else.
This attitude really hasn’t served me well to date. I was way too permissive of a parent and I endured a lot of unhealthy relationships that were toxic to me. When I began to understand that I needed to set boundaries if I was ever going to take control of my life, I was terrified at first to implement them.
What’s worked for me is to start with baby steps. I decided that i wasn’t going to be always available at the drop of a hat if people needed something from me. For example, my sister used to think nothing of phoning me up the night before and saying “I’m coming to the city tomorrow and i need you to take me here and there”. The old me would have said “ok” without even considering what other plans I might have made because I thought I was obligated to do what she needed me to do. But the me with boundaries said the last time, “I’m sorry, I have plans already. I can’t take you”. What a difficult thing to say and I cringed waiting for her response. She quickly hung up the phone and to be honest, our relationship pretty much ended that day.
Now initially I was distraught that she was angry with me and I tried to reach out and mend things, but met with constant rejection. I was at a point in my therapy where we were getting rid of toxic people in our lives and this relationship was definitely toxic. This was four years ago and I’ve only seen her a couple of times since. She didn’t come to my wedding (my one and only one) and I chose not to attend her third one. We just happened to have come from the same parents but our relationship was always toxic and I felt bullied by her most of my life.
My example is a bit extreme and it had more to do with her than with me. It didn’t stop me from putting in boundaries in other areas of my life and although I still struggle with maintaining them, my life is better with having them. The people who really love you and want the best for you will understand and respect them. The only person controlling how others continue to treat you is you.