Friday, November 13, 2009

How do I love thee...


Boundaries



Boy; this was a concept I knew nothing about coming from a superhypermagnifiedhorrendouslydysfunctionalabusive family. 

In fact, if I was going to draw you a picture of myself from back then - my "boundaries" were non existant. In an attempt to conceptualize this try thinking of goo. Slimy, slick, greasy glimy green goo. Goo that would become whatever you wanted it to be - presto! I could become what ever and who ever my environment needed me to be. "Chameleon" doesnt even begin to touch just how "fluid" I was to my environment. (song: "bend me shape me anyway you want me...who sang that??)

But then I begin this wonderful, magnificient journey of healing. I begin to realize that it wasnt "all my fault", that I'm brilliant v. stupid, that I have talents and gifts to offer the world. I begin to "define" myself - who I am, what I like and dont like. What my tolerance level is for unacceptable behavior in others. (Another story another day: why he hits, why she stays and what happens to the children) OOPs; got sidetracked....*blush*

So instead of being the worlds "doormat" and living life as that perpetual victim of circumstances I begin to take care of myself; I say no to things that in the past I might have done because I thought I "should" or "had to". I began to live a life of choice fueled by my own understanding of what I could do. I began to set boundaries.

At first (especially in my family) this hasnt gone over so great (a HUGE understatement). As it turns out - folks who are accustomed to having their way with you dont often appreciate the empowerment you feel when you are able to say NO.

The flip side of this enlightment is that I began to realize just how I had violated the boundaries others had set for themselves. OUCH!


HOW DO I LOVE THEE....

What I realized is that when I respect the boundary someone has set for themselves - I am showing them that I value them as an individual; that I value my relationship with them.

When others respect the boundaries that I set for myself they are demonstrating their love and respect for me.

Bottom line: when we set and respect boundaries we are respecting anothers - and our own - right to determine that they are capable of running their own life, making their own decisions, calling their own shots.

When boundaries are ignored (ok for some it may be more like they were shot down), or questioned (tell me again WHY you did that?), ridiculed (boy that was stupid) or any number of other violations - what we are in effect saying LOUD AND CLEAR is that "you cannot manage your own life and if you would just do what I say you would be ok, that wouldnt have happened etc etc etc. YOU ARE INCAPABLE.

But - when boundaries are respected and supported what we are saying is I TRUST YOU TO MAKE THE BEST DECISIONS FOR YOU. You are capable.

Boundaries. Not just a line in the sand but the defining magic of self.


How has establishing clear boundaries in your life affected your self esteem and/or healing journey? What are some boundaries you have chose to set that you had not had in the past? How did friends and family react?


2 comments:

Ellen said...

Hi Susan,
I usually stayed far away from people - distance was my boundary. Now I'm learning to have people in my life, and able to tell them when to leave :-)

Cheers,
Ellen

Susan said...

Thanks for stopping by Ellen! I so appreciate what you have to say and --- ME TOO! My old way of coping was also to avoid which made me feel more isolated. Learning how to set boundaries and be ok with it has been hugely empowering to me too.