When I had no boundaries, I had no self-worth. I did not value myself. Creating boundaries means telling people no. It means holding someone accountable for hurting me and not letting them do it again. I have found that people prefer the Bethany that had no boundaries. The one that just let anyone say anything. The one that turned into mush when someone cut her down because that is what she was programmed to do. I’m not that person anymore. So I get judged for not allowing anyone to judge me. I’ve “changed.” With a negative connotation, those people wil say. Those who would crush me any chance they got, and I allowed for my lifetime. If I stand up for myself, and if I place worth on myself and demand that worth be upheld by others, they don’t like it. At least not the people who are used to me being a doormat.
Boundaries are critical for recovery. Those who cannot respect them and be proud of you for having them are not worthy of being in your life anyway. Boundaries will weed out individuals that are hindering the healing process. Boundaries will lead to empowerment. Those who love you will want you to be empowered. They will encourage and commend these new boundaries.
They will see the growth, hear your voice, and stand with you as you shout it to the world.
Is this person helping or hindering? Building or breaking down? Questioning or validating? Take stock. Evaluate. Be mindful of the people that surround you. That is what I am working on so I thought I would share it.
Weeding out the bad has allowed room for the good.
I met a friend for dinner last night that I’ve only seen once in person in the last 2 years. I met a new neighbor who left me such a kind gift. I know that others have struggles and another’s struggle has no bearing on if I keep them in my life or not. How they treat me is. I can sit with a friend and we can unload our burdens and feel uplifted and heard. If I sit with someone and walk away feel exhausted, frustrated, and just used then this is not part of my healing plan.
Yesterday I went for a walk. I met someone that has lived down the road from me for 12 years, for the first time. I only spoke to her for 5 minutes. I walked away from her feeling rejuvenated, happy, and with a warmth in my heart. There was a comfortable feeling just talking with her, and when I left, I felt at ease. I ran into someone else in the neighborhood that I spoke to for 5 minutes. I walked away from her feeling drained, agitated, and judged. Two separate 5 minute conversations left me feeling two completely different ways. What if those two people were in my daily life. One would zap me, one would uplift me. I am aware now in ways I was not before of how another person makes me feel. Whether it is their intention or not, I choose to be around people who do not make me feel bad about myself after I am around them. You actually get to choose. I get to choose. I never thought I could. I thought I had to stay friends with one person if she had been in my life for 10 years, or I had to be in constant contact with a cousin that I made me feel awful. It was an obligation directly related to my lack of boundaries.
Being mindful has opened my eyes to what boundaries can bring. In those boundaries have come growth, strength, and empowerment. But like I said, not everyone likes someone who has boundaries. I used to be the one EVERYBODY loved. I don’t need to be loved by unkind people just to have the outward satisfaction of being able to say those words, that everyone loves me. I think it is pretty safe to say some people downright dislike me now. They don’t like that I have broken free of the rules put upon me decades ago. They don’t like what I reveal about myself and how others have impacted me through their abuse. But that is just not my problem. Someone else’s lack of being accountable is not my problem.
I would rather have boundaries and have a handful of wonderful loving people in my life, than have no boundaries and have a thousand. Those thousand are just a number that when it came down to the depth of despair one can go through would jump ship in two minutes.
My cousin told me the other day that, in a nutshell, I was going to lose the last few family members I have left by pushing them away with my boundaries. If telling someone I will not allow them to hurt me means I will lose another family member then that is perfectly fine with me. What she does not know is that I do not just have a few family members left. I have my father’s entire side of the family that have given me unconditional love, as I have them. And, as I have been told by those who love me, family is not always what you are born in to. I have fellow bloggers as friends who I love immensely. I have friends in my neighborhood who I feel genuinely loved by. I have a handful of friends who would walk through fire for me, and have. So I don’t need threats of loss. I know loss. Real loss. The loss of my cousin Randy who loved me like he was my father. The loss of my Nana who loved me like her own daughter. The loss of my dog who was my constant companion. I don’t consider it loss if it is someone who is just waiting to hurt me anyway. I don’t consider it loss if it is someone is ready to bait and pounce and get their two cents in with no regard to the pain it causes me. I don’t consider those people a loss. I consider that…a gain! It puts things in perspective when a person walks out of your life and you consider it a gain instead of a loss.
So yes, boundaries do have consequences. Hopefully those consequences will lead to new friendships, a space that feels safe, and empowerment. You may lose a few people on the way, but they weren’t worth it anyway.
The gift given to my by the neighbor was this little stuffed animal owl that I will cherish forever.