Boundaries for recovery

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. 

63 thoughts on “Boundaries for recovery

  1. This is beautiful. I’m so proud of you. Boundaries are a wonderful thing. I love boundaries. It makes me feel safe and I know what I can do and what I can’t do. It’s very healthy to have boundaries especially with other people. I love the picture at the end. I need to find one that’s a butterfly. It’s a long story, but for you you have the owl for me it’s a butterfly. How you feel about the owl is how I feel about the butterfly. I really enjoyed reading this. I’m smiling. 🙂 I love you. Hugs!


    • I love that you have something that makes you feel the same way my owl makes me feel. A soft butterfly would be comforting. You could put it next to your bed. It could be grounding and serene to hold. I took a picture of a butterfly and I think I put it on my blog somewhere. It was my most favorite picture. I will repost it for you.
      I’m glad this made you smile!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. I am too. I am glad you have the owl. Yeah that sounds good. I’ll have to find one. Yeah I think it will be. Awesome. Yes please do. I’ll save it and keep it. Thank you for doing that. Thank you!


  2. I love the owl. What a thoughtful gift. You are so right about the “loss” of people who won’t respect your boundaries actually being a gain. Good on you for choosing only the healthy relationships.


    • It is just a precious gift isn’t it! That owl was just such a thoughtful gift by someone who I’d only spoken to a few times in the neighborhood. Amazing how just a small act of kindness can really turn things around.
      I appreciate your comment. I’m always glad when someone “gets” what I am trying to say. I always hope it comes across in a way that is understandable. It’s hard because I am always so full of emotion when I write. So thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a TERRIFIC blog post!! You are so right in everything you said here. And it really hits home for me, since I recently set my boundary with the church pastor. It feels like a huge loss, but more than that, it feels like the opportunity for a tremendous gain. We are looking for a new church now and there are so many wonderful churches out there, filled with great people, with pastors who surely won’t go and ask our daughter to commit a federal felony for him on her job at the military base! I mean, it’s good we found out this guy’s true colors. Who needs that??

    Your owl is the perfect gift. Wonderful!


    • Awesome! I am so so glad to hear you are seeing opportunity for gain and looking for a new church home.
      Yes! The owl was such a perfect gift. Just so thoughtful from someone who has only passed me a few times in the neighborhood.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Today’s realization  – Tryingtimes2017

  5. I struggle with boundaries still to this day but not as bad as I used to. You are so correct in that they are needed and they are healthy to have. Reading this reminded me to set more of them up because it can only help me in the end. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am a huge work in progress with boundaries because I didn’t even know I didn’t have them or need them until maybe a year ago. But I have had many realizations since I started putting it into place of how important they were so i wanted to share. Thanks a lot for reading

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This: “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.”

    So much insight in these couple of sentences. It is so true.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a great post! I was immediately drawn in by your opening thought that when you had no self-worth, you had no boundaries. That’s such a great way of putting it, and that’s exactly how it was for me. I wasn’t able to start setting boundaries until I realized that 1.) I was an adult so I could, and 2.) I did not deserve the treatment I was receiving and could stop it by putting up boundaries.

    I also really relate to your feeling of realizing that hey…I get to choose! I get to make decisions about who is in my life and who isn’t, and to what extent! And I’m the only person who gets to make this decision! I’m an ACON (adult child of narcissists) so I spent many years being told what to do. I was well into my 20s before I started really pushing back and setting boundaries.

    Your neighbor sounds awesome. I love the owl. 🙂


    • I’m so happy to read your message. It seems you have figured out just what I have. It was a long time coming for me. It took me until 45 years old, but at least I got there!
      My neighbor was so sweet to give me such a kind gift. It looks just like the real owl that I’ve now been blessed with for 5 months

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I thought this post was great too! and this past weekend I happened to have set some boundaries that I need to maintain ongoing… when others don’t understand them and think we’re being mean or however you’d say that… just gotta let that go, right? I’m learning some environments that aren’t healthy I don’t have to make myself sit through or can bring what I need to make it alright for myself if I do have to even if they may think I am antisocial not being in on what they are doing… Your post about meeting people and if they bring you down or up was eye opening for me and so true! I recently decided to cut things off with a friend that needed to be done… and my neighbor I visit with is so wonderful… I just love how you wrote it, it clicked…
    Your owl can also symbolize all this new wisdom you’re getting and giving to all of us 🙂


    • You and I seem to be experiencing some of the same things. People may thing you are mean, or antisocial, but at some point we just can’t focus on what they think if we are doing what is best for us. I rarely did what was best for me up until this point. Now I am and it is a different world, it really is.
      I’m so glad that what I wrote connected with you. Wishing you the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Bethany,
    I know Susie and Shannon and other people here.
    I have actually blogged about how to have a no thank you list several times.
    I met you at Danny’s blog party. Maybe you can check out my blog. I blog over at My site offers blogging tips. I also host 6 blog parties a month including 2 like Danny where you could meet new readers.


  10. “I choose to be around people who do not make me feel bad about myself after I am around them.”
    This is something I understand abstractly, but have difficulty putting into practice. Thank you for writing this post. I, at least, needed to read this today.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That opening line is EVERYTHING. I couldn’t agree more. For those of us who learned NOT to have boundaries, it’s a huge but important learning curve ahead. Thank you for writing this. Your writing style and voice really resonant with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so so glad. Boundaries are my biggest challenge. I have to work on them daily. I keep working toward recovery. We will keep moving closer to healing and closer and closer!!!!!


    • I read your blog. I reblogged your post. If there is anything you ever want to talk about or share or work through please don’t hesitate to contact me. Most of my followers are survivors of sexual assault and you will see an outpouring of support, validation, and understanding.


      • I had not one doubt the moment I read the words. When he lied multiple times. When you were not taken home. False imprisonment as well.
        Sometimes we deny it to live through it and cope. The truth finds its way to the surface and then we begin the steps of recovery and healing.


  12. I love this post! It’s such a gift discovering boundaries when they’ve been absent in life before hand. I completely agree with you bethanyk – establishing boundaries filters out the time/energy suckers and makes space for healthy, reciprocal and genuinely loving relationships. Who wouldn’t want to follow this path!


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