It’s all a part of the process

Post by Laura Summers for the Love for Love series.

image courtesy of Joel Penner on Flickr

“Boundaries represent awareness, knowing what the limits are and then respecting those limits.”
? David W. Earle

It sounds strange, but there is something ultimately freeing about setting boundaries. Unfortunately I learned to set boundaries in all the wrong ways. My boundaries were just walls with a fancier name. Constructed out of fear and built to keep me apart from others, walls allowed me to perpetuate the myth that I could trust no one but myself. A lifetime of thinking and behaving as if everyone I meet will employ their ability to hurt me has been no small feat to overcome.

Trust is not something that comes naturally to me, especially in a romantic relationship. Therefore I must be extremely diligent in my practice to recognize, acknowledge, and master my subconscious thoughts. That is not to say I don’t have extremely bad days. Ohhhhhh my gosh, do I have bad days. In fact, this past year was just 365 bad days strung together.

There is no special magic to this setting boundaries, save it be that you have to re-set and re-set, and re-set them sometimes. Yes, it’s exhausting. Yes, it’s tedious. Yes, it’s easier to let it slide. But once you’ve set (and re-set) them you’ll find that folks start respecting the limits you’ve set for yourself. It’s not always an earth shattering boundary that needs to be defined, but sometimes it DEFINITELY is. Learn the difference between the boundaries set to keep your day-to-day sanity, and boundaries that are a means to ensure your immediate physical and emotional safety. I believe sometimes they can and will be the same.

For me setting boundaries is a process that starts with forgiveness. Forgiving myself for allowing behaviors that are not consistent with what I envision for a healthy me. Forgiving others for the behaviors I have allowed them to believe are appropriate to be in a relationship with me. Perhaps the MOST difficult part of that process is not getting tangled up in that nasty place where you convince yourself of your own innocence while simultaneously condemning another.

Once you’ve established that your own behavior may not have been operating at peak performance, you are able to more fully take part in the catharsis that comes from owning your shit. One you’ve owned your shit, you can start to behave more appropriately in the future. People, we all have baggage. (Some of us have a matching 20-piece set. Ahem.) None among us are immune to saying something hurtful to someone we care about. None of us are innocent of behaving in a way inconsistent with the story we tell about ourselves. It is sometimes the smallest infractions of character that do the most damage. If you cross the boundary, apologize, and expect others to do the same.
It’s possible others will not apologize. In that case, you will have to establish a healthy boundary that allows you to continue to be kind, but guarded about the amount of energy you allow yourself to take on from an unhealthy person or situation. Accept the apology you didn’t get and love yourself enough to say, “This no longer works for me.”

Finding that honesty was ALWAYS the best policy and that forgiveness is a gift she strives to live in line with those values. 

Mama to a college quarterback and a rescue pup, she finds joy in a touchdown pass and go fetch. 

Ever working on improving herself, she’ll finally have that bachelors degree in the Spring.

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