I didn’t used to feel I had a right to have healthy boundaries. People were free to treat me badly and I would still remain in a friendship, relationship or marriage with them. I see that I enabled this behaviour by allowing it. I was not a victim, though I believed I was for many years. I spent a lot of time feeling bewildered by the unkindness of friends and partners towards me. But by not asserting my boundaries I taught them that their behaviour was acceptable.
Why did I allow such behaviour? When a child grows up with a parent whose behaviour is aggressive they learn that this is normal, and they learn this is what they can expect in other relationships. They learn that they are not worthy of being treated with respect and love. Being in danger is normal with a dangerous parent around, so they don’t recognise dangerous situations or people, and even find themselves attracted to them. I found myself in such relationships and friendships. In fact I would seek them out, it was what I knew, it was familiar.
It was only when I started discovering that I could be a friend to myself, to treat myself with the same compassion and respect with which I treated others, that I started questioning what I was allowing. It no longer felt okay to me to have unloving, bad tempered people around.
My ex husband called me yesterday, he wants to be friends with me. For the first time I was able to explain to him, that the behaviour I had allowed and accommodated was no longer acceptable. It felt good to say it, I was honouring myself.