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.
What about when people are seemingly nice, but, they either do it without asking you, or they just take over. Consider the following:
There is a good book on Boundaries, which you can get through Amazon.com called: Where To Draw The Line, by Anne Katherine
But here’s a scenario/question I’d like to share, not in the book.
Who is in charge in your house or apartment? You are, or should be. Why? Because it’s *your* place! But if that’s true, then what if:
You brother or sister comes over to stay for a few days, maybe a week. Let’s say your parents are also coming over, too and that you have a 2 or 3 bedroom place. Even though they are family, you are still in charge of your own place and family or not, they should “respect your house” and that it’s “your house, your rules”. After all, who is in charge in their house? Simple enough. But what if your brother or sister decided to intrude on or ignore your boundaries “by doing a good thing”? Such as: Family is visiting you. Let’s say you go to the Mall in the daytime because you enjoy it and will be gone all afternoon til say, an hour before dinner. But, while you were out, let’s say your brother or your sister got the bright idea of going the grocery store, buying some meat, veggies and a bunch of food items and–without informing or asking you at all–just decided that they would cook dinner for everyone, using your kitchen, and they wont let you pay them back for the food they bought. You come back from the Mall, walk in the door and its 15 minutes before everything is ready.
It might be very tempting to just say: KEWWWL! Somebody cooked for me and it didnt cost me a dime, but—think further. is it really as simple and innocent as that? Or, would you feel like someone else “took over” and “ran right over you without asking first”? Maybe so they could one-up you and be “star of the show” in your own house? Or at the very least, ignoring you and overstepping their bounds? Let’s go further still. Suppose you do think so, but that your Mom or Dad defends that person, saying how it was all so “kind-hearted” of them, would you still think it was wrong? Are you going by what you feel or how others tell you how you should feel? How would you feel? Why? What if after dinner you all wanted to go see a movie and this same person picked the one you will all go to see, while visiting your house? Don’t you feel like this person is “taking over”? If no, why not? If yes, suppose they offered to pay the bill for everyone, does that mean they get their way or make the decision? Beware of manipulators offering gifts. How do you feel about all this? Boundaries is a fascinating topic. — TheOwl30