bullying,  depression

Learning to Have Boundaries

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“Take the high ground. Be nice about things…”

“Recognize she’s just having a bad day…”

“Recognize he just has poor social skills…”

“Remember they’re just jealous and insecure, and that’s why they act that way…”

These were all things I was taught. In fact, my dad using one of these phrases again just today in a discussion about how to handle a situation. My son jumped into the conversation. “No, that’s how you end up messed up and hating yourself…” My son had a point. See all the good advice about loving others, assuming that they have the best intentions and caring for them can end up really leaving a person messed up.

Always assuming others have the best of intentions means I overlook warning signs. I ignore the little warnings.

I’ve ignored how people talk about other people, and how that is probably a sign of how they will likely someday talk about me.

I’ve ignored watching people tease their other friends, assuming that it is a sign of a strong relationship between them rather than noticing the power dynamic.

I’ve ignored little slights, like when I’ve been dropped from communication I should have been included in or when someone deliberately moves away at a common table. I’ve figured they just want some space, are having a bad day, or whatever.

I’ve downplayed to myself the times people have gotten angry. Or the defensiveness in people’s voices when I talk about my own interests and it somehow makes them insecure about themselves.

I’ve let people convince me that maybe if I did something slightly different, they would have treated me different.

I’ve let people convince me that I have to accept them being angry at me because of some small misunderstanding or mistake.

I’m learning to do better.

I’m learning to not second guess myself as much. I’m learning that I don’t have a moral obligation to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. It is okay to choose not to like people.

I’d like to type “it is okay to walk away from situations without a good reason to do so” but I still find it hard to say those words. I find them hard to say, because people walking away from me has been part of what has hurt me. Yet I know it is true.

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2 Comments

  • Jane Goodness

    Bless your heart! This is a very powerful read.

    I have been in the process of separating from a toxic friend group/community, because of their big lack of boundaries among each other and with me. I take longer and longer breaks from them, and every time I see them again they seem even worse. I think their behavior is getting worse, but I also think I notice it more now, too, since I’m not around it all the time.

    After I stepped away from them, I realized part of what attracted me to the group was I was immediately comfortable…some qualities in they key people from the group were way too familiar…like my enmeshed destructive family of origin.

    But something good came out of that…a realization. It’s left me with the understanding that I can have friends of all walks of life (including the crazy control freaks), but I need to be super picky about who is in my inner circle and gets my time and personal information.

    I made rules. One of the rules to be close friends with me is I have to see that one is kind, respectful, and keeps good boundaries with those closest with those they chose to have in their lives (ex- their spouses and children).

    If I see a friend treating their child, significant other, best friend, etc… like trash, it’s a sign they are not meant to be close friends with me as they will most certainly disregard me as a person and bring me down if I let them that deep into my life. This is something I can learn pretty quickly about someone, because for some odd reason people seem to open up around me fast.

    This has nearly decimated my once-large friend circle, but I am a lot happier and the people I give my time to fill my cup. Likewise, I want to work harder to be a good person in the right way for the right reasons. There is a logic to the saying “those who spend time with wolves soon learn to howl.” Even when we are introverted, we are social beasts—but don’t fear being a lone wolf for a while… Take time to pick a good pack.

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