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Setting--and MAINTAINING--Boundar

Monday, March 07, 2011

I had a really lovely weekend--the perfect blend of getting things done and relaxing. On Saturday I got in a great workout, finally made a decision about which road bike to buy and ordered it, then spent some time relaxed at home with Dan and the pets. On Sunday we woke up early, went for breakfast, drove around a local park, went grocery shopping, then came home and relaxed and did a little work. I cooked a lovely, delicious dinner with a few new recipes, then settled in on the couch for the evening. In hindsight, I should have stopped there.

Instead, I decided to take out the laptop and see what all was going on. I wound up in not one, not two, but three uncomfortable online interactions that entirely changed my mood, affected the way I slept last night, and gave me such gross feelings that I woke up today feeling sluggish and sad rather than fresh and recharged from the restorative weekend I'd had. One was with an acquaintance I've made through my gym who I've noticed has, um, VERY different political beliefs than I. She posted some things about how she's glad teachers in Wisconsin are getting what they're getting and is hopeful that unions will be banned in NJ too. My little disclaimer is that you, me, and this acquaintance are all, of course, entitled to our own beliefs and opinions. Making them public on facebook tends to invite some conversation and controversy around them (duh), and as an educator myself, you might imagine I had something to say in support of educators in NJ. Another disclaimer: normally, I avoid political conversations like this like the PLAGUE, but it struck a nerve given my past as a teacher and my present as a teacher of future teachers! Some of the things she--and her buddies--said were so off the mark and just plain hurtful! I quickly realized it wasn't worth it, but the aftermath involved her coming at me from all angles to assure me that it "wasn't personal," that she believes in me as a teacher, etc. It's a lovely sentiment, but after what she'd already said, it was completely ingenuine, and I'll confess that for better or worse, I was still hurt. I regretted it instantly--why did I even bite that hook?--and now dread running into her this morning at the gym.

Another was with a friend who justified his alcoholic behavior to me (not that I was criticizing this behavior or in any way suggesting he NEEDED to justify it) for twenty minutes. Another was with a friend who asked me for specific dates I'd be willing to get together and celebrate my birthday (March 19th), and when I didn't openly provide any (between my work schedule and training schedule, the coming two months are going to be pretty blown up!), he then told me I'd have to be free eventually, so why don't we just pick a date in May or June and go with that? When I laughed at this suggestion (I thought he meant it as a joke), he assured me he didn't mean it to be funny. When I suggested we might get to see him for a bday party his significant other is having in April, he asked then if we would mind bringing our karaoke set-up to provide entertainment for the party. It's a really different thing, me suggesting we'll be able to stop by for a party and us bringing the party's entertainment. But did I say no? Nah.

Anyway, here's the lesson I feel like I'm getting in all of this: As soon as I get a little recharge, a little balance, a little restoration, I immediately get flexible with my boundaries. I start doing things I don't actually want to do, say yes to things I really want to say no to, engage in toxic conversations or with toxic people. I do this pretty consistently. For me, it was a huge accomplishment to learn to set boundaries, and I struggled with this for a really long time. The next thing to work on is maintaining them. Why, when I give myself a little rest and space, do I run right into relationships and situations I don't actually want a part of? The effect of this is that I just feel almost instantly drained and drowned again, and all my rest and restoration goes right out the window, gone as quickly as it came.

So the next work involves allowing myself to just BE in that space where I feel rested, recharged, and filled up again. I want to think about WHY I feel so eager to let down my guard, to gush yesses, to fly into conversations that I KNOW will drain and/or upset me. Is it because I believe I'm suddenly strong enough to take it on? Is it that it's familiar? Is it because I feel guilty that I've gotten what I need and I temper that with trying to be available to others? A tentative yes to all of those things. But I want to think about it more. Knowing how to set boundaries is a really important thing! It allowed me the space and time for self-care that I needed to shed the weight I shed. But knowing how to maintain them, support them, and have compassion for yourself in the process is something else altogether. I'm ready for that piece.

I slept terribly last night--I had a lot on my mind and it was horribly windy (and we live in the woods). This morning I treated myself to a slow start. I considered avoiding a spin class I know my gym acquaintance will likely be attending, but getting to this spin class is important to MY training schedule, and so I'll be going. I'll also be allowing myself to head to work just a little later so that I have time to also get in my swim workout and a healthy lunch. I come first. Not my students, not my friends, not anyone else in the world. Now... to work on maintaining that....

And so that, my friends, is where I am today. :-)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon Yes it can be very easy to get caught up with other people's lives! emoticon I wish you well in resetting your bounderies!
    2970 days ago
    As you know, I can so relate to this blog. I truly hope that you're feeling better today. emoticon
    2970 days ago
    I can really relate to this email. I spend my free time doing things for myself that make me happy. I used to constantly find myself in uncomfortable and sometimes downright confrontation situations, going back and forth with someone over issues that will and always remain unresolved, just because I felt like it was moral obligation to do so. I've kind of let that thinking fall by the wayside because it was too stressful and too emotional. I don't have a real solution now since I just kind of avoid heated discussions by all means. I felt like out of my whole group of friends, it was always me who was giving someone the business, or standing up for someone when some a-hole said something nasty but I had to step back and think these are grown people who are perfectly capable of handling themselves. So that's what I do now. When people start talking about uncomfortable issues I don't comment or just leave. But good for you for taking the extra time this morning to try to get yourself back to center. Hopefully that extra time allowed you to feel at peace for the rest of the day and evening. Namaste
    2971 days ago
    Next time someone asks about having the karaoke setup, just tell them that Dan is in charge of that and check with him to see if it fits into HIS schedule... That way you are not giving them a firm 'NO', but you have the option of swaying his answer. A lot of times people aren't so pushy with men because they recognize that many women are 'pleasers' and men tend not to be so much.

    I hope the week gets better for you and good luck with maintaining your boundaries.

    2971 days ago
  • BAM0827
    It's hard to rewrite internal scripts! You've rewritten many of them and I have faith you'll rewrite the ones on boundaries. Give yourself some time and leeway to figure it out.

    Now the saying yes to the karaoke may have to be thought about again - but the FB exchange - liken it to a not-so-great food choice, over and done with - can't change it and move on.

    2971 days ago
  • no profile photo MONEYGOOSE
    You are definitely right. What got you to that place of relaxation and happiness is going to be the same thing that keeps you there. I am glad you set right back to it this morning. :)
    2971 days ago

    I am so very proud of you for still going to your spinning class this morning.

    2971 days ago
    Melissa, I have boundary issues too. I've gotten better at saying no over the years, but occasionally still stumble over the word instead of saying it confidently. If you've always been the type of person to give of yourself and to say yes, this is a tough change to make, and it won't come without setbacks (sort of like losing weight and living healthier!). I'm sorry you feel crummy this morning and that people kind of beat you up a bit. You're doing the right thing in making this a positive and trying to learn from it.

    Sending you virtual hugs! emoticon
    2971 days ago
    i hope things even out quickly with the gym buddy - it is kinda strained when your views differ so much from another person - at the same time as long as u guys openly understand that about each other you should be able to be civil - if not friendly. i know all too well about high maint. friends & the situations that stem from there. i don't like how they pen you into attending events you may not want to be a huge part of - the bringing of equip being a reason u have to stay longer than a drop in - seems manipulative. the runes say if you surround yourself with people who 'use' you that is fine - just be fully aware of what is going on - and it sounds like you are. as long as you have your eyes open (and an escape plan) you are golden. i hope that as time passes more people will realize the busy nature of your life and ease off on pressuring you to get together! keep following your heart & dont be afraid to do what is right and healthful and sane for YOU!! your life is your ship to steer and you are way off coast enjoying the brisk breeze while they are ignoring the light house and coming close to the rocky shore...
    2971 days ago
    "Is it because I feel guilty that I've gotten what I need and I temper that with trying to be available to others?" This gave me a little DING DING DING!!!! Great blog. *HUGS*
    2971 days ago
  • BANAN2
    Great insights about your patterns. If last night led to a process of figuring that sort of thing out, I say it was well worth the crap! I always just associated maintenance with weight loss, but now that you mention it, it does apply to ALL changes we make in ourselves and our thinking and behavior...if we don't stay aware and vigilant, we slide back into old patterns SOOOO easily!
    2971 days ago
  • FREES1
    sometimes it is hard to say 'no'... it takes practice to be able to do it and even more practice sometimes to not feel quilty for saying 'no'... 'I am not going to discuss this with you'... 'no, I cannot set a date at this time, my next 2 months are full'... you can do it! and then let it go!
    2971 days ago
  • no profile photo BEST_LIFE_NOW
    I had to laugh reading this because I'm in the same situation.

    What I think is this ... it really boils down to practice. At some point our behavior will change but I think it's still trying to get back to the comfort zone (which was very uncomfortable).

    I don't think you need advice ... you know what to do ... and for the most part you are doing it beautifully!
    2971 days ago
    That stinks. It really does. Don't let others negativity get you. The exercise will clear your mind. Just rise above it. Sounds like you are. Best to you.
    2971 days ago
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