Enforcing boundaries with people when you’ve never done so before, is hard.
Or, to be accurate, regularly enforcing firm boundaries with people who’ve been privy to the depths of your mental illness, is hard. People you love who love you back, who’ve been on the receiving end of your mercurial moods and waffling nature, who might well see you as a lovable flake — is tough as fuck.
It is the hardest thing i’ve ever had to do, telling people i care about things like:
– i don’t like that;
– i’m not doing that;
I’m ready to end relationships where the other party can’t accept that. And i’m putting distance between myself and relationships where there’s an imbalance of effort and investment.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this “selfless giving” thing. I was taught by my elders and the religion i was raised in, that selflessness was the ideal. That might be true, but the examples of such that were modelled for me are not ones i’m keen on anymore.
I’ve learned that i like to be thanked and appreciated for my efforts.
My upbringing tells me that that is selfish and not in the true spirit of giving, but i reject that. I reject it because it has been my overwhelming experience that the people who don’t thank me or make sure i know they appreciate my time and effort and generosity, are either people who aren’t doing the same for me, or those who will take and take until i have nothing left.
Sometimes, in some situations, and for some people, i am still willing to do that.
But sometimes i’m not now, and it’s hard not to.
Because i was also taught:
– i should give whenever i’m asked;
– i should give to my personal detriment;
– i should give even if it will leave me with nothing;
– suffering is admirable;
– suffering makes me a better person;
– to love is to suffer…
I think there is a difference between service and servitude.
I’m being more selective and discerning in where, when, and to whom i give.
And holy shit do people not like that i’m doing this.
In closing, hey, i know i’m extra-feisty lately.
But i think it’s better directed. Before, i’d be snarking about everything, all the time. I got sucked into partisanship. I was on the porch with the big dogs, barking my ass off.
To no productive end.
I don’t regret it, though. Not at all. Because i wasn’t allowed to be angry growing up, and i had so much to be angry about, that when the roof got blown off, HONEY! It was flying to the next continent, never mind the county.
Now though, when i’m angry and discontented with people and situations i’m personally involved in and affected by, i channel it into action.
I state my discontentment.
I set boundaries.
I use time and distance.
And i fucking say, NO and STOP.
This spring has been so shit. Everything has sucked. It’s been one loss after another, along with relationship dramas and physical calamities. It has brought me to a watershed moment. Such is usually recognised in hindsight, but self-awareness and mindfulness are what keeps me alive, so i can see that the water’s coming up the bank…
I will not be swept away.
We got to head for higher ground
We can’t come back till the water comes down
Five feet high and rising
Well its five feet high and rising
~ Johnny Cash, Five Feet High and Rising
IMAGE: Ainur Khakimov