I never knew of boundaries when I was younger.
That word didn’t really exist in my vocabulary.
Our family, and close knit community, was seemingly nonchalant and carefree about boundaries (or lack thereof). In fact, I’m not sure I even heard that word (used in such a context) until I was in my 20’s and navigating my first long-term relationship.
It’s safe to say for the first 23 years of my life I had no idea what it meant to honestly honor personal boundaries.
You see, I am the type of learner who needs to experience something to truly comprehend what it is.
And I feel as if I never experienced healthy boundaries.
Fast forward to 2016, when I entered into a relationship that changed the entire course of my life.
The word boundary would come into conversations and I would panic. Triggers of being unwanted, pushed away, rejected, or feeling stopped in my tracks would come to the surface.
I tried to use the word to the best of my understanding but couldn’t fully grasp the concept. There were times when I would improperly use the term which led towards manipulation and a play on words.
At the time, I didn’t realize that boundaries were actually healthy.
I didn’t realize that boundaries could set the framework for a sustainable relationship (platonic or romantic).
I didn’t realize that boundaries had to be put into place to protect your own energy.
And I definitely didn’t grasp that boundaries were not a bad thing.
But because I grew up without the experience of embodiment, it was exceptionally challenging for me to implement my own voice/wants/needs.
Let’s look into this idea of people-pleasing.
Instead of saying “no” I would say “yes”, even if it meant at the expense of my own mental health or physical well-being. I have given up my time, my space, my voice, my body, my trust, and my peace to make others feel happy, satisfied, or untroubled.
Throughout the course of my life, I’ve allowed many people to take advantage of me, and all of that is because I haven’t been able to (or known how to) set my own personal boundaries. And when I say my own personal boundaries, I mean the requirements or rules that I have constructed to best serve me in that moment.
Life is in constant flux, which means that the “rules” are ever flowing. Boundaries are continuously evolving and unraveling which allows this communication with your mind to become a dance. This invites you to regularly check in with yourself to find your own baseline and build upon that base to sculpt how you move through the environment with your peace in the forefront.
People-pleasing rests on the opposite side of the spectrum.
When we give in to everyone else’s wants and needs, we lose sight of what’s needed for our own personal growth.
I was a people-pleaser. In fact, sometimes I like to refer to myself as a recovering people-pleaser.
I thought I enjoyed saying yes all the time, even if the knot in my throat was hinting that I really wanted to say no. Because with that “yes” I wouldn’t be bombarded with guilt and overwhelming wrongdoing (instead I would be faced with self-loathing and internal distress).
Though my relationship gave me the opportunity to confront this personal behavioral pattern, I had to learn it the hard way.
When I became pregnant with Liana, our connection was rocky. There were moments of toxicity, distasteful words, explosive rage, unwarranted anger, negative attention, and it felt like a battlefield for bruised egos. We were learning how to use our voices and realized the power of words, which eventually forced us into our own demise.
A couple months after Liana was born I ended up leaving her dad.
That was my first taste at implementing boundaries and it was really fucking hard.
She was hardly 3 months old when I put my foot down and had claimed to have had enough. At the time I was living in Oregon and my entire family was in Florida, so I packed up all of my belongings, shipped our 14 boxes on a greyhound, and flew across the country with my daughter strapped to my chest in a complete state of shock.
I needed 3,000 miles in between us for me to follow through with this boundary.
And with those added miles, lingering shockwave, broken heart, vulnerable body, and brand new baby, I was deep in the throes of postpartum depression.
My entire life had been uprooted because I chose to pull the roots out and plant them somewhere new.
In vocalizing my wants/needs/direction, I placed myself deep into a transition that I couldn’t have ever prepared myself for.
Is this what it meant to lay down a boundary?
Why was this so hard and why did it feel like everything blew up in my face?
Looking back now, I see that the bottled up resentment from silencing myself for so long is what triggered the shockwave. Because yes, sometimes enforcing personal space and desires can be hard but it only blew up as I had been holding it in for too long.
A shift of perspective was in order since Liana’s eyes were on me at all times now.
Single motherhood while navigating wounds and mental illnesses was hard, but it was my responsibility to rewrite the script of my life so I could weave the importance of boundaries into Liana’s foundation.
Now I understand the importance of saying no instead of yes.
I understand the importance of allowing my daughter to hear and experience the implementation of boundaries.
Even if that means her getting mad at me not allowing her to hit me in the face during playtime, or me not allowing her to playfully spit in the direction of my people, or me not allowing her to speak to me in such a way that is hurtful (even if she doesn’t understand why or how it could be hurtful). We are constantly encouraging each other to speak of limits, likes, dislikes, respect, space, personal preferences, and giving us the ability to use our voices.
Four years into motherhood and I feel that I’m just beginning to understand what it is that I want (as an individual outside of just a mother), how it is that I would like to be treated and respected.
I have found peace in the understanding that I cannot please everyone. I cannot make everyone happy. I will upset others, I will likely let people down. I cannot hold onto guilt for actions that I take to protect myself. I am not responsible for other peoples emotions and reactions.
I’m just now beginning to accept who I am, what I want, what I desire, and what I need. I’m finding acceptance towards the person who craves independence and solitude. A person whose peace can be tipped over with the faintest of interruptions. I’m just beginning to understand the kind of help/support that I need to further myself in this journey called Life. I’m finally learning how to accept my differences and address my triggers (trying to learn from them rather than run from them).
And while all of this is unfolding into place, my daughter is watching.
She is witnessing, observing, learning, addressing, and dancing through life with me.
I’m extremely proud of us.
I’m extraordinary proud of myself.
Keep reading >>
Out here in the dry salt flats of Nevada, time stands still. The air is thick and dust filled. I draw a line on the windshield of my car in the exact same spot everyday to watch how many layers of dust settle here. A lingering stench of what I would imagine a bag of…
Rapid Rebirth pt. 3
My daughter, Liana, arrived at 2:54 in the morning, on September 7, 2018, less than three hours from the start of contractions. According to the American Pregnancy Association, rapid labor is characterized by labor that can last as little as three hours, also known as precipitous labor. I had never heard of this term prior…
Rapid Rebirth pt. 2
“Matt, Matt, wake up. I think something’s happening,” I whispered as I hunched my nude body over the side of our bed. I was dropping in and out of reality, and riding this new awareness of sensation. I felt bones shifting, muscles contracting, and electrical impulses dancing up and down my spine. This shockwave was…
Leave a Reply