I grew up being taught about land ownership. Trespassing was something that, to this day, will make my Dad see red. Leisurely crossing boundaries without permission of the landowner is not only illegal, it’s disrespectful. And I have spent my life understanding that concept and living by it.
What I wasn’t taught, growing up, and have had to figure out, is how boundary lines are often necessary in our lives, in our hearts, in our minds – as well as our physical space.
And I’m just now learning how to draw some.
I was raised in a Christian household, and the concept of “turning the other cheek” is something that I remember being impressed upon me from an early age. The concept of forgiveness, mercy, and second chances. I definitely believe in all of that. I have to. I believe that I have been shown more measures of grace than I can even begin to recount.
I also believe that when Jesus taught us to love our enemies, and pray for those who spitefully use us, he didn’t mean that we had to allow them to be closely involved with us. I think there is such a thing as loving people with a healthy measure of distance.
I don’t consider myself a weak person, I just know my own limitations. I know my own sensitivities. And I know when certain relationships aren’t worth the effort it takes to either pursue or sustain them. I am not a bottomless vessel. So I’m learning how to draw boundaries.
I draw them because my very sanity now depends on it.
Maybe it has something to do with getting older. Or wiser. Or both.
I will be the first to admit that, sometimes, my first impressions of people are incorrect. Sometimes, I end up being very close with someone that I didn’t see me having any kind of connection to.
But when my gut has been consistently telling me something for years and years, and nothing has proven true otherwise – it’s time to listen. Draw that boundary line.
Doing that isn’t as easy as just saying, “This is as far as I will let you into my life.”
Sometimes it’s about certain behaviors you will no longer tolerate.
And with any type of resolve to change these types of dynamics, there are always consequences. That’s one reason why they are so hard to implement. The inevitable fallout can result in the entire destruction of relationships that you only intended to have a more respectful and/or realistic dynamic.
Just like prosecuting someone for trespassing tends to make them a little bitter toward you, even though you are well within your rights to do so.
Power shifts within relationships either result in changed behavior, or bitterness. Sometimes there is anger, then change. But you never know what the outcome will be until you draw those boundaries and begin to enforce them.
For me, it requires a lot of expended energy to do this. But much less, in the long run, than I would spend trying to sustain or pursue relationships with people that are not bringing something valuable to my table.
There is enough pain in life that cannot be avoided. It only makes sense to avoid the pain we can.
Life changes and you have to make a decision.
You can adapt, or you can stagnate.
You can accept, and go through the stages that go along with acceptance, or you can sit down and refuse to accept the reality.
But with refusal comes bitterness. Anger. Unhealthy habits to cope.
It is very, very hard to accept what we want to change but cannot.
No one likes to admit that there is something beyond their control.
But that is the harsh truth.
And sometimes it isn’t fair, that reality that we don’t want to accept and fight like hell to ignore.
Until we can’t.
Self-awareness, self-discovery, growth, change….all of that good stuff – for me, it starts with my instincts. My gut. My intuition. The still, small voice within my soul.
That’s where it begins. And sometimes…..it stalls out.
Because my brain…..sometimes it wants to step in and play Devil’s advocate. It is the filter through which I sift whatever is pressing on me emotionally.
Sometimes the conflict is so strong and difficult to process that it makes my head hurt. It makes my heart hurt. And it freezes my intent.
I can never carry on in that way forever. It only serves to make me miserable. After wrestling with decisions and the pros and cons, I always, always, always feel better after one is made. The guesswork is gone. If there is going to be pain, at least then I know to what end and how I should prepare and deal with it.
It’s that in-between space that is so miserable. That place where nothing makes sense, but something has to happen.
It is in that limbo that I feel I’ve lived too much of my life.
Scared of making wrong choices.
Feeling responsible for the feelings of others.
Thinking I had to have some level of peace before each decision.
But the truth is, even my wrong choices have had a way of leading to good things.
And I’m not responsible for anyone’s feelings but my own.
And sometimes, most of the time, peace doesn’t come until after the decision is made.
I’ve been here many times, afraid to make the choice that I know has to be made. Weary before I even attempt to settle on a decision. It’s the anticipation. The knowing.
But then I draw the line. Set the boundary. It is then, and only then, I can finally breathe again.