Boundaries are Essential

Boundaries Are Essential For Living

Boundaries are essential for living a life of freedom and intention. As someone who has lived under the oppression of patriarchy, an oppressive family life, or even a cult, boundaries can be extremely difficult to implement because it goes against so much of the indoctrination you’ve had instilled in your life. It’s totally normal for this idea to feel SO foreign, and I want to discuss WHY they can be so hard to put into place at first. Once you understand where your hesitation is coming from, you can start to correct that story in your head, and placing boundaries becomes so much easier! Personally, for me, there were several twisted ideas taught from a very young age that have had to be unraveled in my own mind. Unfortunately, these are extremely common teachings. They grab hold so tightly in your mind that even if you leave the cult/oppressive community/family, you still might carry these beliefs out with you. Let’s just dive right into some of them and talk about what they really are and why they are so important to these communities/cults.

The Fallacy of a “Selfless” Life

First off, there is the idea that you need to be selfless in all things. One of the ways this is disguised as a good thing is by teaching you from a very young age that you should always look at life through the lens of “someone always has it worse than you”, (which, by the way, is invalidating your own experiences…basically gaslighting yourself. Ew!) therefore you should sacrifice your time and energy to help them. This means dropping everything to help someone even if it means neglecting your own family’s needs. This means, constantly helping someone even when they have NO desire to better their own lives, and constantly want to live with drama like it’s an addictive drug. Newsflash, that hit of cortisol that drama gives, is actually extremely addictive, and why some people seem to ALWAYS have drama in their lives. They create it, seek it out, and constantly NEED it to feel “normal”. The ego boost YOU get when you are constantly putting on your hero cape to be “selfless” or a “good and loyal friend” by running around saving everyone but yourself, yep, it’s also addictive too. So it creates this cyclical pattern of neglecting your own needs, seeking out drama so you can don your hero cape and boost your ego by “being selfless”.  Once you decide to place a boundary and no longer enable others in this way, suddenly you are deemed as “selfish”.

Look for the “Good”

Then there’s also this idea, especially within cultish communities and families, that you should constantly just look for the good in each other, turn the other cheek as it were, and try to just get along. What if there isn’t much good?? What if the “good” is only doled out when you conform? Unfortunately, this behavior allows someone to continue bullying you and invalidate your experiences in life. Your “loyalty” to the community/family is somehow based on you allowing them to bully you into conformity and in turn silencing you if/when you call out their abuse. The reason they do this is because it promotes the conformity they need to keep up their social construct. It is also how they get away with abuse, aka “Just forgive and move on.”. When you start voicing your concerns that their toxic behaviors and choices are bleeding into your life, affecting your mental and even physical health and eventually your children’s emotional health and wellbeing…suddenly you become the problem. Why? Because you’re no longer conforming to their twisted rules. So, that’s when the gaslighting, the manipulation, the lies, the bullying and cries of injustice start…anything to keep them from looking inward and seeing that they are in fact the problem. This is when and where boundaries are imperative, but SO difficult to put in place at first IF you haven’t taken the time to truly SEE and UNDERSTAND the purpose behind their patterns and tactics. It can feel lonely and you’ll be tempted to just continue to endure the abuse, gaslight yourself and fall right back into to conforming.

It is imperative for you to fully grasp the concept that you are not responsible for someone’s response/reaction to your boundary! Nor are they entitled to an explanation as to why you have put up the boundary. Once you grasp this and TRULY believe it, a whole new world of freedom opens up! Boundaries are one of the most needed and yet most beautifully difficult tools to implement in your healing journey. Beautiful because the opportunities for growth and self-discovery abound once you remove someone else’s expectations of you, and difficult because you have to be very intentional on maintaining them and the backlash from a boundary being placed can be heart wrenching at times.

A Grudge vs. A Boundary

When my husband and I first started recognizing toxic relationships and behaviors early on in our marriage (mainly within our community circles and both of our families) for what they were and decided to put up some boundaries, it was extremely difficult. We understood that the boundaries would be misunderstood and seen as holding a grudge or thinking we were better than others. Neither of which were remotely true. Choosing to protect your peace and the peace and wellbeing of your family (meaning the family that lives in your four walls) is NOT holding a grudge.

Recently I watched a video where a man* brilliantly described the difference between boundaries and holding a grudge. He said, “I don’t hold grudges. I just see people for who they are and I don’t necessarily allow them access back into my life…When you hold a grudge against someone, it’s you drinking that poison hoping they die from it. It’s you reliving that experience and energy hoping that they feel it too…that there’s some kind of redemption or vindication from your experience.  When you have a boundary, you see someone for who they are, you understand your experiences, and you don’t allow them access back to your peace…When you work hard to build and protect your peace, you understand how picky you have to be with who you share that with. Time does not allow re-entry and an apology does not always grant access…”.  Boom! I couldn’t have put it any better. Boundaries are for the protection of both parties involved.

Acceptance >Approval

Boundaries give us the ability to thrive and live a full and peace filled life without the need of someone else’s approval. When it comes to healthy relationships, what we all should look for is acceptance. We should never feel a need to conform and change who we are so that we can gain someone else’s approval. That’s just manipulation and people wanting you to change to keep them feeling comfortable in your presence because you are meeting their standards of approval. Healthy relationships accept you for WHO you are with no strings attached. Now before you even think it, let alone say it, NO this does not mean you accept someone’s abusive behavior just because that’s “who they are”! That’s called enabling and should never be compared to acceptance. Abuse should NEVER be tolerated or considered acceptable. Acceptance is two people who accept each other’s differences and experiences in life and find no need to try to change those differences or invalidate their individual experiences. This doesn’t mean you always agree, but you respect that person’s right to their own opinion and understand that we are all different without trying to change one another.

A Personal Experience with Boundaries

Not too long ago, one of our children endured something extremely traumatizing. Our lives were quite literally turned upside down for MONTHS. The amount of work we were doing to help this child heal emotionally was VERY intense and time consuming. At this same time, I had also been dealing with relationships that were turning more and more harmful, and draining me of my energy. I had forgotten my own rules about boundaries and the fallacy of being selfless. On one particular occasion, my child who was going through the grueling task of healing, was standing in my living room sobbing. I asked what was wrong and their words felt like a knife in my heart. They were referencing my involvement with this other person’s struggles, and said “I get so angry when they are around. It’s so confusing and hurtful. I can’t handle the up and down of the drama. I never know who I’m going to get when they walk through our door. I just can’t take it anymore!!”.  My heart sank. I had fallen back into an old pattern. I believed my struggles weren’t as bad as someone else’s, and I allowed my ego to make me think I could actually help this person even though they didn’t want to truly change. This belief had now harmed my ALREADY struggling child. In believing this lie, I not only harmed myself, but put EVEN more on my child who was fighting an incredibly hard battle. In a place where this child should have felt safe and secure, their home, I had allowed someone to come in and cause such severe pain. Why? Because my ego thought I could actually help someone who didn’t really want to be helped. By allowing my ego to take over, I allowed someone to breach a boundary, abuse me and in turn abuse my already struggling child. Talk about a hard reality check.

Why do I share that? Well, because I want to keep it real. Also, because I want to share that once I recognized my mistake, I repaired my boundary that I allowed to be breached. After doing this, I was finally able to turn my full attention to my child and my own mental health. It took months of sleepless nights, lots of coaching but my child was able to find healing and peace. We are extremely vigilant to protect their peace and who has access to it. Our relationships within these four walls are thriving. They aren’t perfect, but they are healthy, supportive, and boundaries play a pivotal role in that. Both of my children know that their parents are willing to do anything to protect them including denying access to those that don’t see our value and whose behaviors and choices destroy our peace.

Beautifully Difficult Boundaries

These beautifully difficult boundaries are ESSENTIAL in life and especially to someone overcoming abuse, oppression and seeking to live a life of freedom and intention! Don’t be afraid to place that boundary. While you may grieve the loss of a relationship, don’t keep reliving the ins and outs of why the boundary was necessary. That is stepping into grudge territory AND giving someone rent free space in your mind. No one should have that kind of access to your life, your peace and your energy. Remember also, that acceptance is where it’s at, and approval is just changing yourself to keep others comfortable. No one can be truly happy living like that. Be you, my friend! The world is full of amazing people who will accept you with open arms. Build those beautifully difficult boundaries and FREELY BE YOU! Just watch how Bravely You Shine once you free yourself of the expectations, demands, abuse and approval of others.  You only have one wild and crazy life, and you can live it fully as who you were created to be, or you can live it in bondage to who others want you to be. What do you choose?

 

*TikTok @isaiahfrizzelle

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