I feel like I am always working to better myself; it has just become a part of who I am. I guess that’s what happens when you spend more than half of your life in therapy. Unfortunately, I don’t always take constructive criticism well, especially when it is something that I know I need to work on.
Today, my therapist pointed out to me that I really need to work on boundaries… respecting them and also not being so passive when setting my own. Obviously.
I actually do a pretty ok job of respecting the boundaries that others set now, but I definitely remember a time when I didn’t (roughly 8-14 years ago). Actually, maybe I didn’t start acknowledging and respecting other people’s boundaries until I got into AA. Even though I respect those boundaries now, and I try really fucking hard not to be so over-the-top crazy, I do sometimes get a little agitated (or pissed) when I don’t agree with the boundaries or when my expectations aren’t met. If I feel like my life is in or heading towards a crisis, and you are my friend, husband, or therapist, the “borderline” part of my brain goes into a complete panic if you don’t stop what you’re doing right that minute to fix it.
For example: one of my best friends came to spend the weekend with me. Well, as I was cleaning the guest bathroom the other night, I noticed that the bathtub was not draining properly. I asked my husband if he could look at it during his break the next day. He’s super ADHD and I’m pretty sure he forgot. He told me though that it was draining fine. I went to check it last night and it most certainly was not draining fine! I was in a complete panic and for half a second, I felt like he should come home and fix this because I didn’t know how and OBVIOUSLY THE WHOLE WORLD WAS ENDING! I managed to take a few deep breaths and texted him to see if he could look at it again in the morning. My initial instinct, however, was to totally lose my shit because I needed him home right that minute to fix the problem. I think he fixed it today, but honestly I haven’t looked. I guess if it’s not draining when my friend showers tomorrow, she can use my bathroom. See — there’s a logical solution and I know what it is — in the moment, the irrational side of my brain takes over….every fucking time.
I work really hard to be more rational with my interpretation of other people’s boundaries. I also try not to hold everyone to these unrealistic expectations, but apparently my shrink feels like I hold her and others to these unrealistically high expectations so I guess I should work on that too. Actually, I feel like I go back and forth between having no expectations of anyone (“Fuck all of you – you all fucking suck – I’ll just take care of myself because none of you can manage to do it”) and unrealistically high expectations (“Fuck you for not dropping everything that is going on in your life right now to help me”). I think I float between these two extremes. I’ve yet to find a happy medium. Hmmm….I wonder what disorder that is? Whatever it is, I clearly struggle with it. Or maybe that’s just called being self-centered. GASP!
Setting boundaries for myself…
This is a definite problem. I know it is. Just like I know that sometimes I jump to irrational conclusions and expectations regarding other people’s boundaries. I just don’t understand how to effectively set boundaries without sounding like a complete bitch. My brother-in-law’s wife has told the entire world that I’m bossy. Now, I’ve worked on that some, but I honestly think it’s just the way I come off sometimes. I’m in a profession where I lead a lot of people. I also am the oldest of three girls in my family. Taking charge and leading is kind of my norm. However, I also HATE conflict. I do. I hate conflict and confrontation and disappointing people. I am a people pleaser, and not just when I’m on my knees. I don’t do well with turmoil or negative emotions, so it is easier to sacrifice my own boundaries in an attempt to keep the peace. I know that no one really likes it when people are mad at them, but I think I take everything so personally sometimes that it feels like I would rather have my boundaries disrespected than feel like someone hates me.
I don’t really know how to fix this problem of setting clear, firm boundaries for myself. In marriage counseling, I have done some of this by making a list of boundaries during sex. What happens when you have PTSD from childhood sexual abuse is that sometimes sex can be amazing and wonderful and all of the things it is meant to be, but other times it can throw you into some of the worst flashbacks of your life. Having to set those boundaries and be really clear about what is and isn’t ok was important for me to feel safe, but also important for my marriage. Setting boundaries in that instance wasn’t “hard,” but it also wasn’t easy. I have an even harder time setting boundaries with people other than my husband.
Setting boundaries with my mom is probably the most challenging. This could possibly stem from having her rip through every boundary I’ve ever set with her. It’s like: what’s the point of setting a boundary with her, she’s just going to disrespect it anyway? If I set the boundary, then I’m setting an expectation for it to not be crossed. Then, once that boundary is crossed, I’m left not only feeling disrespected, but also disappointed. With her, it feels like I’m fucked if I don’t establish a boundary, but even more fucked if I do. This week, I talked to her on two separate occasions. Both times, my mom brought up derogatory statements about me being in therapy. As you already know if you read my blog, my mom IS NOT pro-therapy. I should, at this point, just expect her to be disrespectful towards me, but there is something about that maternal relationship that makes it so hard for me to willingly disconnect from her. I want so much for this relationship to be different, but it isn’t…and it probably won’t ever be.
Ok, I’m rambling now. The bottom line is: Boundaries are fucking hard. I suck at them. I don’t have a solution for how to fix this. I feel defeated. This is something I worry that I will always struggle with, and that’s sad. I promise I can be smart, and sane, and rational most of the time, but when it comes to boundaries, #thestruggleisreal