“Boundaries don’t keep other people out. They fence you in. Life is messy. That’s how we’re made. So, you can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.” Meredith Grey
At the outset of 2012, as usual, my “themes” and words for the year were clear – miracles, slowing down, letting go. January was an amazing month in all these areas – yet, as usually happens, a month in and that’s already changing. It happens. I’m not forgetting the original aims, but I know now to be flexible and change as other things appear (often because you start to work on the other areas). “Suddenly,” the issue of boundaries appeared. It had been there, lurking – but it seemed to be a major theme for a number of my friends for 2012. I was interested to see how they would learn to do set or maintain boundaries, but I knew it wasn’t one of my themes.
And the Universe laughed – because of course it turned out that it was actually something I would need to consider this year, and I realised that because of the reaction I had to a particular blog – a reaction mirrored by one of my friends who already knew this was one of her themes.
For a while now, she’s wanted an allotment, a necessary tool for her in so many ways, but when she found out she’d got one, the critical thing appeared not to be what she planted in it – but the limits of the allotment. She felt she needed to get her boundaries defined, not just of her own allotment, but it seemed that all those with allotments in that area “had” to define the wider area too, by planting trees. This was such an important issue I knew that on a soul level, boundaries must be important to her, and so it turned out. I sent her the link that I sent many friends, a blog that seemed to resonate with so many people in different ways – and I laughed when I got her response, because it was such an unexpectedly strong response; a response that had mirrored mine.
While she could absolutely see where the blogger was coming from AND her need to say what she had said, and do what she did in setting very clear boundaries in all areas of her life, she still felt that she was a “selfish cow,” in putting her own needs before others. I understood her reaction, and I laughed because I’d almost had the same reaction. And we both understood, because we’ve been there before on other issues, that such a vehement reaction meant that there were lessons in there that we needed to learn.
Reading the blog was perfect timing for me, as for a number of reasons, I was moving swiftly to full blown martyr syndrome about all I needed to do around the house, about what I seemed to be required to do in my job, and about certain friendships that were more about taking rather than giving. As a result of reading it, I was able to re-establish some boundaries, re-define others, and set some new ones (making it clear respectfully what I expected going forward), and found I did so more easily than I expected. And I honoured and nurtured myself in the process, so I could easily answer my inner critic when she tried to send me on a guilt trip 😉
There are so many boundaries I feel it makes sense to protect – my time, my resources, my values and beliefs, my plans, how I spend my time, and who I spend that with, as well as the messages I choose to listen to; but more interestingly, I’m finding that I’m actually challenging long held boundaries, to see if those beliefs are still true to me. Boundaries protect us in so many ways, and make life simpler because we know where we are with them, and we know what we cross. So much of what I do or don’t do is around what my parents thought or what society thinks – ways of being that may have been useful at a time, but now limit my life. Much of my life was lived with boundaries of orange and green, fundamental and “other”, and I know this is not how I wish to live now.
It’s my life, and that means it’s MY boundaries that matter, as long as I hold to the principle of “do no harm.” So better late than never, I’m figuring out what they might actually be.. and where I might need to put my toe over any I currently have, and start crossing those that no longer serve me 😉
What boundaries might you need to re-evaluate, re-define – or cross?