Boundaries are such a simple concept, yet so difficult to implement. I am envious of those who have boundaries and stick to them. I’m just now realizing that I do not have any boundaries, per say. I think I do, but I clearly don’t. People seem to help themselves to my time, somehow convincing me that it is a good thing to stretch myself too thin and slowly kill myself through stress. I didn’t even know setting boundaries was a thing! My girlfriend had to enlighten me about this. Guess what?! She also struggles with setting boundaries! I’ve always thought people would respect your time and compensate you for giving it up for their needs/wants. Oh, I’m learning this so isn’t true.
I don’t mind exchanging time with someone: I’ll give up some of my time to help you, and you’ll return the favor and help me out someday. It would be like a “time bartering” system. How rarely that ever happens. When people realize that you’ll willingly give up your time to help them out, they tend to take advantage of it…. as often as they can. I’ve realized that I allowed too many people to do that to me. Now that I’m forced to set boundaries, there is a massive pushback. Dealing with this is very difficult. It makes me want to quit and just be a shell of myself and hope for death. I can see how everything should work, but apparently, other people aren’t in on that.
I feel guilty not being able to help people out if I have the ability to do so. This guilt has been sculpted by manipulators and narcists who value themselves more than me. They say things to make me question my own self worth and how much my time is worth. “Can you help me? I can’t do this without you.” It’s bullshit. They can, but they would rather I do all the hard work. Unfortunately this guild boils over into my personal life. I feel guilty about spending much-needed personal time to recharge my soul if my family needs me for something. “Fuck it! I can sleep when I’m dead!” The unfortunate reality is that might be sooner than I think. “The time is later than you think.” I’ll run this errand, watch this show, help with this, or whatever it might be in order to not feel like I’m letting anyone down. The crazy, fucked up thing about it is that it only hurts me and the relationships if I don’t recharge my fuel cells. Sure, the girlfriend might be bummed I can’t watch the next episode of the show, but I need to learn to set that boundary so I can get some sleep. If she gets upset, that’s something she needs to address with herself. I know she wouldn’t want me to suffer just to watch another episode with her. Nonetheless, I feel guilty if I say, “no.”
I am literally at my breaking point. I haven’t broken, but that’s because I decided (with a shit-ton of convincing) that I needed a mental health break. No phone calls, emails, texts, etc. Yes, I might have broken that rule on a text or two, but that’s only because the person that is throwing the biggest fit of me being at my limit and setting boundaries is clueless and accusing me of trying to fuck him over. I have to do something. I can feel my body crumbling under the pressure. I’m on a razor’s edge of a stroke. I can feel it. I want to be there for my family. I have to change something.
For me, the first step of setting boundaries is to understand what is my weakest part of self care. Why don’t I have any hobbies? Why don’t I do things that I like to do? Basically, I’m trying to help everyone else. Since there are only so many hours in the day, I put myself last and never take the time to help myself. Since time is the issue, that’s where I need to set my first boundaries. I have to carve out time for myself. I can’t answer every phone call, text, or email as soon as it comes in. I can for a portion of the day, but not all day, every day. People do not return the favor, so they must have better boundaries than I do.
After setting boundaries, I need to enforce them. The ones that abuse my “open boarders” are going to be the ones that throw the biggest fits. That’s so true! I’ve had to make some significant life changes recently. I’ve had to adjust from being reactive to become proactive. If I am being held back just for the sole gain of others, I’ve got to make that change. I have to set that boundary. I’ve made my concerns heard. I’ve informed people that I have to make a change. This person has acknowledge my need for a change, but instead of helping me, I was told, “it’s all of your bad decisions catching up with you.” That was a completely dick move. It was the final straw, the catalyst that pushed me over the edge to make the changes.
This boundary journey is not going to be easy. I have someone that is willing to help me and teach me a few things about them. We will support each other as we learn about what boundaries we both need to set for ourselves. We will attempt to respect these new boundaries as best as we can, and when we’re told that we are violating them, we’ll evaluate ourselves and our own boundaries. We both need the same type of work done on ourselves, but for different reasons. We are both empaths with boundary issues. It might seem like an odd pairing for a couple, but if anyone can get through this, we can!