It’s taken me far too long to learn this lesson. There was a time when I would set a boundary, put a measure in place only to take it away again when I realised it upset the other person. Why? It’s a pointless and futile exercise and that’s really how people were able to walk all over me. And I’m not just talking about in my abusive relationship. I’m talking in general, friends, family, colleagues, even shop assistants and waitresses or bar staff. I mean let’s face it, none of us like it when someone puts a measure in place that we don’t like and we’re all guilty of trying to manipulate things into our favour aren’t we? Like I said before, we can’t control what others do, but we can control our reaction to it.
You see the thing is, I’ve noticed as I’ve matured and as I’ve become a parent is that a lot of people cannot cope with being told “no” which however you sugar coat it, is what putting a boundary in place is. I suppose to certain extent it stems back to childhood, I’m going through it now, trying to teach little P to understand the word no and that it means something isn’t going to happen no matter how much she kicks and screams (it’s tough but I’m sticking to my guns, this kid will learn who’s the sheriff in town) because she has to learn to accept boundaries. But also so do us adults.
However, as adults we often don’t do we, whether big or small at some point we all have moments where we don’t like when someone has said no to something. When someone has said they won’t do something or sing to your tune. It’s like the analogy I’ve heard used for sexual consent using a cup of tea as an example. If someone said no to a cup of tea, you wouldn’t pour it down their neck would you? Yet if someone tells us they don’t want to work late, that they don’t want to go to the pub, we try persuade them, sometimes actually with the best of intentions at heart but not always. If someone tells us they don’t want us to say or do x, y or z, we sometimes try to convince them otherwise.
I’d say in lots of situations in particular my marriage but also in many others, I’ve put a boundary in place, telling someone I didn’t like the way they were treating me or that I didn’t want to do or go somewhere and then went back on it. My marriage was the worst, I kept standing up to the domestic abuse putting a boundary in place for if it continued, then when it did I didn’t follow through with going. Until I finally did. And that’s what’s key but the hard part. Setting the boundary is easy, if you don’t like the way a person is treating you it’s often quite easy to put the boundary in place. Sticking to it is what can me hard, walking away from what’s not good for you is what can be difficult. Especially when it’s a friendship or relationship but it’s also necessary if you are going to be happy.
I did it recently, someone pushed something too far and I said no, that’s not an acceptable way to speak to me. I was then given quite a manipulative reply, trying to throw the blame on me and for the first time in my life I didn’t apologise. Because I didn’t need to, I hadn’t done anything wrong, I’d just politely asked someone not to speak to me in such away and the fact remains that whatever had gone on before didn’t really matter, at that moment in time I didn’t like the tone they’d used so I put a boundary in place and it was up to them to deal with it. Ultimately how they did and felt was not really my problem. And that’s another key phrase I’ve been coining lately. That’s not my problem.
So here I am, setting boundaries and sticking to them, because I and everyone e else deserves to be treated with respect.