One of the things I have struggled most with in my life is boundaries. As a people pleaser and having low self-esteem, boundaries were not really something I was good at. I would set them but then proceed to let people blow right past them. I have grown a bit as time has gone and made my share of mistakes in relationships. Good lord, there have been some train wrecks, but the one thing I have finally started to learn is boundaries. Now boundaries are tricky things because, for me, it’s drawing a line in the sand. You set the boundaries, you articulate your boundaries so the other person is clear on what they are and then (and this is the part that makes being an adult suck) you have to enforce those boundaries if the other people do not respect them. That was the piece I never seemed to get for most of my life – the enforcement. And the deal with enforcing boundaries is you have to know that if the other person chooses to not respect those boundaries after you have discussed how they have crossed them and that you are not budging on those boundaries, then you have to be willing to walk away. And that, my friend, is the position I find myself in this week.
My boyfriend of 9 months and I were amazing together. My God, we had so much fun. We could do anything and have fun together from going out to a restaurant to making a run to the dump. We never ran out of things to talk about and we liked so many of the same things. We love guns, love log cabins, we are both affectionate and caring and he honestly told me he loved me and how beautiful I was every single day and more than once a day. It was amazing. But like any real life story, there is always that part of “real life” that you need to deal with. My boyfriend was with a lady for about 6 years. She has three grown children and 4 grandchildren. She and my boyfriend owned a business together as well and were even engaged to be married. The business went in to bankruptcy, the engagement fell apart, and they eventually moved out to separate homes. Unfortunately for me, they never actually broke up emotionally. He was still acting just like he did when they were together – babysitting the granddaughter a couple days a week, giving them money and being at his ex’s beck and call whenever she wanted anything. Same with her daughter, he would jump whenever she needed anything, whether it was money, help, etc. My boyfriend and his ex talked or texted every single day multiple times a day. At first I made it clear (boundary setting) that if the ex was going to be in his life everyday, that there were too many people in that relationship. We started dating and I fell head over heels and that is when I let my boundaries fall down. I tried to be okay with it and for a while I fooled myself that it was okay, but eventually my body started to tell me otherwise. I started to have numbness and nausea and ended up in Emergency worried that I was having a stroke or a heart attack. Turns out no, it was my body telling me I was NOT okay with this situation.
Back it up a few weeks, we started having discussions about this whole ex thing the end of October. There issues about him supporting them and issues around the daughter and his ex that I was not okay with. We talked and then decided he would make some changes. Fast forward to this past week and my body started to scream at me to pay attention. I was NOT okay with things as they were and my boundaries were being trampled over. We had numerous talks about how I felt and I tried to explain to him why I had issues with this situation. Finally last night I realized that I needed to push him to tell me where he was at with all of this. I knew by pushing back and setting my boundaries that I either had to enforce them and be willing to walk away if it came to that or shut up and just deal with it. Since my body was screaming at me, I knew Option B of shut up and put up wasn’t really an option.
So, yesterday we sit down and we have the “Boundaries Conversation”. I knew going in it that I may not like how it ends and that if he wasn’t willing or able to accept my boundaries that I would have to walk away. I had one last shred of hope that he would see that I was serious (notwithstanding I had said in so many words that this ex situation as it was is a deal breaker) and we could figure out a way around this. I have to say, I was some surprised and disappointed to find out that I was going to have to in fact walk away. It breaks my heart because we were so amazing together but I am also proud of myself because I stood my ground, was firm on my boundaries and didn’t back down, even in the face of losing something and someone who has meant the world to me. I am also proud of myself for realizing and believing that I deserve to be in a relationship when I am first and to not allow something that is not right for me to go on and not say anything. I had 9 wonderful months but I did not spend the next 9 months or 9 years hoping things would get better.
Yesterday my respect for myself went way up. For once I am standing my ground, speaking my truth and not allowing others to disrespect me or minimize me. Was it easy? Um, no. I am still processing it and will for days to come. I think I am sort of numb at the moment. I will process and distill the lessons from this situation. There are a few lessons to be had. I am going to think about it and most likely blog about it over the next while. In the meantime, I can be proud of myself for finally standing up for myself and speaking my truth, for not allowing others to convince me I am wrong or unworthy and for being my own best friend.
Life is always providing us with lessons, even when we don’t particularly want them. But you know, as hard as moments like these are, I am grateful because I come out of it stronger and better.