Ramshackled Walls

If Gratitude is foundational to inner healing, so are boundaries. I bought the book, “Boundaries” while I was receiving therapy for domestic violence. It was there that I learned what boundaries really are. I had a few boundaries, thank God, but for all the wrong reasons. Also, I did not enforce them well. I had some seriously ramshackled walls for my boundaries. Boundaries It was there, in therapy, that I began to get the concepts and learn why I had so few. I had a mother who knew no boundaries. She was highly manipulative. Of course I am not saying she was a horrible mother at all. She was actually very loving, funny and a hard worker. I learned many things from her. The concept of Boundaries was just not one of them.
My mom would literally change everyone’s bedrooms to different locations. I could come home from school, go to my bedroom, and my sisters bedroom was there and decorated. I would have to search the house to find my new room. If she did not like what I had on the wall, she simply went in and threw it away. It didn’t matter that I liked it. She was also never satisfied. She complained a lot. I heard many complaints on my sisters. They all had moved out of the home and she was not happy that they were not doing things exactly her way. My dad was disabled and didn’t work. I think he found it mildly entertaining for us to have to search for our room. My mom was so dissatisfied that she routinely had my twin brother go outside and move the bushes and flowers to different locations from time to time. My first memory of the landscape rearrange was a well established azalea bush. I can remember at age 9 or 10 thinking, “mama has really lost it”. I laugh now but then it did not feel so good. It also facilitated a pattern of unease and complaining in me. It also taught me I had no say in any matter and boundaries. This was also due, in part, to the fact that I did not know the word until I was in my late 20’s. It was years later that I understood she grew up during the depression, poor and without a father. She never remembers her mom saying I love you. Therapy was not a thing then.

I won’t go into the details of the book Boundaries, why reinvent the wheel. But, reading it, I began to understand what they were and why I needed them. When healing from wounding, setting new healthy boundaries is the next foundational thing a person can do. Gratitude reminds you of the Heavenly Father’s love . When we are reminded of that love, we understand how valued we are . When we understand that love and worth, proper boundaries can be set.

But how do I set boundaries? Also, what are they really? I am a counselor by trade. My first job was one-on-one counseling and group counseling. “Boundaries” was the name of the group I led. Even though I learned boundaries, teaching this course and seeing things through my clients eyes helped me grow even more. A boundary lets people know how we want to be treated. A boundary tells another how we operate in our spaces. I found that working with my clients, they had no idea what a boundary was and how to set them. The most revealing thing was, they did not understand the concept of personal values. So, helping them build or establish boundaries at the rehab facility was a challenge. I modified the curriculum and added a worksheet on values. Our culture determines how we express our values. As we grow, travel and have families our boundaries change. Some of our boundaries are not static.

So you want to set a boundary? First you must define your values. Values are what you deem important as you go about your life. I value education. So when I was in college I set boundaries. I would not allow my friends to call at a certain time. I understood that when my friends wanted to go out to eat or shopping, I could not . I had a paper deadline to meet and needed to maintain my GPA. My friends did not ask me to go shopping on certain days. If they did call on the times that I set aside, I knew it was an emergency. If someone wanted to be a boundary breaker, I just blocked their number for a few hours so I would not receive the calls. Sometimes I turned off my phone. Setting them up early and enforcing them early in my college career helped me in spades later. Setting up goals and guards around those things you value are boundaries. When you are in a DV situation you need to work closely with your counselor on the deeper boundaries. This is just a light explanation.

A few words of caution: Never set a boundary you do not have the emotional strength to enforce. You will lose respect from those around you, especially the boundary buster. You will encounter resistance, and those around you will test you to see if you mean what you say. You may lose a relationship over your new found boundaries. But, if you do, then, there was never truly a relationship to begin with. The book “Boundaries” is a phenomenal read. Even though it is an older book, it is still a highly successful seller on the market. Putting these boundaries in place and practicing them has given me great strength and more peace. I have learned who my true friends are through establishing and enforcing them. My friends are safe people and I am a much richer person.


The Coffee House Counselor.com

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

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