Boundaries and Relationships

I’ve spent a lot of time evaluating personal boundaries and relationships of all kinds: family, romantic, work, etc.

One thing that has stood out for me as a key item is the importance of erecting and maintaining personal boundaries. When I think of boundaries, I think of a house with a picket fence or wire fence around the yard – with a gate. Boundaries keep things that belong inside, inside; and what belongs outside, outside. I also think of our bodies; our skin is a boundary. Skin keeps things covered and prevents unwanted and harmful things from getting inside our bodies.

So, boundaries act as barriers. Things can go in and out of boundaries, but on a regulated basis. If something breaches a good boundary, there will be some type of consequence. If we refer to my examples, the fence with the gate is the main access portal into the yard of that home. Then, after you access the yard, you will still need to get through the door to gain proper access inside the home. If someone decides to jump over the fence, or tear it down in some way, then break the door down (or break in through a window), these are unwanted and undesired methods of accessing the yard and home. The owner can call the police, or they may have a dog in the yard that can help the intruder understand that proper access is necessary when crossing the boundaries. Breaching good boundaries will have consequences. Also, for the skin: if someone gets cut, the blood comes out, but platelets (which includes white blood cells and clotting agents) immediately start to work to “plug” the cut. In this way, the breach is repaired to prevent further damage to the body.

As we review these examples, let’s look at our boundaries. It’s necessary to place boundaries around ourselves, our hearts, our personal lives, and our finances. We cannot be all things to all people. There is a limit to what we should allow in our presence, or what we should accept from others. Respect, kindness, fairness, consideration, etc., are attributes that we should offer, expect, and receive from others. When they are not received, we must first evaluate the situation, and then with wisdom and tact we must address the breach if it continues. If the breach continues, we must find ways to minimize or eliminate the source. This is how we maintain our boundaries. If we allow others to cross our boundaries in “illegal” ways continually, then they will be ignored and trampled. This is no different than someone’s home being robbed repeatedly; the thieves know that the owner is not being vigilant and will repeatedly attack their property without fear of barriers being erected to stop them.

So, if your heart is trampled  repeatedly by someone who says they love you, and you accept it over and over, you must find the courage to stop the breach and close the wound. If there are issues where your rights are being dismantled before your eyes and you allow it, the person or institution will assume that you are guilty of what you are being accused of, or that you feel powerless to change the situation and will not fight back. You are the only one who can reverse that tide.  If someone is misusing your funds, or stealing from you, set up measures to stop it – or reverse it.

There are so many ways that we allow boundary breaches and then we pretend to like the outcomes that occur as a result. Sometimes we may feel helpless, as victims of abusers often feel. But here’s the thing: an abuser can only misuse someone who allows them to do so. Although it may be difficult to leave an abuser (of any kind) or stop their unwanted behavior, we must be bold, wise and strong and walk away. If it’s a situation where you cannot leave immediately (e.g. a hostile work situation without another means of income), create an escape plan and act on it as soon as possible.

Just know this: strong boundaries are important and necessary for healthy, long-term relationships of every type. Without good boundaries we will be bleeding into the streets, and our belongings (literally & figuratively) will be misused and abused by those who have no right to access them.

If you’ve discovered that your boundaries are broken and they seem to be destroyed beyond repair, get help from a professional. Everyone deserves to be respected, and hearts deserve to be protected from those who disregard boundaries.

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My Surprise Discovery in Relationships

I’ve been single (again) for a while; in fact, I’m approaching 10 years of separation and almost 9 years of being divorced. This journey has been by far the most rewarding aspect of my life, because the level of personal growth has amazed me. I must emphasize though that it isn’t “fun” being a divorcee or being the participant in a failed marriage. That feeling intensifies when I look at my now towering son, wishing things were otherwise. (Thankfully, he and his dad have a good relationship.)

So, I’ve recently made a startling discovery as I begin the journey to “not be single” – and that discovery is buried pain. Because I came from an emotionally abusive situation, I realized I needed to have a way (or two) to let the pain out and to begin the journey to heal. I signed up for counseling and went religiously for a few years. I started to blog (which is why this blog exists). I started sharing some of my lessons learned in convos with family members and friends.

As time went on, I had the strength to get back out and become active again; I started singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, volunteering on the dental van for the company I used to work for, traveling, and so on. I even signed up the lil guy for sports. I felt I was doing well.

Now, as I’ve opened up my heart to someone new, some of the pain that I thought was resolved started rearing its ugly head. Things that I thought I’d never see again, reappeared. I was not ready for that, and wondered what happened to all the time of counseling, journaling, praying, crying, fasting and so on.

I think I know what happened: I am still on a journey towards healing, but without being in that situation, you won’t know how complete the healing is.

Think of someone playing a sport and spraining or breaking an ankle. They are carried off the field or court and to the ER. X-rays find the extent of the damage; they receive a cast or a wrap, and they are given instructions on how to manage the injury. They may also receive pain meds to take the edge off. In about 6 weeks they return to remove the cast. X-rays show that the bone or ligament is mended. The X-rays may show this fact (the healing), but the true test occurs when that athlete goes back out there and attempts to run, jump, kick or whatever they need to do. Pain may occur. Does it mean that the X-rays were telling lies? Was the machine faulty in what it displayed to the doctor or X-ray technician? No! Healing did take place, but now the ankle needs to be strengthened and conditioned to get it back to where it was (or stronger)! So the next step needs to be some type of physical therapy, and strengthening exercises. Once the athlete has completed required conditioning for their ankle, they will be able to run, kick, jump and do whatever else they need to do, and probably even better than before.

So here’s my heart; I have gone through the process of healing. My spirit is no longer hostile towards my ex-spouse. I can honestly say that I care what happens to him as the father of our son. So these feelings that resurfaced may just mean that my heart needs some conditioning and possibly more therapy as I adjust to changes.

I can also say this: anyone who has been through a traumatic situation must consider the importance of continued counseling. Get things off your mind, heart and spirit so that you can grow and become all that you need to be. Also, if you are dating seriously, talk through your fears or issues with that person so they can begin to understand your response to things. Here is another important point: Do not neglect or ignore pre-marital counseling. In fact, I highly recommend pre-engagement counseling as well so you are assured that you are heading in the right direction with your intended. This is highly recommended for people who want to marry again.

So that’s all, until next time!

My Journey Continues: How I’m Continuing to Heal from Divorce

I am on a journey as I continue to heal from my divorce that took place several years ago.

Here is one thing I did:

1. I made a conscious decision to LIVE. At first it was a difficult decision because I loved my ex and I did not want to be a single mother. But as time went by, I was determined to keep my son alive and minimized the effects of single parenting as much as I was able.

To read more from my latest BMWK post, click here!

 

 

Another Black and Married with Kids.com Article: “Does Real Love Hurt?”

Hi again,

Here is another newly featured article on Black and Married with Kids.com! Feel free to visit and comment!

http://www.blackandmarriedwithkids.com/2013/09/does-real-love-hurt/

Another Black and Married with Kids Article!

Here is my newest post on Black and Married with Kids.com. I pray it encourages all who read it. http://www.blackandmarriedwithkids.com/2013/08/the-pain-was-unbearable-my-journey-to-healing-after-divorce/

Are You In Danger? Pay Attention to the Signs!

This post will be very different from anything I’ve ever written before. I believe it is for someone in particular.

You may be in a relationship and you’re wondering if what you are experiencing can be classified as an abusive relationship. Here is a tip: If you are afraid to be yourself and you do NOT feel safe (even when nothing dramatic is happening), you are being abused. 

I was married before, and you can read about some of the experiences I had in my book:    “It’s My Life and I Live Here: One Woman’s Story“. There were moments when I feared being hurt physically and other moments when I felt the urge to run for my life, so this post is based on my personal circumstances in the past.

Here are some of the signs you should look for to confirm your feelings:

1. They seemed to have changed overnight. They were charming and accommodating when the relationship was new. Now that you have been together for a while or your living situation has changed (i.e. you’ve moved in together or you’ve gotten married) they seem to display a “Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde” personality.

2. Your feelings and strong convictions/beliefs are being invalidated. If you are loved, your feelings and opinions about something will not be squashed, laughed at or minimized. You will not be labeled as “over-sensitive”. Your personal beliefs and convictions will not be belittled or ridiculed.

3. You are being limited or prevented from doing things you loved to do in the past. If you always went for a run after work in the park and now that you are with them you cannot go because he (or she) is giving you a hard time consistently for any reason, pay attention.

4. You cannot see your friends and family freely. This includes being able to invite them over for visits or you going out with them or seeing them. HUGE red flag – Pay Attention!

5. You seem to know very little about who they REALLY are. When someone seems to know you much better than you know them, you are in a very vulnerable position. Being too predictable and having a “set schedule” also makes it easy for abusers to control their victims.

6. You cannot seem to meet their friends, and you have very limited interaction with their family members. If they always have an excuse on why you can never meet or hang out with their friends or why their family members never visit even when you ask, pay attention.

7. They tend to guilt-trip you into doing things against your wishes. Did you REALLY want to go to that event, or did they make you feel bad so you felt obligated to attend?

8. Every conversation or argument seems to turn against you. Are you always to blame – directly or indirectly – for something that did not turn out right? Is EVERYTHING your fault? In reality, no one particular person can be at fault for everything that goes wrong in a relationship. That would mean that the other person is perfect, and that is impossible.

9. You are punished in some shape or form for speaking your mind. This is similar to the second point listed, but it’s still different. Are you made to feel the effect of something you said to them two days ago? Do they withdraw, act out, manipulate or take away something you love because you “went against them”? Pay attention.

10. They move things around a room or a home to make you think you’re going crazy. This is termed “gaslighting“. This is an attempt to alter your perception of reality and situations so you will end up depending on them to give the “real story” of things that happen. You will ask a question because you don’t trust something that you see or hear and they will give you a very plausible answer to make you believe that your instincts are incorrect. When you fall for the bait, you find out later that you were tricked. Here is where ultimate control of an abuse victim occurs, and feelings of helplessness abound. If you find yourself wondering “Now wasn’t the sofa always in that corner, why is it here now?” or “I know I left my book here!” and they begin to make it seem that you are the person who isn’t remembering facts correctly, TAKE HEED!

11. Lying – and lying for NO seemingly apparent reason. Please note that every lie is calculated. It may seem unnecessary to lie about simple things, but the abuser’s purpose is to ensnare you!

12. There is always a threat being issued – whether to hurt you, your children or your pets, or to destroy something of value to you. When I was married I owned a beautiful truck. I gave serious pause when I was threatened and was told that my tires would be slashed or screws would be scattered on the driveway to destroy my tires. Why? Because I took away my ex’s set of truck keys because he would drive my truck on escapades without me and return it with the tank almost empty.

13. You feel as if you’re being watched, even when no-one is around. My marital home had a camera almost everywhere. I was told it was to protect us from thieves, etc. Our neighborhood wasn’t known for thefts. Eventually I realized (after watching a video recording of our driveway that ran for a few hours) that the cameras were watching ME. Don’t forget that cameras do not only “see” but they also record sounds.

14. They pick fights for no apparent reason. This behavior usually happens when they are guilty of stepping out on the relationship and want to find a way to justify the behavior. “She makes me mad all the time, so I had to cheat.”

15. You cannot seem to find the time to relax or rest. They will have you busy from sun-up to sundown while they always find the time to get away to relax. This is especially true if you have children together.

These are just a few of the signs of abuse. Whoever this is for, please do not play with this situation! Get help, and GET OUT! An abuser does not become better with time, nor do they remain passive over time. It usually starts mildly, then it gets more sinister and bewildering over time. Physical abuse always follows mental and emotional abuse.  Their main objective is to CONTROL and USE you for their purposes. Once they have you under their command, it can be difficult to break free. They will pretend to “get better” or change, especially when people they want to impress are around. Truthfully, they’ve found a better way to fool you and keep you around.

They cannot be appeased. You cannot “love them out” of abuse. They need professional help to break free from abuse, and they have to want the help themselves.

Leaving them has to be done in wisdom to ensure your safety and the safety of your children or other loved ones. Many possessive partners “snap” when the person they’ve controlled steps away from their trap.

I pray that whoever this is for will heed the warnings and move quickly to safety and sanity. God will restore any material thing you may lose in the process of leaving. TRUST GOD. He is your Provider and Protector.

Please feel free to email me at shellylove2002@gmail.com if you have any questions.

The Journey Begins, One Step At A Time (Oct 2009)

I started on a new journey 4 years exactly, almost to the date. I remember my nervousness as I packed my things and those of my son and made a quick exit on a rainy fall night. I was nervous because it seemed crazy to those who were outsiders looking in that I would leave what seemed like a perfect situation. But those who lived inside knew that it was only a facade. Very little was real aside from the fact that we were human beings using our correct (“government”) names.

Continue reading “The Journey Begins, One Step At A Time (Oct 2009)”