I was raised that you give your own shirt off your back to anyone who asks. It’s a wonderful concept. However, if you are swimming in shark infested waters, it is an open invitation for mental extermination. I am a push over. Walk me through a convention…and the first sales person to ask me to hand them something I don’t want to (last time, my brand new glasses!) to do something to them I don’t want them to do…I CAN’T say NO! I don’t want to hurt them or let them down! I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of times I lent CDs (yes, I am old) I’d never see again, clothes, money, you name it, I gave it. Against my better judgement I would do things because I could not stand hurting the person asking. I would feel the stress and anxiety pulsate from my body as I did it, knowing I was about to be fucked over so bad. After many years, I became a human punching bag. I gave so much of myself and received so little that I would find myself locked away in my home, curtains drawn, with no desire to venture into the outside world. I was so mentally exhausted. I would beat myself up for not being happy I was helping everyone! I MUST be a bad person for not finding great joy in helping every single person that walked by me! How evil of me! Honestly, I felt like a wounded animal. I kept pouring from my reserves and never got them refilled. I was running on almost empty and full of anxiety.
I know a few people who are the same way that are or have morphed into bitter and deeply hurt people. My future was clear. I would give so much of myself that I would cease to exist. I would not nurture my needs and or wants because I could not stop sacrificing everything I had to anyone who wanted it. Imagine how this went down in Hollywood! Many of you know how deeply I was hurt…and just how wicked those were who took advantage of my giving nature. Hell, after being cheated on with a HOOKER while someone I loved DIED IN MY ARMS …the guy somehow convinced me HE was the victim! Instead of throwing him onto his face in the fucking street, I was somehow convinced to aid HIM in HIS therapy to heal HIS demons! I permitted him to stay in my house as he went on his journey to heal from the horrific bullshit he did to ME. No surprise, it was all a lie. This guy had studied books on how to manipulate people…and I was a GREAT subject. MRS. PUSH-OVER!
I started seeing therapists and reading self help books on how to best protect myself and establish boundaries in my life. This does not mean I don’t give to people and still share acts of kindness. This simply means I refuse to give so much of myself that I become a zombie. When I met my husband, I used to think he could be a real dick sometimes. Why? He had healthy boundaries in place so that he did not force himself to constantly be in harmful situations to his mental well being. He did not give away all his stuff to everyone who asked. He did not drag his NON DRINKING ass to a bar to be miserable with a bunch of drunk people when he did not feel like being in that scene. Basically, everything I would do (and end up miserable inside for having done it) he would say no to. After a while, I realized…this wasn’t him being a dick. This was someone with VERY healthy boundaries established to protect himself. If a car broke down on the road, without hesitation, he would jump out and help the people push it….If a neighbor needs snow plowed, he will do it AND shovel their porch AND throw down salt! However, if someone asks him to spend his day working for them at a place he doesn’t want to go…doing something that makes him highly uncomfortable…without hesitation, HE SAYS NO! I have found myself in dangerous situations because I could not speak up in fear that I was a bad person for not bending over backwards for anyone who asked. I have been sexually assaulted because I did NOT follow my gut and did NOT set a healthy boundary for myself and put myself into harms way. All because I didn’t want to inconvenience others. Matthew calls me the worlds biggest push over. He is not wrong.
I admired his ability to self protect. I read MORE books on boundaries. He may be a little more extreme than I want to be, but if I can establish a quarter of the boundaries he has, it would make for a MUCH happier life. Oddly, a lot of people see my journey into self protection as some selfish thing. I should be HAPPY to be miserable all the time giving so much of myself I am crawling on my belly, full of anxiety and regret..being taken advantage of till there is nothing left of my soul. I must be a bad person if I do not find immense joy in ONLY giving and having NO boundaries for myself. I find myself questioning if trying to live a happier and healthier life for MYSELF for once is me being a bad and selfish person. Then, I smack myself in the head because this line of thinking is EXACTLY what got me taken advantage of ALL THE TIME. I am a BETTER person because of the boundaries I have established. I am happier. I am mentally healthier. I am not full of anxiety and stress, stuck in impossible situations I couldn’t say no to. If I have bad knees, why the fuck should I sign up for the charitable long jump contest? My old guilt would FORCE me to. The new boundaries I established tell me.. “HEY! You have BAD KNEES! This will INJURE YOU BADLY! SAY NO!” About to go on a romantic date that you are hoping to “reconnect” with your husband with some happy fun bedroom time? When your friend suggests they tag along…SAY NO! Sorry, you kill the sex mood and I am looking to get laid and reconnect with my husband and your presence does NOT aid that, dude. Old me would have let that friend ruin a month long planned romantic evening. New me? Sorry, buddy. This is simply NOT the night for a third wheel. I still struggle with feeling like a bad person, even as I feel the mental relief of saying NO to something I did not want to do course through my veins. I mean, my body SAGS into a chair with immense relief. If that is how I am reacting to saying no to doing something, then it MUST have been the right choice for me. If someone wants to think I am selfish or a bad person for finally wanting to love myself enough to establish boundaries that aid my mental and physical well being…..fine. Think that. Your way of doing things was destroying my soul.
Healthy boundaries make us better people for everyone around us. It does not make me a bad person to finally take care of myself instead of constantly throwing myself down a slide of jagged glass to make everyone around me happy. That is such a martyr mentality, so unhealthy. It is why I stayed in toxic friendships, toxic relationships…why I put myself in dangerous situations for myself mentally and physically…..if you live your life ONLY to please everyone else and do NOT take care of yourself…you will turn into a bitter, angry and broken shell of who you used to be. Protecting ourselves should not be seen as a selfish act. We do not live in a world full of wonderful people with our best interests at heart. It took me a very long time to realize the way I was living was exhausting me. I LOVE to do nice things for people…but no longer at the expense of my own happiness and mental well being.
Amazon has some GREAT books on establishing boundaries. If you are a mental pushover, feeling anxiety and stress over all the things you are doing that you are NOT comfortable doing….but do it to make OTHERS happy….you may want to invest in healing this toxic and damaging mindset. Jesus died on the cross so WE don’t have to…I don’t believe in god, but I think that saying holds some weight. Only the son of a deity could give that much of themselves happily and it not destroy who they are….hell…even he had his doubts!