One of the biggest things I've struggled with my whole life is boundaries. It's been a long process to truly understand, digest, and put into practice that boundaries are actually healthier for my relationships than not having them. As a people-pleaser, I've always wanted to do whatever I can for those I love - even if it was at the cost of my health or my needs/wants. Now I'm learning that placing boundaries is necessary to healthy relationships, and especially key to a healthy me.
I grew up believing a few things - I'm wondering if anyone else can relate?
I believed that I was selfish.
I believed that in order to be loved, I had to be perfect.
I believed no one wanted to hear my problems.
First Step - Identify Where They Came From
It's an interesting thing to reflect back and identify what you believed as a child and dig through where those beliefs might have come from. Was it something someone said to you or about you? Was it how someone told you to act? Or was it even just something that you perceived was what you needed to do from those around you.
As I've reflected back, I realize how deeply those beliefs have shaped and formed me - for better and worse. In fact, looking at them, screams "Ennegram 2w1" loud and clear to me. For those who don't know the Ennegram, this is a helper with a perfectionism wing. Someone who pushes their own needs aside for others while trying to do everything they can to be perfect. It's an exhausting combo, if I do say so myself.
There are some situations or things that were said to me, that made me believe the above beliefs. Other parts of it seemed to come from the culture I was raised in. Some of it, is probably just a part of who I am. Over the years, as I've reflected on things, I wonder what lies others are believing. What has driven them to be who they are?
Over the last several years, layer by layer, I've been peeling back where these lies stemmed from. I think my therapist who has been with me for a year has heard some stories at least 3 times, but each time, I discover something more about myself and my beliefs. And she is always very patient in listening. And one of the biggest question she asks me: "What would you say to your childhood/teenage/young adult self now?" And can be honest? My heart breaks for that little girl. Grace - I want to shout - grace, you are just a child, let yourself be a child.
Second Step - Call Out the Lies and Shame
My head knows that I'm not selfish, that I don't have to be perfect, and that people do want to listen to my problems (the right people - the safe people). But my heart still has a hard time believing this.
Every time I set a boundary, all I hear is how selfish I am in my head. But every time I set a boundary and it makes a relationship healthier, that voice gets a little bit softer.
Every time I own up to not being perfect, I freak out "will they even like me anymore". But every time I get acceptance, that voice gets a little bit softer.
Every time I open up, I immediately start to apologize "I'm so sorry to unload on you". But every time that safe person acknowledges my hurt, pain, and feelings - the voice gets a little bit softer.
Every time we face the lies and shame, they continue to lose their power and grip over us.
Every time I face those old wounds, telling me the lies I've believe since childhood, more light can shine into the darkness.
Every time my head and my heart are honest with each other and I'm true to myself - I heal just a little bit more and continue on the path towards healing.
Third Step - Be True To Yourself
It's taken me a long time to get here, and I'm still a work in progress- a BIG work in progress. But I hope if you're reading this, you know and hear, we all have childhood wounds and lies we've believed. And whether you resonate with mine, or yours are completely different, I hope you know that who you are is lovely. I hope you know that no matter what your past holds, you can heal. I hope you know that a boundary is not a way to keep people out, but helps to highlight the safe people. The people who respect your boundaries are the keepers. Those are the people who will sit in the tough stuff with you, love you as you are, and walk with you on the path of healing. It's ok - be true to yourself.