When we say the word 'boundaries' we imagine being fenced in, confined, trapped. It makes us think of the edge of the field at school where we weren't allowed to pass.
(Of course we did skip the fence - totes pushed those boundaries!)
Yet boundaries actually allow us to feel MORE free. Understanding our own boundaries and sticking to them makes it easier to choose.
It gives us integrity (doing what you say you do even when no one knows).
When choosing, people, relationships, events, activities.
When I first met my husband I was broken. I had taken an overdose a few weeks before. Not because I wanted to kill myself but because I wanted to be loved. (I was loved but I didn't feel it for whatever reason.)
And the man who would later become my husband said all the right things and I fell in love quicker than I have ever done before.
Actually now I know him and looking back I know that I fell in love with the idea of him much more quickly than I fell in love with him.
Tall, dark, handsome, exotic soldier with a strong personality and a 'take no shit' attitude.
At that stage in my life, I had no set boundaries.
I just wanted to be loved.
I of course had an idea of how I believed a man should treat a woman. How a man should speak to a woman. How a man should love a woman.
I am an educated, intelligent and emotionally intelligent woman.
Yet my former husband, as he came to be, did not treat, speak to or love me the way I believed a man should.
Not even from the very early days.
And because of my desperation to be loved, along with my lack of real personal boundaries and self-awareness, gradually my standards slipped to meet his.
I found out a few months in to our relationship that he still had another girlfriend.
Of course he told me it had been over for months and she was just clinging on to him and she was a pain in the ass and gobby and didn't want to let him go but he didn't want to be with her.
(I wonder if he's said those words to anyone recently?!)
The first time he spoke to me with his vile tongue I was shocked.
I screamed back at him and told him it was disgusting and I wouldn't put up with it and that he was never to speak to me in that way again.
And he told me like it or lump it - if I didn't like it I knew where the door was.
So I said don't be stupid and that I loved him and that it wasn't OK but just don't do it again.
But of course, he did again and again.
Until I was desensitised to it.
He was never affectionate with me, never held me like he loved me.
He wasn't present when we were together. Always seeming like he was thinking about something else rather than really listening, really being there for ME.
At first I thought it's 'just him' and 'I love him so I accept every part'...
But by the time I started to realise that none of this was OK, I was in too deep. I was addicted. He was a bad habit and I couldn't kick it. A habit that lasted 11 years.
Now of course I understand here that the problem wasn't with him, but with me.
I understand that people all have their own stories, their own standards and that my issue here was with my own lack of boundaries NOT with him or his.
I have always chosen to see the best in people, to give them the benefit of the doubt. But this hasn't always served me.
So now I STILL CHOOSE to see the best in people.
Yet now, if I find myself in a position where something feels off, I have boundaries.
Boundaries to say no, or this hurts, or not this way, or not this person, or not this place.
And honestly a lot of these boundaries have come thanks to him.
Thanks to understanding where I allowed my standards to be manipulated by another person.
Understanding the enormous gulf between the way I allowed myself to be treated and what I KNOW now is acceptable to me.
He's taught me that self-love is the most important love and without it we simply aren't going to have adequate boundaries.
I know to trust and love everyone but not to accept people or situations that feel out of alignment.
Get to know yourself. Get to love yourself more than you love anyone else. And set boundaries for yourself.