What’s a Few Boundaries Between Friends?
Everyone has a variety of behaviors they learn to accept from others. Some you feel good about, others you tolerate. Then there are the ones that make you grit your teeth, or even start avoiding certain people.
By the time I reach that avoidance stage, I’m learning I’ve allowed myself to ignore my own discomfort for too long, and need to make some changes. That doesn’t mean dumping friends because, despite the cringe worthy stuff, there are a lot of things I love about the ones I have now. Instead, it means I need to look at the places and times I’m interacting with them, and maybe give myself some space in certain cases.
What I mean is, I need to recognize what circumstances cause them to behave in ways that make me uncomfortable. It could be an activity, or certain people who come into the mix, or even a place. Whatever is causing me to feel cranky is my problem and my job to find a solution I can live with.
Changing Myself Has Altered What I Can Accept From Others
Over the years, as I’ve worked on myself and initiated some much-needed changes, there have been times when I had to take a good, hard look at my associations. I’d like to think I’m making better choices these days, and attracting people who are more in alignment with the person I’ve become. The major purges that left me alone and to my own devices for awhile are no longer necessary. I’ve learned nowadays it often comes down to taking control of my own responses, and reminding myself why I connected with the people in my life in the first place.
Many of those associations…no, let’s put the right word on it. Many of those friendships began through a mutual love of dancing. Though finding a place to gather and share our love was challenging for awhile, it forced us to look at other options and lately, I often have to choose between 2 or 3 amazing options knowing I’ll spend time with at least some of the friends I’ve made, whichever one I choose. (of course, choosing to stay home and veg on the sofa with the cats is always an option, but doesn’t offer the community connection I’ve learned I truly need).
Fortunately, the nights I do choose to stay home are never because I feel the need to avoid someone. There was a time, far in the past now, when that wasn’t the case. I guess you could say the people in my life now, though admittedly wild and crazy in their own way, are far more civilized than many I associated with in what I fondly refer to as “my broken years”.
Getting to the Root of My Anger
I spent many years angry all the time; at myself, at other people, at my job, at my choices—you name it, and I found something about it that pissed me off. I was so mired in my own misery, I couldn’t begin to identify the source. That skill didn’t come until I broke into a million tiny pieces and had to figure out how to put myself back together, but better this time.
It’s a funny thing about shattering; you never find all the pieces, and frankly, some of them aren’t worth finding anyway. You have to learn to sort the useful from the harmful and be willing to toss out pieces which might go either way. Someone once said to me “when in doubt, throw it out”. Of course he was referring to what was, at the time, a mountain of clutter in my home and office, but I’ve learned it applies to pieces of ourselves too. There are so many things we carry around simply because it’s become habit. They serve no purpose, and all too often, hold us back from accomplishing what we’re both capable of and meant to do.
Once again, I’ve meandered quite a ways from the original topic, but as usual, there is a point. Truly.
Shattering is Often the First Step in Recognizing the Need for Boundaries
Shattering so I could rebuild was actually the first step I took in learning how much I needed to set boundaries. The first one I had to set was with myself. I had to let go of the anger and misery and actually face all my bottled up feelings. Let me tell you, it wasn’t a pretty sight when I first started unpacking all of those desiccated, moldy old feelings. Some had been there since childhood and would have been pretty rancid had they not at least partially fossilized. In some ways, I’d have been better off if they hadn’t as it’s been much harder to get past the hard outer shell so I could deal with the soft, gooey parts inside.
Learning to feel anything after a lifetime of wrapping it all in a tight, dubiously impervious ball is not for the weak of heart. If I thought I’d been through hard times before, the process of not only shattering the casings on my feelings, but actually revisiting them one by one, and exposing myself to the lessons they carried was one I truly would not have chosen had it not been utterly necessary.
The truth is, I didn’t enjoy being cranky and miserable. It took awhile to realize it, but I didn’t like being all alone either. I had to learn to “people” on my own terms (this is where the boundaries began to come in), and discover I didn’t hate people as much as I wanted to believe. I learned I’d spent decades attracting people who were, in their own way, a lot like me; sad, lonely, angry, and bitter.
Bitterness Wrapped in Anger is an Unpalatable Appetizer
Only when I admitted to myself that the bitterness was encased in those pent-up feelings did I realize I would attract kinder, happier, more compassionate ones when I found those qualities in myself; albeit buried far beneath my crusty surface.
In the process, I learned we all have baggage, and we don’t have to spend our lives hiding it from the world. Granted, we don’t have to run it up a flag pole and wave it in all our naked glory for the entire world. Once again, we establish boundaries. In this case, it’s more about who we attract with what we reveal.
Those who are put off, or made uncomfortable will avert their eyes. That’s as it should be. Those who can relate, or feel compassion will interact insofar as they are willing or able. Some may approach and get angry, not because we’ve said something offensive, but because we’ve nicked a wound they’re not ready to re-open. They’ll shut the door (another form of boundary) and lock it if they want to continue hiding that wound, or leave themselves an option to re-open it when they’re ready and able.
Seeing New Changes Coming From My Discomfort
It’s made me realize that the behaviors which are currently making me feel uncomfortable have to do with wounds I am not yet ready to re-open, clean out, and cauterize. I have to sit on them for awhile, dealing with others that aren’t quite so painful or raw. The time to re-open those which are currently making me pull back and practice a drastically mellowed hermit behavior will come in time.
The truth is, the discomfort right now means I’ll be re-opening them sooner rather than later. Otherwise, like those I make uncomfortable with my forthrightness, I’d have slammed and locked the door instead of looking more deeply into myself to try to understand my reactions.
Can you relate? Are you finding that certain people in your family or community are suddenly doing things that annoy you? Irritate you? Even piss you off? Try taking a step back and looking at what part of you their actions are bothering. You might be surprised by what you find! If you’re like me, you’ll poke at some of those feelings for awhile before allowing yourself to open them up, deal with them, and ultimately, let them go.
Gratitude Makes Revisiting Old Feelings a More Pleasant Trip
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the insight I gain from my friends.
- I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned about kindness and compassion.
- I’m grateful for the shattering I underwent. It might have been painful, but it was also healing, and uplifting.
- I’m grateful for healthy friendships which make me try to be a better person.
- I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, inspiration, love, friendship, supportiveness, compassion, kindness, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward