Learning to set Boundaries

boundaries, self worth, standing up for yourself, speaking your truths

I’ll preface this post with saying that I’ve never been good at setting boundaries. Lack of self-confidence meant that I’ve let others walk all over me for most of my life. I was always too afraid to stand up for myself. I’d do anything to avoid a confrontation. Over the years this has lead to a lot of frustration, resentment and anger at myself. I’d imagine having conversations with people, but when it came to the crunch, I’d avoid it like hell.

Through all of the inner work that I’ve been doing over the last few years, this is one thing that keeps coming back up. I fully believe that life will keep sending you lessons over and over until you finally learn what it is trying to teach you. So a couple of weeks ago, I unexpectedly found out that a relative had bad-mouthed me behind my back. This happened quite a few years ago, when my ex-husband and I were splitting up. I don’t know the full extent of what she said about me {the person she told was trying to spare my feelings} though all of it was reasons why it was my fault that my husband was unfaithful.

The one reason that she had for his behaviour was because I was still feeding my 20 month old baby. She was excusing his behaviour, saying that he cheated because his wife was breastfeeding their baby. Also that I was getting more out of it {the breastfeeding} than the baby. Now – extended breastfeeding has a whole host of benefits for the baby but that’s another post for another day. Also I need to rant about a society that still has ridiculously low expectations of men and the high expectation that women should put a mans needs ahead of their own and their children.

I was so angry when I found out. Hurt a little too. But angry was my defining emotion. I long ago stopped caring what others think of me. She is not a person that I have any great love for, so her opinion is just that. Hers.

What made me angry was the two-faced-ness of her behaviour. Around the time she was saying these things {which I have no doubt were told to countless other people}, she was messaging me with words of support and friendship. She was bitching about me behind my back, whilst expecting me to welcome her into my home.

While it was an old incident, and part of me said just leave it, it was years ago. A bigger part of me shouted NO. By not calling people out on their bad behaviour, we are as good as condoning it. By not standing up for ourselves, we are teaching our children to not stand up for themselves.

At first, the thought of saying something made me feel sick. I realised that I’ve been conditioned to keep quiet, to not rock the boat, to not make others uncomfortable to make myself feel safer, to smooth over any issues rather than talking about them.

And that is something that I refuse to do any longer. I want my children to see their Mama as unafraid to stand up for what is right, unafraid to call out others on their bullshit, unafraid to rock the boat. When the time is right, I will confront this. I don’t think that we always need to have a face-to-face confrontation with people over things that they have said or done. Sometimes it is helpful – in this case, while the time isn’t right this minute, I feel like I need/want to clear the air – say my peace to show myself that I have the right to be heard, and then move on. Sometimes it’s enough to acknowledge what happened to yourself, then separate yourself from that person. Drawing boundaries with no explanation. That’s just as important a lesson to learn – that we are allowed to set our boundaries and don’t have to give any explanation to anyone.

This is one of the biggest lessons I have to learn, it’s been on my mind for a few weeks, so when this situation arose I knew it was a sign that this is what I have to work on right now. To move forward, I have to learn to stand up for myself, to understand that my feelings are valid and just as important as anyone else’s. That I don’t have to push my feelings down in case I upset somebody else. I am not responsible for anyone’s feelings other than my own.

So here I am. Setting boundaries. Saying no to putting up with other peoples bullshit. Removing toxic people from my life. Getting on with living my life and not letting other peoples beliefs worry me.

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