I have never been one to have boundaries. I was raised by a single mom and have only sisters, so there weren’t many clear boundaries when I was growing up. No topic was off the table, we were very open about everything, and I always (and still do) thought it was a very healthy way to operate. However, when I married my husband, I saw firsthand what boundaries really were. He is a strong, silent, “keep it to yourself” kind of guy, and I know as our marriage has progressed, he has just dealt with the fact that I’m an open book.
I also have never felt the need for clear cut, specific boundaries until lately. Unfortunately, a recent conversation with someone I love pushed me into the forefront of boundary setting, and for the first time, I had to draw a clear line in the sand. It wasn’t even for myself, but for my children. I realized quite quickly that when someone prodded me enough, especially where my children are concerned, I can stand up and say, “Enough is enough.” I am no longer anxious about walking away and disengaging from anything I feel negatively affects my family or me.
I wish I could say that it was easy to do, but it was not. I have never really understood boundaries, as it just isn’t in my nature. I have realized in the last several months, however, that it is a necessity of life that I didn’t even know I had the power to take on. You see, being so open, for me, had also turned into a defense mechanism. I know that I have faults, and it has always been so much easier for me to just go ahead and point them out than wonder if others are talking about them behind my back. I’ve usually acknowledged what I have believed others thought about me, and most of it was negative. For example, I am well aware of the change my body has gone through carrying children, and I felt more comfortable standing up and saying, “Ugh, I hate my body” as opposed to the thought of people whispering about it.
But here’s the thing: what if people AREN’T whispering about it? That thought had never occurred to me. What if people don’t judge me based on how I look? What if, instead of this incredibly heavy burden of judgment I have always felt I was under, I’m actually not? Could it be that in almost all cases, I have created the weight myself? The moment that clicked in my mind (and yes, it was an actual light bulb of thought that I can pinpoint down to the second), the game changed.
The truth is (as we’ve all heard many times) that it doesn’t actually matter what people think of us. Let’s say that louder for the ladies in the back. PEOPLE’S OPINIONS DO NOT DEFINE YOU. We hear it, but many of us still live under some sort of awning of other’s opinions. However, their thoughts belong to them, and I don’t have to allow another’s opinion to influence my decision making. As long as I am doing what I truly feel is best for myself and my family: that is what matters.
The release of that responsibility was amazing. In just a short period, my confidence has soared. I am a strong, capable woman who can see challenges at eye level and know that I will and can do what is needed. That doesn’t mean I’m fearless. It means I’m brave. It doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes. Yes, I will fall. BUT WE ALL DO. No one evades failure completely. I know I can take those lessons and move forward while becoming stronger for the experience.
For me, building a fence also came with the breaking down of a wall of unhealthy behavior I had created. I decided that I would not be pushed any farther and chose to turn around and walk away instead of taking continual steps toward the actions that someone else desired of me. In all of this, I also deeply desire to be a good role model for my boys. Would I want them to ever feel pushed into doing something because someone else thinks they should? Not on your life. I now know that I do not have to immediately spill every thought and feeling in my own defense, hoping it is enough to please (even subconsciously) someone else. This realization was very empowering for me. There is no other way I would prefer to walk into a new decade than as a woman who is finally realizing her worth.