One of my absolute favorite bloggers – Eat My Scabs – did a post today about boundaries: Step 2: Set Your Boundaries. She gave a few questions and fill in the blank sentences and challenged us all to complete them. I loved the exercise and the questions really got me thinking. I decided to share my answers here on my blog as well as submitting them on her original post.
Introduce yourself, your current obsession and one word to describe your mood today.
I am just another person on this journey to marriage healing. I have recently realized that I’m codependent, and I’m working to free myself from the tangles of my husband’s sex addiction and focus on me. My current obsession is with self-expression, especially with my body. In the last few months I have gotten fuchsia streaks in my hair, a nose ring, and a new tattoo. I have another tattoo being drawn up right now. My mood today is a bit morose. The weather has been dreary, I could have stayed in bed all day, and my husband has taken my recent detachment as license to stop having real conversations with me.
The craziest reaction I got from setting boundaries was… my husband saying “I don’t know what this (gesturing toward me) is all about” and walking out of the house. He returned home several hours later, but he was not happy with my boundaries. He didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t going to accept his bad attitude or react by screaming and yelling back.
My favorite boundary and consequence is… I don’t know yet. My favorite boundary is honesty in this marriage because it is the one thing I absolutely need the most. It is also the one my husband seems to be struggling with the most. As for consequences, I haven’t figured it out all the way. Right now the consequence is that I won’t share my bed with someone who continues to lie to me. That consequence will stand until I feel safe again. When that will happen I have no clue.
My biggest boundary failure was when… I didn’t stick to my request for him to get individual counseling after I discovered his affair and again after I caught him breaking his word about something important. Both times I put an expectation out there that I couldn’t be in a relationship with someone who was unfaithful or who was constantly lying to me. However, I didn’t set any real consequence (me getting mad at him, being hurt and upset obviously wasn’t enough). Of course he didn’t go, and I just let it go. I told myself he was doing other things. I told myself it was okay, that he was okay. I told myself everything except what I should have told myself – if he won’t get help then you need to get out. I paid the price for that after we were married because his lying, hiding ways had been reinforced for years by my lack of action and follow-through.
I got in the biggest trouble when I broke this boundary… don’t steal. I was caught shoplifting. It was an incredibly selfish, stupid decision that I made in a time when my life was out of control. I had the money to pay for the stuff, I just couldn’t bring myself to splurge on myself, and instead chose to stick it in my purse. I did pay the price. Literally – thousands of dollars for a lawyer, restitution and court fees. I stayed out of jail, but I have a misdemeanor record. Stupid me!
The most successful boundary/consequence I’ve worked on is… not doing for others what they should (and can) do for themselves. I am at peace with saying that I will not accept responsibility for something that is his to deal with. I am getting much better at not feeling guilty if/when he falls on his face. I would like to be able to echo what another poster responded with: “Being willing to say I will not accept blame, lying, anger, or victim behavior from my husband and seeking distance from him when that happens.” I am still working on this one. It takes real effort for me to disengage and “seek distance” rather than continuing to respond.
If I could break any social boundary it would be… the understanding that we should all keep up a façade. Wouldn’t it be nice if “fine” or “great” weren’t the only socially accepted and expected responses to “How are you doing today?” What if we could all just be honest all of the time? I bet we would all feel less pressure to be perfect if we had the understanding of how imperfect we all feel all of the time.
My favorite quality in a man is… honesty (I’m sensing a theme here) and wit. I love a man who can be unexpected and funny just by telling it like it is.
My favorite quality in a woman is… genuineness. I am drawn to women who are straight-forward and confident in themselves just as they are.
If I could go back one decade and change anything is would be… I missed this question when I was reading the original post. If I could go back one decade and change something about my 17-year-old self I would be more confident. I would tell my teenage self that being different is beautiful, it is just fine to be an introvert, you are NOT fat, and trust your instincts because they are good.
I’m terrified that enforcing boundaries will… result in my marriage failing.
I’m excited that that enforcing boundaries will… allow me to be my own person and be treated the way that I deserve.
My most elusive boundary questions is… what is an appropriate consequence f someone breaking one of my boundaries?
Being worth it … gives me the confidence to stand strong in my boundaries.
I hope you enjoyed this little exercise. Feel free to participate if you would like, either here or on her blog!