“I know my boundaries and one day I might just enforce them.” Unknown
I curled up under the blanket on our living room sofa and ate Reese’s Cups while mulling over what went wrong.
The conversation with John was okay until we each made a comment the other one didn’t like. I took something he said the wrong way. I apologized for my tone, and I also wanted to clarify and have him understand.
His pain and anger about our interchange made it impossible to discuss what happened for the rest of the weekend.
We stopped talking about the topic and started talking about each other. We blamed, brought up the past, and, at one point, forgot what we were arguing about.
Since I recently wrote about enabling and boundaries, I sat still while John went to bed without saying good night and without asking if I wanted to pray. I can’t remember the last time he’s done that. I felt shaken and scared, but I didn’t snap.
I messaged a friend who I knew would listen and be compassionate towards both of us. She suggested leaving him alone for the evening instead of barging into our bedroom to fix us. She agreed it was a bad idea to revert back 10 years to habits like begging him to talk or explaining louder and with examples like, “How would you like it if I went to bed without saying good night to you?”
The latter made so much sense, I may have said it anyway had I not remembered advice from another friend, “I’ve often regretted not setting a boundary, but I have never once been sorry when I set one.”
The soundness of her words stopped my feet in their tracks (they were headed to our bedroom). It calmed the dialogue I had going on ever since John closed our bedroom door. With all those voices in my head, I’m not sure why I needed to talk to him anyway.
I thought, What if he dies tonight and this weekend of arguing is the last memory I have?
This is my mom’s voice of fear and guilt, which I’ve let control me since childhood. I’ve learned to quiet her and her fears after almost three years of her being gone. (a boundary)
What if I’m wrong and responsible for this weekend’s entire debacle?
This is John’s voice when he is frustrated and hurt. I’ve learned to reason with him (his voice in my head better than him in person) and resolve I’m not all wrong. (a boundary)
What would it hurt to follow him into the bedroom, apologize again, and curl up there instead of the sofa?
This is my toxic Jiminy Cricket’s voice saying I SHOULD be able to fix everything. And, let me tell you, when I start shaming myself and saying things like “What would it hurt …,” I hurt myself by not setting boundaries, especially when I know he is momentarily unavailable. (a boundary)
“Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be. And it’s a straight-jacket.” Brene Brown
Instead of giving into John’s frustration and my fear and shame, I set boundaries I may have disregarded had I not been writing to y’all.
Are you determined to set boundaries, but you haven’t yet? I highly recommend them.
Thanks to John for encouraging me to blog about our stories, and for blogging with me through our relationship and life. Thanks to my friend for hanging in there late into the evening and advising me well. Thanks to you, our friends/readers. I hope you find here both courage and ‘couragement. You’ve certainly given both to me.
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In This Together,