Healthy Boundaries

Healthy Boundaries

For most of my life I felt out of place. I did what I was told to do, what was expected of me. It’s almost as if I didn’t even know how to choose and think for myself without thoughts of guilt, in my mind, from unrealistic traits I was taught and watched as a child.

Do I think my parents meant to put this much pressure on me? I’d like to think, no. But I cant begin to even assume what they thought while raising a big family. All I know is, I parent and live so much different that if i choose to focus on it, it hurts me so deeply, I feel like I can’t breathe.

When I was little I wanted 2 things more than anything.

  1. Become a Police Officer
  2. Become an American Citizen

Both ideas weren’t something they understood. I grew up in the frozen north. Canada was freezing and bitter cold. I didn’t know any different but i hated it. Canadians are the nicest most caring people I’ve ever met. But the weather is not for the faint of heart. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I wanted to become a police officer so badly. Ever since the 80s. I was maybe 5 when I decided that’s what I wanted to do.

I was raised extreme Christian. Having a caffeinated drink was frowned upon. I never hated the church. Not then. It gave me a sense of worth and value, but it restricted my mindset and limitations so extreme. I was scared to do anything that may make me look bad, according to how I was raised. Going to hell, was a huge fear of mine.

Fast forward to 2011, I was personally recruited to the Federal Police, My family shared its concerns but I joined anyhow, It was too important to me. A few years after I served, I sustained a spinal cord injury which allowed me to come to the USA to get the medical care I needed. Canada didn’t offer the treatment I needed, back then. So, I moved to Utah with my three little girls, alone. Now, not a wonderful situation to have my second life goal met, but I did it. I ended up in the USA and started our immigration journey.

While being in the USA, I had a hard choice, medically. If I get the implant my Neurosurgeon suggested, the Canadian government would medically release me, because I would no longer be “Deployable”. It was to the point I couldn’t even function. I was in so much pain. So I choose the surgery. After all, my kids only had one parent, “ME”. They deserved me to be pain free and be there for them.

I was a single parent since my kids were 2,3&5. My kids dad wasn’t faithful. He owned it, but that is not acceptable, not to me and not something I was willing to tolerate. Even though for years, the church, kept pushing me to accept it and stay. I couldn’t physically be in the same space as their dad. It made me literally ill.

I always wanted my kids to have 2 parents. After all, who doesn’t value the role of a mother and a father in their lives? Well my kids dad, for whatever reason, didn’t feel the need to stay. He not only distanced himself from my kids, yes “MY” (I earned that by raising them alone). He moved continents and never called them on birthdays, Christmas, or anything. Never paid medical or even tried to be consistent with child support. 16 years I raised my kids alone. My youngest is almost 19 and wouldn’t recognize him, if that puts it into perspective.

Moving to a new country has its challenges, Yes, even from Canada. Its so different. Culture, personalities, political views, government styles, people, food, nutrition, clothing, just to mention a few things.

If you have ever watched 90 day fiance, that’s exactly how I felt. Like a fish out of water. You’d think moving from a country so similiar to the USA that it would be easier, but it wasn’t.

Going into my 30s I felt a little more confident in my role in how I wanted my life to go. But now I was in a new country, with just my kids and surrounded by culture, people and laws that were so different than I was used too. I had to reprogram my brain to be not only okay with the new laws, but accepting of it. Now were not talking all laws here, I’m not a criminal. But gun laws in the USA are VERY different than gun laws in Canada. When I was serving with the federal police in Canada we weren’t allowed to take our service pistol home with us. We’d leave it in the armory at the base. So, personal carry here in the USA was a huge thing to wrap my head around.

Now, in my 40s, I am navigating taking my life back. Taking peoples judgements and ideals of how I should act away and carving out whats important to ME. I’ve been working with a trauma therapist throughout this process. Setting healthy boundaries has been out main focus. I am learning that I am an extreme people pleaser and had to set some healthy boundaries to get me back to feeling confident and happy.

This has not been easy, People who I though were my best friends didn’t support this. They didn’t like that I now had the courage to say, “No” or to voice opinions, I’d keep to myself, for years, Not to support their bad behaviour. Who am I to judge others? But I had to set boundaries so they no longer controlled how I felt or from them taking advantage of me. I have had a lot of retaliation from me choosing to put my sanity first.

My family also doesn’t respect this. Even while communicating and setting boundaries with my therapist, they’ve been extremely aggressive with my new boundaries I’ve set. Sad part is, nothing has changed, except for them being mean and vocal about anything and everything they think they know about me. My boundary was a non aggressive expression of how I’ve felt for my entire life. I was always the black sheep. Only difference now is I took my voice back, set boundaries, but now, I am the villian.

I can’t control how others feel. I’d never intentionally hurt anyones feelings, If I did, I’d be the first to apologize. I now have learned to communicate my feelings more accurately and am more direct with people I allow in my life. This is also something some people don’t like. People who have used me for years, have very aggressively tried to flip my boundary setting on me, calling me names and being mean. Showing me how little they cared about me, some, for years. Behaviours I have tolerated, by not setting healthy boundaries. I refuse to tolerate bad behaviours in my life and won’t apologize for having healthy expectations and boundaries.

Not one of my healthy boundaries I set have been meant to hurt or to make someone feel bad. Some people, family members to be specific have done somethings that have hurt me and my family so deeply that I needed to be really honest, in a private setting so allow that relationship to heal. It’s not up to me to have them reciprocate my wanting to have a healthy relationship. It’s up to me to set up a healthy boundary, period. For both me and my kids.

My family, months later, still are so angry. I’ve had to learn to just sit with it. I’ve live in the USA 9 years and the elephant has been in the room with no conversation, ever on anything. Just been going on as if nothing has happened. My trauma therapist challenged me to set up boundaries with them and address the elephant in the room. Let me tell you, they were not happy. They still aren’t. To them the boundary is my problem. Realistically, by setting the boundary, nothing has changed. We still don’t talk, but my concerns are on the table. I feel free like a weight has been lifted. But the truth is, my family hates that my boundaries point out cracks in relationships, that can be fixed, but they’d rather fight then self reflect and possibly fix the issues. Again, I can’t force anyone to change or to do anything. But, I have set the boundaries that I need to feel safe and secure and its not up to me anymore.

I will accept and change what I can to be a better person. But I will not accept cruel and mean messaged from people who don’t like the healthy boundaries I’ve set. Sometimes the truth, hurts. I’ve had to sit with hard truths about myself and worked on making those things better. It is healthy to feel hurt and to have empathy. It is not okay to inflict hurt back onto people when they point out something that you’ve done to hurt them. Sometimes we need to take a minute and reflect and see why they feel that way, and have a mature conversation to try to heal the hurt and strengthen the relationship. This takes maturity and not everyone has this. Just like empathy can be a great quality, but that doesn’t give people the right to walk all over you and accuse you of being mean when you politely stand up for yourself. Some people cant see the hurt they cause or take accountability for it. Even if your approach it kindly.

I had a conversation with who I thought was a friend a few months ago. They brought up that some people saw them as “this” or “that”. I didn’t know how to react to this. They wanted my opinion. My hesitation to respond showed them I saw some validity in what the others had thought. I was polite, (People pleaser) and they told me if they ever do anything to hurt me, to call them out. Well who would have thought, not even a month later I was in a position where they caused hurt and as per their words, I was in a position to communicate how they made me feel. Lets just say my communications went on deaf ears, I know they received my message, which was all true and I had help writing the message with my therapist. I was worried, knowing their past history of communicating that they would NOT take a boundary well at all. I was left on read for over a month.

I had mixed emotions, I thought we reached a healthy position and thought we would maturely get through this tough situation. I was wrong. 5 week later, I was hosting an event that I know they knew about. As to not cause more drama I politely sent them a message, “Seeing as how our friendship is right now, I am not comfortable with you in my home” I wasn’t aggressive or mean. But kept my boundary.

This was also not accepted well. They went right into gaslighting and mean responses. Trying to flip it on me. I refuse to be part of this so ended the discussion.

Healthy boundaries are freeing and isolating at the same time. Frees you from the burden of feeling like its our personal responsibility to make sure everyone around you is happy. But weeds out so many people who are incapable of being out of their own heads and refuse to accept the boundary or knowledge and work to make it better. The most sad part is, sometimes its a simple misunderstanding and can be fixed and reconciled and potentially make some relationships so much stronger.

Everyone has the right to set healthy boundaries for themselves, but being mean and vengeful when someone sets a boundary that upsets you, is not okay. I don’t care if its your family or not. If your own family cant support you on your quest to being the best version of yourself, then maybe that dynamic isn’t worth it. I will NOT apologize for setting healthy boundaries, even if it hurts your feelings. My feelings are just as valid.

I am realizing that there are a lot of immature selfish people everywhere. Look at your friend group, family dynamic or just people in your lives, at the gym, work, or people you see in your daily routines. How many of these people have true intentions? Who’s going to be there when you have a bad day? Who’s gonna be there when you truly need someone? Usually, its when we hit our rock bottom. “Trauma”, “Loss”, “Unexpected Events” that the truth of someones intentions become so clear.

6 months ago, today, I had a fusion surgery. I told the doctors, my then bf and all staff that I didn’t want any opioids, Opioids cause massive PTSD flareups. Sure enough, by the time I woke up from surgery I already had Opioids on board, I had the worst PTSD flare up, ever experienced by me, to date.

Who was there to help me? Think about it. Who should have been there for me? My bf? Nope. My “Best” friends? Nope. My family? Kids, yes! This was a reality shock for me. Someone who I thought loved me, turned their back. My best friends who I’d been there for, even when I was so emotionally spent, weren’t there. Even when I brought up concerns they turned a blind eye. I felt like a fool. Here I thought some of these people were my best friends. But it was made clear, they were friends when they needed something from me, but if needed something, I was asking too much.

The world had definitely changed. Social media is so normal that no one focuses on reality. People don’t communicate anymore. No one checks on anyone, no one can see past their own self. I hate what the world has turned into. I wish my kids got to enjoy life like kids in the 80s did. Not my childhood, but the adventure of writing letters, notes, dialing phones attached to walls. Sunset setting bedtimes, and dirt being the excitement for hours of fun.

I’m still navigating this crazy thing we called life. Sticking to my boundaries and seeing what happens. It is not easy. I spent so much of my life wanting to be liked and validated at all costs. Now I validate myself and love myself and have set up boundaries so that when I do meet new people and have new experiences that I’m protected from the fake and the immaturity that cant cultivate realness.

Life is heavy, people. Keep pushing to the best version of yourself and if that means your painfully alone for a while. I promise its better than being surrounded in a sea of people who don’t care about you, at all.