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“Ignoring your own boundaries will keep you in the cycle of figuring out situations you already had solutions for.”

In my first year of recovery, I have been learning about boundaries, what they are and what they look like for me. I am a people pleaser. I don’t want to hurt other’s feelings, so I often over extend myself to make others happy. I would want others to do the same for me in similar situations. Nine out of ten times when I overextend myself, I have no other plans that are taking the back seat to me helping someone else. I don’t think this is always a bad thing. Some of us are suited to be leaders and in the limelight. Others of us are supporting characters to those leaders. I don’t like to see others stressed out or frazzled, so when I can, I offer and helping hand. I will be the “runner” at an event, searching for that one item you forgot to pick up. I actually enjoy supporting others in this way. This is okay. But there are times, when I want something so bad, that I ignore boundaries I’ve set or haven’t set any boundaries at all. For example, when I was taking a fulltime course load and working full time in the fall of 2021, I spent each evening reading and completing assignments for class, being sure dinner was made, spending time with my daughter, and laying with her in the bed until she fell asleep. I had no boundaries. In my Counseling Techniques course, during a demonstration with my teacher, I shared with the class that I felt overwhelmed and burned out and that my attention was split between too many tasks. I felt that I wasn’t spending enough time with my daughter and my coursework was also suffering. My professor suggested I set a boundary with my daughter where one night a week I focus just on my school work and allow my daughter to watch a movie. She also suggested telling my daughter I would lay in the bed with her for a set amount of time each night, but I would get getting up and she needed to stay in her bed. I tried it, and I was surprised it worked! Also, my daughter didn’t have a melt down and was not suffering from watching a little extra tv one night a week. I felt more in control of my life. I don’t set boundaries because I’m afraid of the reaction I “think” I will receive from others.

I have spent at least eight years of my adult life in long distance relationships. After the last long-distance relationship, I said “I don’t want to be in anymore long-distance relationships.” And I shared this information with those who I had interest in and who had showed interest in me. Ya’ll, guess where I ended up. Mhm. Yep.

I enjoyed long distance relationships in the past because it allowed me to freely drink whenever I wanted to. If I only have to “show up” on a phone call for an hour each day I have 23 more hours to drink. And seriously, that is what I did. My relationship with alcohol was my main relationship. I would do nearly anything for alcohol.

Now that I am no longer holding alcohol close, I have this new found space to flourish. I have found hobbies and activities that I actually enjoy, which I would like to spend sharing with my significant other-in person. Not detailing the events via text. At this point, the long distance was not contributing anything outside of stress related to when we will see each other again, disagreements about engagement via phone and facetime, and watching the clock count the 1,000 days until we MIGHT be in the same space indefinitely.

Nedra Tawwab posted on Instagram “What You Want to Say When Ending a Relationship”. The statement that stood out to me was, “My vision for my life has changed and I no longer want this relationship”. This resonated with me. I tweaked it for my situation, “I have not been honoring my vision for partnership and I no longer want to be in a long-distance relationship.”

How do you set and uphold your boundaries? Do you find that people honor the boundaries you set? How do you react when your boundaries are not honored?

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