Boundaries are a really healthy thing, especially after you’ve been burned.
I’ve noticed a few people in my world who have, shall we say, acted in ways unbecoming of a “friend”. We didn’t really speak for a few years, actually they spoke, sending nasty emails about their opinions about me, my life, my parenting, and I rarely responded. I honestly didn’t care, ok, scratch that, I do care, but not what they “think”. Instead of focusing on their behavior, I focused on myself, my behavior, why I allowed this into my life and what I needed to do to grow up and move on. It took a while and a lot of introspective work, but I did it. I forgave, them and myself and then I truly, honestly didn’t care…
And they still did.
I was really grateful to have the opportunity to do some work around forgiveness and what I learned is that we really have that concept screwed up! Passion Provokers has a great program, you should check it out.
With this particular being, they constantly needed my forgiveness without truly doing the work to gain it. Sure, we can all say “I’m sorry” and often we say it for the wrong reasons. I have and I won’t anymore and I will when it’s deserved.
Because we have made “forgiveness” mean being absolved. If they get over it then we don’t have to deal with the shame and guilt. I’m telling you right now, if you don’t deal with your shame and guilt, it’s a rough road ahead.
I wrote this poem about it
Saying I’m sorry, in order to receive forgiveness, isn’t really forgiveness. It’s a mask, adorned with the sparkling jewels of deception, of shadow, of hoping that in the words of of the betrayed you will find solace.
Forgiveness starts with forgiving yourself, and there is only one way to do that and it’s through the darkest of forests, the murkiest of waters, filled with creatures you’d rather not name,
Start by being honest with yourself
Like really friggen’ honest
like naked in front of your 5th grade assembly honest with yourself
and after you’ve realized
I’ve shed a piece of shame!
And I’m still here!
Damn I feel better!
When you truly feel lighter…
It will be heard
It will be received
Ultimately your saying
I’ve learned this from both sides, not just being betrayed, but being the betrayer. We often say I’m sorry without really doing the work because we think “Hey, if they forgive me, then I’m good, I don’t have to actually reflect on my behavior” and this is where the whole boundary thing comes in handy.
When we insincerely apologize we become indignant, we start to judge the person who we apologized to. “How dare they not accept my apology!” Wherein an authentic apology needs no acceptance.
They want everything to be honkey dory and as it was, and when they can’t see that their behavior shifted the relationship, they will become extremely annoyed at you when you won’t go back. And you shouldn’t.
Not without some boundaries at least, and boundaries can be hard. The reason this whole mess started was because you didn’t have boundaries in the first place.
When you have been hurt it’s important to do a few things.
- Acknowledge how you feel. It’s totally ok to feel how you feel.
- A person who truly cares about you and themselves will readily listen and show compassion and empathy. If they don’t its time to set some boundaries.
- Be willing to understand their perspective, even when you think they are a total jerk…is important to your own growth and widening of your perspective.
What is a boundary?
A boundary is a rule you set for how you choose to be treated and how you choose to treat others (it’s a two-way street FYI).
A boundary is something you can set for anyone in your life, Your family, your ex-husband or ex-wife, your neighbor, anyone. And it’s not easy because most likely you have never set this boundary before. You will fight it, they will fight it and guess what. You deciding what is acceptable to you is actually totally ok. Even if it is your mother.
We aren’t usually taught this, in fact we’re often told we have to deal with other peoples abuse because they are family. Family is a great place to start setting boundaries.
In the last few years I’ve started setting boundaries which affected my family, long time friends and myself. It totally shifted the way in which I engage in relationship and who I choose to continue being in relationship with.
I created levels of entry. Meaning at which level are you welcome into my life. Look, we all have people we can’t get rid of or “ghost”. But we can decide how we choose to engage, respond (or not) and to which degree their energy impacts your reality.
It takes discipline and the willingness to feel “wrong, mean and horrible”. It’s ok. I promise. Even if you’re the biggest “A” hole on the planet. You’ve got to live you, you’ve got to stop allowing others to tell you how you “should be” and “what you should do”.
So, seriously, try not to be an “a”hole. And guess what – we all are. Try and reflect on how you’re showing up and how you’re allowing yourself to be treated. How are you treating yourself? That’s usually a reflection of how you’re being treated.
DO THE WORK! Not on them, but on you. Honesty is key. Brutal honesty. With this person I can see how I could “let it go” more. And yet I also see that right now, what’s best for me to heal is to set my boundaries. They will choose to do what they do and that is no concern to you.
Forgiveness isn’t about being a doormat. You aren’t required to be a saint. You are human, and hurt hurts and when each and every one of us stops and takes a moment to realize we all hurt and we all hurt each other. Saying I’m sorry, letting go of the shame and the guilt and holding your boundaries, all simultaneously is possible.
Betsy Chasse is an award winning filmmaker and author and the publisher and editor of Meaningful Mom Magazine. learn more about her at her website.