Boundaries Can Be Scary (5-Minute Read)

Boundaries It is healthy to establish them even with friends blog by Connie Pretula
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Connie Pretula

Connie Pretula is an inspiring health coach and Menopause Navigator to mature women, using a holistic approach to nutrition and life.

May 29, 2024

The quickest way to ruin a friendship/relationship is to expect others to do the same for me as I would do for them. Establishing boundaries can cause further issues.

We are all different and we all approach life in our own unique way. Because someone doesn’t do something for me that I would do for them, that doesn’t make them an uncaring or a mean person. I previously wrote a blog on expectations, click here to read.

When we are dealing with a difficult situation, we want to know we’re not alone. Yet, sometimes, we do need to work through those difficult times on our own, and maybe that is part of the learning process of life.

To expect my closest circle to make the situation easier is not realistic and somewhat unfair.

I am allowed to have boundaries, even when someone I love is going through a very difficult time.

The other person may be hearing, I need you to fit into my schedule or else I have no time for you or they may be feeling they are not important. Sometimes they won’t understand even if you explain why you can’t drop everything in that moment to listen. We also do not need to explain why we are setting the boundary, that can start to cause further issues and lead into an unhealthy and regrettable conversation.

It’s not about teaching them to respect boundaries in the moment, it’s about respecting ourselves.

When I break my own boundaries, I am telling myself that my mental, emotional and physical health is second to others. That is the danger zone. 

The other potential factor is the other person may have a martyr mentality, meaning, they will do anything at all cost with no regard of their own personal health and well being. It could mean they have no boundaries or rarely set boundaries.

Are there times that we should put others first? Probably an overused example, what do they tell us on a plane? If the cabin loses pressure and the oxygen masks drop, put yours on first before assisting others.

When my mom had her major stroke in March 2019, I knew the best thing I could do for myself and to be the healthiest version of myself was to get enough sleep and eat properly. I also had to make sure I had time to recover emotionally with some time on my own to process everything that was happening.

I needed to be clear of mind to make decisions for her, her health and her future. How could I do that if I was exhausted? 

I wanted to spend every minute with her, I had no idea what the future held. I had an obligation to the commitments I had made to my teaching contract at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition and the students who registered for the course. That meant leaving my mom and flying back to Vancouver, it was the last thing I wanted to do but I had no choice. 

During the eight months following her stroke, I learned it was okay for me to have some fun and laugh. Giving myself permission to have fun and release the stress I was holding, allowed me to be fully present when I was with her.

I learned a lot during the last eight months of my mom’s life and not once did I expect anyone to make me feel better or make the situation easier. I would call her sisters and close friends to update them on how she was doing but I never once expected them to put their lives aside and take my call.

I did ask her church group if they could take turns checking in on her and keeping me up to date when I was not there and I completely understood when they had other obligations. I always prefaced with “please feel free to say no”. 

Not once did I expect one person to be my sounding board. Even after my mom’s death, I had to work through the grieving process on my own, no one could fix the hurt in my heart. It was up to me to put everything in perspective so I could move on with life rather than cope with life.

To walk away from a friendship/relationship because a person did not meet our expectations is a choice. Making that choice when we are in an emotional state and perhaps not clear of mind and feeling like no one has time for us has potential consequences.

Words hurt and when someone is hurting they may say something very hurtful. This is what I struggle with, especially when someone says something that I shared in trust. I have to realize that those very personal shares can be used like hurtful weapons. It is very hard for me to trust that person ever again. Even if the friendship is patched up, I will continue to be on guard, I feel a risk now.

Do I have the answers, no, I’m still learning how to use my voice in the fight/flight/freeze moments. 

When these situations happen, it does make me be cautious on making new friends. I have to remember, there is never any guarantee in life about anything, we simply have to live it. Take the lessons we are given and not cut ourselves off from life.

One of the people I follow on social media is Terri Cole, I have also started reading her book Boundary Boss. She covers many situations and how to handle them, I would highly recommend it.

As the saying goes, take what you like and leave the rest.

This content has been on my mind for a few weeks and I needed to share it before returning to my series for men on what women experience in menopause. 

Thank you for reading my words.

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