Self-love before In-love
Part 4 of 5
I don’t like it.Former 3 year old patient
Full disclosure, today’s topic is a touchy one and will look different for every person reading this. What I have to say on this is based solely on my personal experience and how I feel about this matter. With that being said, let’s dive right in!
The word of the day is boundary.
When we’re kids it’s easy to establish boundaries because we seem to not care about what other’s think in regards to how we feel. Not too long ago life gave me the privilege of working with kids and one of my favorite babies had developmental delays when it came to his speech but a phrase that he very clearly and very often used was, “I don’t like it.”
Three years old, but this little guy was aware of what he liked and didn’t like and he wasn’t afraid to speak out on it. He knew his boundaries when it came to how long he could play, what food he would and would not eat and when he had had enough therapy.
At some point in time, life begins to teach us that we have to push our limits, know no bounds, reach and thrive and grow past our comfort zone. I preach this, I love this. I often find new ways to be uncomfortable in trying new things because I believe only then can I truly know what I’m made of.
In most cases this is grand, it opens doors for growth in careers, money revenue, new cities and sometimes even meeting new people that change our lives.
The boundaries I’m speaking on today are personal and relational boundaries. Boundaries that keep us safe, boundaries that are established so you don’t lose yourself in the journey of loving someone else. However, we can’t exactly establish boundaries for what we’re okay and not okay with if we don’t know and love ourselves.
Who we are is constantly changing but our core values, beliefs and fundamentals seldom change even when we grow. Knowing what these are and loving ourselves enough to stick to them keeps us from being manipulated or remaining in situations that don’t serve us.
I had just turned 22 when I got married. I knew some important boundaries for me – I wouldn’t live with a man I wasn’t married to. I would never let a man hit me. I would never stay if a man cheated. Naive boundaries, but none the less they were unspoken boundaries I felt were appropriate. Fortunately for me I married a good man, never laid a hand on me, never made me question that he would. My husband respected my wishes on not living together until we were married and never pressured me to do otherwise.
At 22 however, there were boundaries that I hadn’t established because I didn’t know how important they were to me and my mental health. I didn’t know my style of arguing or forgiveness. I didn’t know the many needs I would have when it came to communication with exes, coworkers or strangers. I didn’t know my own needs when it came to who and what was allowed within my marriage because I wasn’t sure who I wanted to be as a wife.
When it came to communicating, initially I didn’t express what made me uncomfortable (boundary), I didn’t want to seem childish but I in fact was a child. I behaved in childish ways, took matters into my own hands. If my husband would’t change his behavior (behavior I hadn’t voiced hurt me) then I would make him feel how I felt, maybe then he would learn. This toxic way of thinking brought forth the destruction of my marriage. It was a constant you hurt me so I hurt you and eventually it led me to losing the person I loved because I did not know how to love.
Now in retrospect, after doing the work, after diving into my own heart and my own wounds, I know the boundaries I have for myself and I can carry out those boundaries in my relationships outside of myself. Once I stepped out of a toxic environment, I no longer behaved in toxic patterns. Stepping out of what hurt me and how I hurt someone I loved, allowed for me to see where I had gone wrong and why and what I needed to do (the boundaries I needed to set) so I never found myself in such a place again.
For me, I love myself enough to not push my limits with what I consume. I love myself enough to not be sedentary. I love myself enough to work hard and overcome toxic traits. My boundaries with others keep me safe and help me grow in the same way- I don’t tolerate people yelling at me or calling me hurtful names; something that in the past I allowed. I establish boundaries of communication from the beginning- talk this out with me. I love affection but there’s a time and place.
For others, boundaries may be, we can be social media followers but we don’t share passwords. You can have friends but your exes aren’t allowed to enter our relationship. I’m okay with social gatherings- but don’t go see your individual friend past 6 pm.
Take time to love yourself enough to know when something or someone is hurting you. Dive deep into who you are and establish what is okay and what isn’t. If not, it’s too easy to lose yourself wanting to make everyone else happy, even when it means compromising your core. It’s okay to say no more to what you once allowed. Losing yourself is never worth it.
When you say “yes” to others, make sure you aren’t saying “no” to yourself.Paulo Coehlo