I spend too much time reading forums. I get a lot of ideas of how I don’t want to behave when I grow up. Good gracious. Boundaries are awesome! My kids and I talk about future planning when they are adults. The conversation goes something like:
Me: “Of course I would love to spend time with you as a grown up. I will ask for visits. BUT IT’S OK TO TELL ME THAT IT’S NOT A GOOD TIME OR JUST PLAIN NO.”
EC: “Oh don’t worry mom, I’ll tell you no when it doesn’t work for me. I will have stuff of my own to do.”
IS IT REALLY THAT HARD TO HAVE FUCKING BOUNDARIES WITH ADULT CHILDREN?! I DON’T GET IT.
I feel like one of the wonderful things I’ve gotten from being a parent is the strong NEED to work on boundaries. My boundaries with my kids are not real muddy. There are topics we don’t discuss. There are kinds of support they are not allowed to give me. (Now if you want to support me by sweeping and washing the dishes… I’m down.)
My kids are fan-fucking-tastic house mates. They want to be helpful. They want to live in a house that works like clockwork because then they get to do more of their spontaneous desires without being told “No. You must do the pre-reqs before you move on to the fun part.” If you just keep up with the pre-reqs of picking up after yourself most of the time… it’s not that hard.
Sarah and I speculate about what my kids will be like as adults. Right now they are boss-cleaners. They handle their shit and they contribute to household shit as they feel generous. Will this continue? Will my children want to grow up and live in an orderly house or will they grow up to live in abject chaos JUST TO PROVE THEY CAN. I expect at least some phases of chaos. Hopefully I will invest in some duct tape and keep my fat mouth shut.
Random thing I was thinking about: I talk about Jenny a lot as my oldest friend. But I have multiple other people in my life I met at the same time or really a few months/a year before I got to know her as well. I feel like Jenny and I got closer as I was rounding the bend towards 13. Y & G were both intensely close friends before her. I don’t talk to G very often because he’s out in Utah, but I do talk to him. (He’s going to start fostering children with his wife! I’m excited. I think they will be fabulous foster parents.) I talk to Y a few times a month. We had many years where we didn’t really talk because life was busy, but we’ve never really fallen completely out of touch.
But Jenny is the one in my mind. She is the bright shining star at the top of my Christmas tree and that’s an interesting thing.
Something that occurred to me… Y & G never put up harsh boundaries with my abusive behavior. They both grew up in shitty families and just kind of put their heads down to take it. Neither of them ever told me to stop hitting them or being nasty.
Jenny did. When I’m an asshole to Jenny… she’ll cheerfully go months without talking to me till I get my shit together. Jenny has fucking boundaries.
I wonder how much that plays into Jenny being the shining star. I have had to work on myself in order to deserve this relationship and I think that matters. I think that Jenny feels like more of an accomplishment because she wasn’t willing to put up with me being shitty. The fact that she’s still my friend is a reflection that I have gotten better.
Y & G? Yeah… I think they would have known me forever no matter how much of a bully I was. That kind of makes me sad. They both deserve better.
Why do Y & G get initials? Because I haven’t asked their permission to use their names. I do care about that kind of thing.
Y & G carried me through middle school. They are two of the biggest reasons that middle school was the happiest time of my childhood. But they aren’t the bright shining stars on the top of my Christmas tree.
I feel bad about that. I love them. They are wonderful people. I deeply look up to both of them in different ways. But Jenny’s different.
Y & G feel like beloved friends.
Jenny feels like my family. Which is complicated with my abhorrence for chosen family. But there she is.
Jenny and Sarah and Pam remind me that family isn’t about blood. Because they stay in my life and demand better from me year after year. They don’t accept my shittiness. They say, “Yeah… that’s not ok. Stop that.” Because they love me
I don’t think they feel like they are setting boundaries as firmly as they are. I feel it though. I feel the cocoon of “I am this way and you must accept me and respect my limits.”
It’s so wonderful. Them having this cocoon around them makes me feel safe. I can see what will and won’t be tolerated and I can adapt. They will all explain their limits to me, patiently. “Yeah that won’t work for me because ______.” “OOOOOHHHH! That’s why! Yes! That makes sense! Thank you for explaining that to me!”
I feel so lucky.
I know that justifying/arguing/defending/explaining is frowned upon by lots of people. I know. I don’t think I deserve an explanation. But I try very hard to respond respectfully when someone does something they don’t have to do.
I don’t listen to the explanation because I’m trying to figure out how to manipulate them into doing what I want anyway. I listen to the explanation so I can have a better mental model in my head about why they want what they want. Then maybe I won’t need that same explanation again.
Yeah… sometimes I fuck this up big. But I’m trying.
I think part of what I value so deeply about Pam, Sarah, and Jenny is that they are pretty fucking good at understanding themselves and why they have their boundaries. It’s a rare talent.
Decades of relationships. I haven’t failed at every relationship. Almost 24 years. Almost 21 years. Almost 14 years. I’ve been married 11 years.
I haven’t failed at every relationship.
But it’s complicated. So complicated.
I feel ashamed of how much some people in my network have so much more influence over me than anyone else.
Like, if Pam ever seriously read me the riot act and told me she was ashamed of me because my behavior was completely over the line… I’d crumble like a cracker. It would be a BIG FUCKING DEAL because she just doesn’t do that sort of thing. I would deserve it. She’s not manipulative. She’s not hostile. She’s not controlling. She’s not judgmental. If she came down on me like a ton of bricks…. I would deserve it. I caused it.
So I work very hard to not cause it. Because I need her good esteem.
This all contributes to thoughts I’ve been having about “safe” people getting the majority of abuse. Y & G are safe people to abuse. They won’t resist. Jenny is not safe. She will walk away because she has that integrity.
I want to learn how to appreciate the safe people without hurting them so much.