There are certain concepts in the self-help world that do my head in. Concepts that seem like they should be really straight forward and easy to understand. You read the definitions and you think ok, yeah, I got it. Then you read it again just to make sure and you’re like hmmmm something just isn’t quite clicking for me right now- and you move on.
That’s been my experience with boundaries. It just seems to be a very fluid concept and there isn’t really a concrete formula for how you go about implementing strong, healthy boundaries. I need formulas, I need concrete.
I also realize that I am not good at boundaries. I’m at one extreme or the other.
I either am completely wide open, I give too much, I expect too much and then I get weird and resentful when I don’t get what I think I should in return. I feel used and taken advantage of. Or I am the complete opposite, I’m cold, I shut down, I wall off. Nope, I’m done, you’re dead to me.
I’ve told myself for years, since I worked with a therapist one on one before I had my son, that I wanted to work on setting healthy boundaries in my relationship with my mother. I was talking to her at that point. Things weren’t perfect by any means, but we were both working on trying to recreate some semblance of a mother-daughter relationship. At the time, I just didn’t understand how to set those boundaries or how to keep them.
Although this definitely spills over into all of my relationships, I’ll continue referring to the relationship with my mom because it’s the origin of all these issues and I guess it might give some insight into how the whole thing began.
My mom had a terrible relationship with her mother, AND father. They were both alcoholics, abusive etc. etc. She moved out at 15, tried to shove all the shit under the rug, played Ms. Perfect and then it all came back to bite her in the ass after she had my younger brother and her mother passed away two weeks before she gave birth. Ever since then, she’s been on a downward spiral, a bit of a rollercoaster, but ultimately downward.
So- as a young child my mom would say all kinds of really messed up stuff to me. She would tell me I was her best friend, but then she would also tell me things like: “you’re just like my mother, you don’t know how to love and you don’t have the capacity to love and if you keep up like that you’re going to end up alone forever.” Not her exact words, but you get the picture.
She was also addicted to all sorts of different things and was either super high functioning perfectionist (clean freak), or passed out on the couch not functioning at all.
There would be moments when I’d feel like she was a mother, and I’d get vulnerable with her and tell her things. Things about my feelings or worries or things I’d done. Without fail she ALWAYS. Every. Single. Time. would find a way to use those against me at some point down the line.
This is what happened the most recent time we had a blow out, and we now are no longer communicating.
It’s been really weighing on me heavily lately because I know her health is very fragile. I keep asking myself if it would be ok with me to continue not communicating and have her pass away.
Here’s the issue-I’m between a rock and a hard place, but I know it’s my problem.
I am not willing to be sucked back into the black whole of her existence. It’s just not an option, especially not since I am a mother myself now. I will not allow my son to be exposed to that kind of toxicity. I will not allow her to form a relationship with him just to hurt him or say really messed up things to him somewhere down the line.
My husband is also not on board. He has been so gracious for the last ten years, giving her every opportunity and encouraging me to do whatever I needed to do to repair the relationship. But the thing is, she goes after him when she comes after me because she knows thats where she can get to me. She knows I’m immune to her criticizing me so she says terrible things about my husband. And he’s had enough. I respect that.
Now I’m in a place where I can choose to get in contact with her at any moment and she’ll receive it with open arms. However, I’m not going in without boundaries and I’m nervous AF.
She’s the type of person that goes rabid animal on you if she feels threatened or backed into a corner. She will go for the jugular. Even if you think she’s calm, you think she’s hearing your feelings and taking them all in during the initial conversation, it’s gonna come out eventually. She can’t self soothe, she can’t handle hurt, she can’t think beyond herself.
So I’m frozen, and I don’t have a ton of time.
I’ve got this loose concept of what boundaries are. They are things you’re ok with and not ok with and you’ve gotta find a way to communicate that to another person in a loving way without sounding like a total bitch. I’m thinking about making a list…like really just hashing it all out on paper and then sending her an email.
I know I need to ask myself: what makes me feel safe in this relationship, what makes me feel like I am guarding my value and how can I stay in my integrity…
I’m also hoping that if I can get this shit down with her, that it will help me immensely in all of my other relationships going forward.
Man, mommy-issues are a bitch.