I was 19 years old still living at home, I remember I had a long day working and attending my college classes. I was tired, hungry, and ready to just relax, but the day was not over just yet. I still had to finish up some homework and study for a test that was taking place the following day. It was 10 pm I had just entered my home. My mother began to yell about how the restroom was a mess, a restroom that I shared with my older brother. A brother who did not work nor attend school.
I remember feeling hopeless, thinking how can I work a full time job, pay rent, finish school and keep up on a house that I am not even home long enough to dirty? I was on overload as I heard my mother yell and verbally abuse me. I yelled” why is this discussion not with (for the sake of privacy I will say Jamie) Jamie? He as been home all day and I am sure he could of taken the time to clean the restroom!”
In that moment I knew I was going to regret those words. waiting for my mother to either continue to yell some more, or slap me in my mouth. She continued to yell some more.
The words just came out “ I’m moving out”! Silence then Mom said “ You will never live on your own, you will never make it without me”.
The following weeks I pondered this thought can I move out of a home that was very dysfunctional? The more I pondered it the more appealing it became. I did move out and I discovered I had power over my decisions and I also discovered I can put boundaries up with my family. It was freeing but also a bit terrifying.
I made a commitment to never move back into my mother's home, which I am proud to say by the strength and wisdom of Jesus Christ it is almost 20 years later and I have kept my word. I also learned much about boundaries and the importance of sticking to them, even when it is difficult. Here a few steps to know when it comes to boundaries.
Learn what is a boundary: A boundary is a commitment to place space between a person physically and emotionally . Learning what you will allow a person to say or how a person can treat you. I had to learn this with my family. I also had to recognize when a boundary needed to be put in place. Asking myself 4 questions (1) Are they manipulating the situation or trying to control my decisions? (2) Am I safe in this situation physically or emotionally? (3) Would I treat a person this way? (4) Do I feel powerless? If I said yes to any of these questions, that was when I needed to put a boundary up between me and that person.
Understanding unhealthy boundaries: Unhealthy boundaries consist of but not limited to jealousy over other relationships, the inability to not have friendships with other people, are they sexually, verbally, or physically harming you, Are there drugs and alcohol involved, fear of sharing you views and values, or allowing a person to take things from you.
Communication: Learning to speak up and verbalize my thoughts and feelings. Using I statements is also important when you are trying to explain feelings of frustration. I realized when using statements like “You make me feel angry, you drive me crazy. It's your fault “ This is not effective and the other person would feel attacked verbally. Using
I statements such as I feel upset when you or xyz happens. would be appropriate when trying to communicate.
Loving yourself: Loving yourself is a step to understand you deserve respect from others. No one has the right to verbally, mentally or physically harm you. As survivors of abuse we forget and are taught the opposite. Learning that your values, feeling and your body matter is the first step to create a healthy boundary for you and for others around you.
Honesty: Communicate your feelings and how if affects you is important for your self and the other person but Be honest about it, even if you worry about what the other person thinks (if the person cares about you then they will respect your honesty and will listen to what you have to say) I found when I began being honest with people I found they respected me more because I was respecting myself. I was not going into the same patterns in relationships because I was learning right from the start communication, honesty, and putting my physical, and emotional well being first.
Consequences: To have a boundary there as to be a consequence. When I moved out I told my mother that the reason I was doing this was because of her treatment towards me, Later I recognized her verbal abuse. I had to say if you can not speak with me without yelling, or name calling then I will remove myself from your presence until you can stop the verbal abuse. Having a healthy relationship is not about making threats it's giving healthy choices in situations that are inappropriate and poor choice that person is making towards you.
Follow through: When you state the consequences for someone's inappropriate behavior is very important to follow through. if you do not follow through, your words mean nothing and they will continue to treat you they way you do not want to be treated. Mean what you say, do what you mean if you don’t nothing will change. And if it means that person needs to be out of your life then that is what must be done for your safety.
Revisit: When I follow through with a what I say about removing myself from the situation it does not have to be for life depending on circumstances such as Will I be harmed or Will threats be made to me ? if you are sure that the person will not do something regarding your safety then you can revisit the relationship with the reminder if they do it again you will follow through with whatever the consequence maybe, of course if you have to continue to revisit repeatedly I would then begin to question is this relationship really worth having if you boundaries are still not respected.
These are steps that I continue to do in every conversation I have because I realize That Jesus loves me and want the best for me but it starts with what will I do about it.
Jesus handed you the tools, are you going to use them?