The J Word NZ

Setting my Boundaries

Boundaries

I have been hearing a lot this week about boundaries. Setting boundaries was one of the very first things I did when I started becoming more aware of myself and set sail on my mental health and well-being journey five years ago.


I made some drastic changes in my life at that time, which were also felt by my young daughter, who was only seven. The responsibility I felt in making this decision for both of us to “move away from home” was HUGE. After all, it wasn’t only affecting me. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do, so I followed that and pushed through all of the uncomfortable feelings to make it happen.

This photo was taken the day I decided to change my life forever and make the move to Taranaki. Conversations were had with an inspiring and gutsy friend who shared her strength with me.


At the time it was a very confronting and heartbreaking experience. I was unplugging from people; family, friends and acquaintances that were not in alignment with me or the direction I wanted my life to head. Here I was surrounded by toxic relationships with people who were also significantly damaged. It’s funny how people of the same vibe tend to congregate together.

Once I arrived at my new destination, this grand change and idealisation of a brand shiny new life were more lacklustre than I had anticipated. The isolation and feeling of loneliness to me was horrendous. It felt like I was going through the death of multiple people and a stage of grief. I now understand it was a death, the death of a person who I didn’t want to be anymore and the death of attachments to some people I could no longer surround myself with. I reemerged from that a different person.


The in-between time was not pretty, at all, none of my finest moments were had and it’s certainly not a time that I look back on now and feel proud. I started to drink far too much alcohol, smoked too many cigarettes and was an emotionally unavailable parent. Short-tempered, impatient and just generally not “humaning” very well. At the time, it was all I could do to keep going each day, and I did not have many days where I felt any gratitude for my existence.


At some stage, I decided to wipe my slate clean and start building from scratch. I was cautious only to include people and experiences that would align with the life I wanted to create moving forward.

After about a year of this, I decided on a whim to try something brand new and totally out of my comfort zone, and I attended a Mindfulness workshop. What an experience, think 20+ people in a room, yoga mats, meditation, ceremonial bowl dinging etc. Not something I had participated in ever before. Something I would usually be very judgemental about. But what do you know? Not only did I like it, but I loved it! I had no idea that this little voice in my head, the one causing all of the issues wasn’t “me”. It was just a storyline repeating itself over and over, and I could stop it! I could take notice, and I could change the patterns and change my whole thinking.

Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight. It has taken years and a billion other types of therapies and conversations, but I am certainly in a lot more control of that little monkey voice now than I have ever been.


I remember being told once when I was younger, that my expectations of life were too high, that I lived in fairytale land. I lived for years thinking this was the case and that what I had was what life looked like for everyone and as good as it would probably get. I know now that this isn’t the case at all, life is to for living precisely how you want to live it, and no one else can identify your boundaries and limits for you.


I think of my boundaries now as a moat surrounding my castle. Sometimes I get caught out and let my boundaries slip a little. I find that once the water starts leaking in my castle can quickly FLOOD! It is such a hassle when that happens; you have to rebuild your moat, bucket out the water one bucket at a time and clean up the mess. It’s a delicate dance between keeping boundaries and not building walls that cut you off from everything and everyone. Something I am still learning.

J

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