One of the most difficult lessons for me as I am learning how to live this new life with my illness is learning how to set boundaries, and when to say that dirty, two letter word… “no”. Most likely the reason it is so hard now is because it was not necessarily my strong point before I got sick! It takes a clear vision and direction, the ability to prioritize, as well as having self-respect to know when to draw a line and when to give or bend…and self-respect is still a developing quality in my life.
My tendency is to avoid the issue rather than directly say the word “no”. I will drop hints with the hope that the other person will understand and back off by reading between the lines. I will dodge phone calls and go into hiding rather than directly face the situation. I can get amazingly creative in coming up with ways to communicate my feelings without ever actually saying the “N” word! But of course, I am seeing that there are many instances that this tactic fails and it just prolongs the inevitable and causes a simple issue to be drawn out and become a complicated and confusing one for both parties.
Ugh… my backbone is there… somewhere…
Because I have so much love and respect for the people in my life, it seems that currently, the best way for me to recognize when it is time to draw a line is to try to pull back and view the situation as how I might advise a friend who is going through it.
If my friend were in this position would I think she should feel guilty for saying no and setting a boundary in place? If my friend said no, would she deserve to look like the bad guy in her own eyes or anyone else’s?
Usually the answer is very obvious and clear to me if I look at it this way. And the truth is, that I deserve the same respect and freedom to make decisions that I feel best serve myself and my family.
No questions asked.
I assume the best way to continue to grow in this area is just to practice doing what I feel is best. Even if it means I have to call the person right back because I didn’t have the nerve initially to say what I should have said. If I handle myself with self-control, with kindness, and am true to myself by recognizing that I have limitations and they are there for a reason (to protect and preserve the priorities that I have defined and to enable me to invest in and cultivate the relationships and goals that are most important to me), then I can have peace and leave the other person’s reaction and response to them and feel comfortable with my decision. I also have to accept the fact that the reasons that I have and the basis for my decisions may never be satisfactory to the other person, and that I do not need to explain, justify, or expect them to be in complete harmony with my choice before I can make peace with my decision. As much as I love people and I love to give of myself and resources,
Generosity, when not partnered with boundaries, can quickly turn into self-deprecating and counterproductive behavior.
The line is an absolutely fine one, and is difficult to recognize, but I am going to continue doing my best to train my eye to pinpoint that place where the former transitions into the latter.