Crossing the Line

 

Lately it seems like the issue of setting boundaries is on the minds of lots of folks in my life...sounds like the old “I have a friend”, right??…OK, I will cop to having it in MY life too. What exactly is a boundary anyway and why are they so important to our relationships? I think it is mostly but not solely about our integrity being challenged or violated.

We may not be able to identify our boundaries, but we sure know when someone crosses that line! For me, it happens quickly and can feel like someone kicked me in the shins or the gut and then ran away, leaving me feeling like a limp dish rag.

I see myself as a person that is compassionate, accepting and very tolerant of people’s human foibles and then someone steps into my snare, is jerked off the ground and I smile while they dangle. They should have known better, right? When I get that jolt, I go instantly into why I am not “more tolerant, and most of the time get stuck in self-flagellation. I begin to do my “counselor thing” and remember the other person’s family history (that I have no idea about!). Poor thing…he/she couldn’t help it. They are doing the “best they can” and why I am I so judgmental? If I were a real friend/wife/husband/co-worker/parishioner I wouldn’t feel this way.  Familiar???

Boundaries are there for a reason. They help us take care of ourselves and what we believe and hold true as a good and right way to live in the world.  At times we will cross someone’s set point and it will be an innocent mistake. We didn’t know. There are people who lack an internal compass, are self-absorbed to the extent that they simply do not honor boundaries. Yes, they may have had a miserable and even traumatic childhood and empathy is useful in understanding them., but when their behavior begins to erode our sense of well-being and our tolerance dishonors our own healthy boundaries, it is time to return to our precious selves, ignoring all messages from those bony-fingered voices that say otherwise.

Enough is Enough Already!

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 I woke up at 4:45 this morning feeling like a four year-old waiting for Santa. This morning, I am heading out to the Delta where shorebirds abound, the sun is hot, and I can put my feet up and just relax. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

I wasn’t alone when my eyes opened this morning.  Already having had her proverbial “cup of coffee”,  one of the voices that cohabits  with me  was ready to spar. That grin suddenly disappeared and the frown line that resembles Ruth Buzzi on “Laugh In” took its place. “How could you be taking two days off when you have work to do??”, she said. OMG, we were off and running!

When is enough, enough? What is it in all of us that will not let us rest and just enjoy ourselves fully when it is time to relax and let go? I have a few ideas about that…

Thank God  I can blame my “dysfunctional family”.  I spent much of my childhood getting up at 4am, sleeping in a cold farmhouse and never being allowed to just “be”. My grandmother’s core belief was  “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop”. We shelled peas if we were going to sit down. We ironed clothes if we wanted to watch TV and we ALWAYS did our chores, our homework, everyone else’s chores and everyone else’s homework before we could go out to play. Everything had to be done before there could be any sort of joy or fun. Sound familiar??

Add to that living in a country that thrives on “more and better” and spawns such management ideas as “Work smarter, not harder”.  The United States boasts the highest rate of productivity, and this on the backs of American workers who come to work sick, smear rouge on their cheeks to look good in a meeting when they have the flu, and are proud to say they haven’t taken a single sick day in their careers. We coined the phrase “24/7” and wear it like a badge of honor.

Well, I have to go now. I gotta get packed and out of here. I am leaving “Miss Productivity” behind, giving her a Personal Day!

Bring Back That Lovin’ Feeling

My friend suggested that I get an editor to work with me on my blogs. I get the advantage of that, but I am so resistant to it.  I don’t want anyone or anything to edit me anymore. I want only one thing…to tell the truth, the absolute truth about how I see things.  Let me say this again…it is the way I see things, not necessarily THE truth.

 Tonight, what I am seeing is an absolutely predictable pattern in the way women behave in new relationships. Here is how it goes…

We see him, we have that surge of hormonal attraction and it feels SO GOOD. Anything that follows, including the truth, we will sweep under a convenient carpet because more than anything “we want that loving feeling”.

Next we begin to get the real story. “This is who I am. This is how I behave. This is my history with women.”  They TELL US exactly what the truth is, and like some Junior High School student, we put our fingers in our ears and start the “La, la, la, la…I don’t hear you….” We just want anything but the truth.

 Perhaps the truth that men tell us is more widespread than we can let in. Maybe if we believed it, we might know what we are truly up against. These guys, even in their best behavior, simply are looking always for the next best thing. Why? Maybe the hard work it takes to stop and settle down, believing that this is as good as it gets is simply not in their DNA???  Is the old adage about “sowing wild oats” true?  Do men and women operate like the animals we are?  Oh God, if that is true, what will it mean to take our fingers out of our ears and really open ourselves to that?

For the non-human members of the species, staying until the little ones are born is all they can expect. The males bring the food, even sit on the nest while she stretches her legs and that is what she can count on.  Beyond that, when those babies are hatched and fly the nest, the guys are off to the next best thing. Maybe that applies not only to the lower species. Imagine that?  There may be some truth here, and knowing more and more about our biology can give us the understanding we need to better understand one another. As research comes in on gender roles and differences, hormones and how critical they are not only in men and women as individuals, but also relationship behaviors, it will give us concrete information. My hope is that it will also mean more compassion for one another.  Though I have a lot to learn about oxytocin and testosterone, I know one thing for sure…compassion always provides a beautiful foundation for love.

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