Boundaries and Expectations

Boundaries are personal property lines

I’m too hard on myself. I attempt to do too much, without saying enough. I’m a giver, and I hate conflict, so sometimes it’s easier for me to just not say anything when I’m bothered by actions (or lack of) on the part of other people in my life. It’s incredibly stressful for me to talk about the ways they’re disappointing me, but then when I don’t speak up, it’s still incredibly stressful to be disappointed. It sounds simple, really, but from where I’m sitting, it’s a giant stress dragon, just trying to eat me alive from the toes up.

I’m suffering right now, but there’s no one I feel comfortable talking about it with. No, that’s not it. It’s that I’m too cowardly to bring it up to the one friend I should be talking about it with. And now that I’ve been stewing in the stress for a little while, of course I feel like the person should have already sensed my issue and be addressing it. But the problem isn’t with me or with our relationship, exactly. It’s about the limits I should have been placing, long ago. And now that I failed to enact such simple measures to keep this healthy, I’m overreaching. I’m doing too much. I feel that the balance is off, and things are out of whack.

So what do I do? I want our friendship to survive. There are so many good points. And I could keep up the “not talking about my problems” thing forever, if I wanted. I have lots of prior practice with that. But this isn’t sustainable. I can’t afford the emotional weight this is placing on me. I want to be supportive and have a can-do attitude, but I’ve got my own baggage to take care of.

The key is to let go of my expectations for myself. In the past, I’ve been the dead weight. My job is to make sure I don’t do that to anyone else. But it’s also to make sure that no one does it to me, either. It is not my job to be a babysitter, or a bankroller, or a cheerleader if I’m not emotionally capable of that responsibility. I can assess my needs and my friends’ needs on a daily basis, and make the call as to what I’m capable of that day. But right now my responsibility is to me. I don’t have children for a reason. It’s not my job to take on the world right now. It’s to heal myself. If our friendship is to survive, I need to find a way to set boundaries (out loud, in the presence of others), let go of the guilt and pride, and just take each day as it comes.