There once was a girl named Me. Seriously, it was me. I believed in magical things. Like Santa and upside down cake. I met a very very handsome brain surgeon. He looked like Oscar de la Hoya, but he was not Hispanic, he was a white dude. But equally as sexy and fit. And he was magically charming and handsome. Did I mention he was a brain surgeon too? Yes, a brain surgeon. A true prince charming.
We dated nearly four years. He made me laugh, he went to all my family functions, we got dogs together… my families – yes, all extended family, including family in Malaysia- loved him. Dr. D. Swoon. We picked out my condo together. We picked out his condo together. We traveled. We read. We ate amazing food, and talked about the philosophies of life wee into the night. My life was perfect.
But then one day something changed- he seemed … off. My gut was telling me, there’s something going on! But I couldn’t believe it. How could almost four years of perfection be off?
Lemme save you the time and let you know the end of the story. He broke up with me- well, actually, I ended up breaking up with him- I was sort of coerced into it- and I was brokenhearted. I’ll save the rest of the story for another time (yes, it gets juicier). After the breakup, I had about a month before I was to move to the City of Angels from Seattle.
One would think that I would be packing and getting all my ducks in a row for such an interstate move… and I did… but in the meantime… I stalked the hell out of my ex. Now, this was 2003, well before Facebook, well before cell phones had color on the screens. All I had to stalk with were drive-bys and some limited internet searches. So drive-bys it was. I drove by a week after our breakup and he was cleaning up his place, emptying red party cups. Yes, PARTY. The kid threw a damn party. I was furious. I stopped by again, and knocked on the door, but when I looked inside, I saw women’s wedges. Lady wedges!!! He had already found someone after a week!? I dissolved into tears.
Why was I doing this? Why did I torture myself?? Granted, the guy was an integral part of my life for three plus years, but the last year or so, he wasn’t being the best partner. And to top it off, I had essentially given my life up to him. I had no boundaries.
If he said ‘jump,’ I’d say ‘how high?’ If he said, ‘do this,’ I would do it. I would do anything for this guy because I was ‘madly in love’ with him. And thought he was to be my future groom.
RULE #1 in Life- Have some boundaries
I equate boundaries to self-respect. You don’t have boundaries? You don’t have self-respect. And that certainly was the case with me. I didn’t have self… anything. I gave myself away. No boundaries.
My next boyfriend was worse- a verbally abusive mess of a man… and I took that for two years… I never did fix that self-respect/boundary thing. Dr. D had just jumped right on into something new- why couldn’t I? The easiest way to forget a guy is to replace him- right? I waited two whole months to replace Dr. D with Mr. Jekyll. I did what Jekyll asked. I just thought I was ‘being the good one’ or ‘being nice’.
I had no boundaries.
Boundaries define what of us belongs to us and what belongs to others. Knowing your values, who you are, what you believe in. What you are willing to endure, and what you are not. Where you draw the line at how others treat you- whether in relationships, with family, friends, kids, or co-workers. It’s understanding where your level of self-respect begins.
It’s important to have boundaries. It allows people in without walking over you. It sets up the expectations and rules of your life for others to follow and respect. Everyone should have some sort of boundary.
Now, what is the difference between a boundary and a wall? Easy.
Rule #2: Don’t have walls
Oh, I had walls too. Don’t you worry about that. So isn’t that funny… I had no boundaries, but I had plenty of walls?
Walls are what we put up when we are scared. Afraid of opening up, letting people in. Why is it that the people with the biggest, tallest walls, always seem to have the most invisible line when it comes to boundaries?
Self-respect. That word again. If you are clear on your boundaries, you can take down those walls. The boundaries will protect you- not the walls. The walls block everything out. The boundaries are more like a sieve. It won’t let the big junk in- just the refined, stuff that plays by your rules. That treats you properly. It loves you in the real sense. It respects you and your value.
I’m in a great place now- my boundaries are clearly defined and my walls are pretty much non-existent. I may challenge someone a bit because I want them to take my time seriously… I don’t have much anymore to give out… and since then, life has been a lot easier, much more fun, and way more enjoyable!