Boundaries are blurry in most relationships. If you think about it a lot of our dynamics our unequal, either circumstantially such as in our work hierarchy, or due to unhealthy relationships such as with a toxic ex. Unhealthy boundaries aren't set in a day.
Usually they're pushed further and further to see how much you cave. Your standard for healthy boundaries changes the more that you give, and the less you take. You end up rationalizing behavior that you don't deserve and forget where to draw the line
Twitter user @ErynnBrook learned the importance of boundaries from her mom at a young age and she shared a personal story about a time when this advice came into play. While her reminder may be uncomfortable, it's an important one to read for everyone.
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Being Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
It's naive to think that we go our whole life living comfortably. At some point, someone is going to say or do something that is going to make us uncomfortable. At that point, we will be faced with two choices.
Either we will choose to do nothing about it, internalizing or brushing off what they said despite the weight of their words or actions affecting us. Or, we can create a boundary to protect ourselves from those people and situations. How exactly we create these boundaries is the hard part.
Words That Stuck Forever
The words we speak to children stay with them for life. That's why it's crucial that we chose those words carefully along with the message that they carry them. What this mother communicated to a seven-year-old girl were safety and protection. She let her know that even when the worst happens, there is a way to find safety.
"She was very clear. She said even if her parents have gone to bed I want you to knock on their bedroom door and ask to use the phone. I could call her even if it was late. And if her parents didn't answer the door to just go find the phone and call her anyway," she adds.
Others May Say Otherwise
The 7-year-old girl took her mother up on her offer. While she didn't remember the exact circumstances, she at some point felt comfortable, likely because she was being teased. So she remembered her mother's words and decided to call her. However, her friend's parents tried to discourage her:
" She said it was late, I said my mum didn’t care. She said I could sleep on the couch. I said I wanted to go home. She said I was upsetting her daughter, I said she was mean to me."
It's Not About Fitting In
Erynn's mother showed up in pajama pants and a coat. The host's mother was embarrassed and kept apologizing: "my mum put up a hand and said "don’t apologize for my daughter. I want her to know she’s allowed to leave and I’ll be there for her at any time."
The little girl could've stayed just to fit in, or her mother could have refused to pick her to push her out of her comfort zone, but instead, they both chose to acknowledge their feelings and honor them even though it may have looked weird to everyone else.
"I remember the little crowd of sleepover girls huddled in the far doorway that led to the bedrooms, watching all of this confused and silent. And I remember that mom apologizing, " adds Erynn.
Anyplace, Anywhere At Any Point
This same mentality and dynamic stayed between the mother and daughter all throughout her upbringing. "I remember her telling 3 friends to sit in the front room with their bags packed while they waited for their parents to come get them, after I had told them all to "get out of my house" for teasing me and bullying me."
Clearly, it was important for the mother for her daughter to know her place in the world and know her worth. She made sure that she asked for what she deserved and knew where to draw the line when someone or something wasn't serving her. She affirmed over and over again that it's okay to say no anywhere, to anyone at any point.
We Don't Have To Always Toughen Up
Think about it. We've all been put in situations we didn't want to be in at some point and convinced ourselves that we just had to push through them anyway. We've caved to social pressure or listened to authority by doing things that were outside our comfort zones and brought no actual benefit to us. Whether it was staying in a toxic relationship or working for a hostile boss, we tend to push the mentality of just sticking out anyway.
Erynn's experience taught her it was okay to walk away: "I remember her coaching me through a speech on how to resign and leave a hostile work environment when I was in the middle of nowhere at a camp for the summer, and she offered money to get a cab to pick me and my friends up."
Living Outside Of The Norm
Unfortunately, boundaries aren't normalized or taught to us from a young age. We mistake generosity, empathy, a hard work ethic, and sacrifice as necessary attributes for us to succeed in our careers and maintain our relationships. While we need a healthy dose of all the above, it's not supposed to be to the point of crossing our boundaries at the cost of burnout, our mental health, morals, freedom, and time.
"I can't say I’ve always followed my gut on boundaries and discomfort. I can’t say I’ve never swallowed it in order to make others comfortable. But I can say what she taught me was important. It was and still is radical."
Three Radical Rules
Erynn's mom set her up with three rules that should be given as opportunities for us all. The first rule tells us that we can leave if we want to. That doesn't just mean sleepovers. We can leave a party, a date, our husbands, our jobs, our homes, our cities, our families. We can set up boundaries and choose where to draw the line.
The second rule is that we don't have to justify our "why" to anyone else. As long as our boundaries make sense to us, and honor our feelings then it shouldn't matter why. Third, we need to show up for ourselves and surround ourselves with those who support our boundaries. That's a boundary within itself.
It's Okay To Say No
"But I think a lot about the girl's mum apologizing and how... that’s the norm, actually. What my mum taught me was radical, what that girl’s mum was teaching was the norm," says Erynn. Our society makes us feel like we need to apologize for our boundaries. It pushes such a go go go culture that we feel guilty when we just need time off, when we want to choose our family over work's next big project or when we walk to walk away from a long marriage.
As Erynn explains, the norm of the mentality dictates: "Just deal with it, don’t trouble anyone, go back to sleep, it’ll be over soon, don’t ruin it." But, that's not healthy or the way it has to be. We deserve to say enough is enough.
You Are Allowed To Leave!
The idea that you just have to persevere at any cost is all too common, even for Erynn: "I still get that message from a lot of places. But my mum taught me that I'm allowed to leave.
I see what a privilege that is as an adult. For some people, in some situations, there is no way out. But sometimes, also, we don’t leave because we think we’re not allowed."
Walk Away Whenever You Want
Erynn shared her story to remind us that we don't have to stay anywhere we don't want to be, especially not if it's to make someone other than ourselves comfortable. You can always leave. If you're in a situation where you can't just pick up and go, ask yourself what it is that you need to leave and remind yourself that you're allowed to leave.
In any relationship, always look at how you feel and ask yourself: does this person make you love yourself more? Do you want to grow old with them?
Love is more than just kisses and butterflies, it's much more than that. If you want to know more on what your birth chart reveals about how you love and what you need out of a partner, check out this personalized report based on date of birth.