Defending my boundaries
I developed coping skills which made me the person that I used to be, and for a long time I thought those skills actually were my personality
I had a dream last night that I moved into a beautiful new home. I arrived late at night so I didn’t see it all, but I woke up the next morning and started to explore it. I opened the back sliding glass door that had a sheer white curtain covering it, onto a large green space where I had a view of the sky and trees that was very peaceful to me. As I walked out onto the deck animals came from every direction and approached me. There were pigs, cows, horses and then a woman was walking behind them and said that they were her animals and she was my neighbor. She was smiling and seemed friendly but at the same time her animals were taking over my backyard, and she never asked if it was ok that she brought them over.
I sat down and talked to her, and I was friendly and nice and then I noticed that vultures started swooping in to chase my dog. I got up to make sure my dog was safe, and then I decided to explore the rest of the house. It was beautiful with light wood with many doors and windows, it was up on a hill with spacious decks that had peaceful views of the sky and mountains. The lady that was in my backyard came into my house too and started walking around and before I knew it there was 5 or 6 people walking through in my house who I didn’t invite.
I heard a knock at the door and I went to answer it, and it was my Ex-husband with groceries in his hand and a smile on his face. My peaceful new home that had been all mine when I had arrived the night before now turned in to a chaotic scene with all sorts of people and animals taking it over. People that seemed friendly at first, but then came into my house without my permission or really acknowledging whether I was ok with it.
The symbolism of this dream was not lost on me as I opened my eyes this morning. The house represented me. The house was light and bright with a lush green backyard, and I felt peace and happiness when I was there alone. But the animals and people stomped on my lush green backyard, and then entered my house and turned it into chaos. I was running around the house following them but never even questioned why these people were here to begin with, or how they got in. I just accepted they were in my house and I tried to manage the damage they were creating.
I have been working hard at finding my inner peace these last few months. I have been doing this by taking a step back from dating and making new friends, and instead taking the time to focus on myself. A big part of this has been changing my morning routine which consists of getting up at 5AM, having coffee, doing a 20 minute yoga routine, and walking my dog to the beach. Doing this routine gives my body and mind the message that I am in charge of my day. After work, I started taking yoga classes at my outdoor gym, doing cardio and eating a healthy dinner. I combine this with reading books about yoga and spirituality, and interacting only with people that I trust and that I know have my back.
This work I have done on myself, has helped to give me space between the actions of others, and how it impacts me. In the dream I had last night the house before all the people arrived was my space. The feeling I had walking around the house alone was my inner peace. The people that arrived with smiles and then ended up crossing boundaries and creating chaos in my life, are the people that I trusted and let in. After I let them in, I just followed them around my own house doing damage control rather than asking them why they were even there. I didn’t ask any questions, and I didn’t ask them to leave. Instead, I Iet their chaotic energy become mine.
I know that I have come a long way in protecting my boundaries, but unfortunately I feel I still have a long way to go. This fact is very frustrating to me. How many times can I learn the same lesson of letting people into my life, that turn out to create chaos and negativity for me. I honestly feel stupid that this keeps happening to me. I would like to start to make more friends, now that the lockdown is coming to an end, and I would like to date again. But I am scared, and not sure I trust myself enough that I won’t let a smiling face walk into my life that is going to take my peace away.
It is hard to break a pattern of toxicity, and the first step is awareness. In the past, I wasn’t even aware that people were taking advantage of me, I was just sad and lonely. Now I see it. My inner work has given me that space between me and them where I can see the truth. But I still have a hard time doing anything about it. As I work on getting the skills to defend myself, I can feel my whole body shake and my mind cloud over. I am not sure if this reaction is a releasing of the old pattern, or my fear of retaliation in defending myself. I was taught from a young age to just ‘deal’ with inappropriate and hurtful behavior. I wasn’t allowed to defend myself. I developed coping skills which made me the person that I used to be, and for a long time I thought those skills actually were my personality. They weren’t! They were just behaviors that I learned so that I could survive on own.
Those behaviors led me into a marriage where I accepted inappropriate behavior because I didn’t know that I didn’t have to accept it. I saw relationships as puzzles to figure out, and give and take negotiations. I know I didn’t have the skills to love with an open heart. I wanted to, but I didn’t know how. I tried to connect, be honest, show my love but I was pushed away and left to heal my own wounds of hurt. I blamed myself. I didn’t have the space back then to see that it wasn’t my fault. Now I do. Now I look back and feel sad for the person that I was. I tried so hard with someone who had no desire to connect with me. Maybe he didn’t know how either. It is not about blaming anymore, it is just about seeing the situation for how it was. I will never know how he felt, or what he thought.
So, I move forward today, a year after my divorce, feeling unsure and scared but also I have trust that I will slowly move to a place where it will feel natural to defend myself. Or hopefully move to a place where I am surrounded by people that are interested in connection and growth and not interested in crossing boundaries and using each other. Right now I am in that beautiful house, and I am grateful that I can finally see it, but I have work to do on making that beautiful house mine alone, and not letting in uninvited guests.