Monday, January 5, 2015

Circling Back To Boundaries, Part Two

If you're here to vote in Battle of the Bands, go back one post.

If you're here for the IWSG post, come back on Wednesday.

This is part two of my BOUNDARIES post. If you missed part one, click HERE.


Okay, so last week mom and I went to Sam's Club. While I was at the membership desk getting a Sam's credit card (since she filed for bankruptcy, she lost her cards), she was shopping. When I catch up to her, she has two rolls of ribbon in the cart.

Note: I'm a nut for Christmas supplies. I just love Christmas. I love wrapping paper, ribbon, ornaments, anything snowman. A nut. It's been a conscious decision to NOT buy this stuff. Since mom and I have combined our Christmas wrapping paper, we've discovered that we have enough paper to last the rest of our lives, and it could be handed down, lasting that person their entire lifetime. We tend to reuse the "good" ribbon, so we've got a lot of that, too.

This ribbon in the cart was the thin wire ribbon, possibly the only element of the gift wrapping process we were lacking. Of course, I was immediately drawn to the ribbon. (Oooh pretty. I must touch it.) I say, "The ribbon was on sale? I want to see the ribbon." There may have been slobber involved here. Can't say for sure.

She says, "We don't need the wide ribbon." Tell me something I DON'T know. "So, we don't need any more ribbon."

And, my blood pressure spikes. In fact,  a whole bunch of thoughts went through my head in the space of thirty seconds. But, I want to see the ribbon. Why do you get to choose the ribbon? What if I like something? I'm paying (50%) for the ribbon, but I don't get to choose?????

And then I think of all the fighting we've done. Remember that Frasier video? Seems like it's constant bickering over Her (Imaginary) Man. So, I say nothing. Nix looking at the ribbon. And I didn't think any more about it. Honestly.

But, that night I had this horrible dream (make it in the very early morning) and I woke up with a migraine in my right eye. Very painful shizzle. What was the dream? Mom and I were wrapping gifts. She got the table. I had to wrap on the floor. She got the tape. She made me use glue. And I was frustrated and pissed and... well, pissed.

I knew it was all related to that damn ribbon escapade the day before. So, I debated my course of action with my eye pulsing. Not fun. Got up and told her about the dream. And she says, "If you wanted to see the ribbon, you should've said so." And I told her I did say so. And her response was we have enough ribbon. True. Then she says, "Well, there wasn't any point because these were the only two styles of thin ribbon." Aha. Now, if she'd said that my desire to see the ribbon... gone.

So, later that day, it's me and my therapist. I've done more thinking about this and realized that this whole thing wasn't about ribbon, contrary to what you might be thinking. It came back to the five fundamental things I figured out last year caused my chronic migraines. The pattern started in junior high school and I revisited it when I got married. Both of those situations made me feel;

Trapped
Loss of voice
Abused
No confidence
Not good enough

The ribbon was lack of voice. I felt like my voice didn't matter. I said I wanted to see the ribbon. She said we didn't need more ribbon. It was a parent to child exchange. Or a person who makes decisions talking to someone who doesn't get a say. And instead of holding to my boundary of "my voice is important," I sacrificed it to not have a (potential) disagreement. And this is how we hurt ourselves.

Every single of the above issues that I've rooted out of junior high and being married (causing illness) came about because I lacked the ability to set and maintain a boundary. Whenever we disregard our own boundaries, we create a problem. I'm not even certain those are ALL of the negative things that came about by those two circumstances (junior high and marriage), but I know that when my migraine escalates to jackhammer status, something has happened. I only need to look at recent events to determine what the REAL PROBLEM is.

The good news: setting and maintaining boundaries will improve your life. The bad news: it is hard. It's really hard if you've never done it well and you're in your 40s. The good news: understanding the core issues helps you to know when you're experiencing one. The untrained eye would've thought this was about ribbon. It wasn't. The bad news: understanding your issues on a rational level isn't enough. You actually have to dig in there and do the "work" of letting all that shizzle go (past crap) AND learn how to do better in your present. Egads. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Have you read about boundaries? Do you fully understand how setting good boundaries impacts all of your relationships in favorable ways? Likewise, not setting them makes a big ole mess? Have you ever noticed that physical pain in your body correlates directly to emotional pain in your heart?

36 comments:

  1. Lol.
    I hope you had an amazing 2015.

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    1. This wasn't a laughing matter at the time. Believe me.

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  2. As a parent, I try really hard to keep my mouth shut when my grown children are making decisions. They're pretty good about standing up for themselves, much better than I was at their age. Glad you figured out the issue. Once you see it and understand it, you have a path to walk toward improvement.

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    1. Understanding something and acting (sagely) upon that understanding are two very different things. But, you're right that if you don't even understand the problem, you have no hope of bettering the situation.

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  3. You're also facing the parent-child dynamic, which further complicates the boundary-setting (part of her will see you as her little girl until the day she dies).

    I tend to avoid conflict on issues that are unimportant to me, only to have it fester. Not healthy.

    However, I will echo what FAE said on your last post. Your mother will not be around forever, so balancing what to and not to fight over may be a good strategy (providing it does not result in further agita).

    My mother and I used to argue about everything, and neither of us would give an inch. When I moved to AZ, and went back for my first visit, I found us arguing over something stupid, and I caved. I resolved then to let everything go rather than to spend what few hours a year I had to visit arguing over something I'd forget the import of a day later. And I pretty much pulled that off from 1995 through 2013.

    I'm not saying to give in on everything-you two live together. But maybe you can find a balance between setting the important boundaries and enjoying the time you have with your mom.

    Enough of my unsolicited two cents...have a happy and healthy 2015! What the heck do I know about relationships anyway? I have a hard enough time getting along with the cat!

    Larry

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    1. Yes, the parent-child dynamic is always at play in the relationship with my mom. However, that doesn't change the need of setting boundaries... and sticking to them. This is MY work and not hers.

      The point of the ribbon story was that it was up to me to say, "Well, I want to see the ribbon." She would've said, "Okay, go see it or," or "There isn't any point since these are the only two styles of ribbon." Either way, I wouldn't have gotten the migraine because I spoke up (and that was the crux of my issue).

      In the next installment of Boundary Issues, I will address the boundary I attempted to set regarding Her Man and the epic failure that is still rolling out today. My point is that boundaries are tough.

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    2. Agree-boundaries are tough in "normal" relationships, and I think the parent dynamic makes it harder because it's a relationship where the offspring (felt funny saying "child") normally does not set them...or at least not at the level you need to.

      You could just give Mom a beatdown....nothing says "boundary" like a good can of Whup-Ass!

      (kidding about that last part....hang in there!)

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    3. Yes, I know you were kidding, but I still laughed. Ah... if only it were that easy...

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  4. The parent-child relationship is touchy anyway. And sometimes hard to grow out of. I think I've finally achieved a balance.

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    1. I give you rounds of applause. Boundaries are not easy. If you've got working, successful ones... woohoo!

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  5. Balance is the thing. Balancing between the concept that repressing doesn't seem to do you any good and that the triggers can be piddly things. The thing the dream tells you is that it is important enough to deal with. But your mom doesn't seem to be the type to grasp the problem readily. On the bright side- and forgive me if I've said this before- at least you have a mom around to work things out with.

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    1. In my comment to Larry above, I pointed out some stuff that I think also addresses your comment. As you both point out, I should be (and am) grateful that mom is here for me to working things out with... that is a blessing. And the work of setting and maintaining the boundaries is mine, not hers. There will always be people with whom you constantly have to reassert your boundaries. It may be a spouse, sibling, co-worker, neighbor, friend... the list is endless really. Ergo, it is most important to have working boundaries with the folks you have the most contact. If you, and I mean I, can do that... than those other relationships get easier.

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  6. It is so hard to find a balance and before one realizes it, one goes right back into the typical mode of things-like the exchange between you and your mom. Stress is a major player in pain. I love my mom and she lived with me for 12 years before she needed extra care due to her dementia but there were times I could have just screamed! Your exchange with the ribbon made me nod in understanding. My mom would say something similar and then later deny it and wonder why I would make something up like that...when I didn't! It would drive me up the wall!! It took great strength to counteract what she would say or want me to do. I had something similar but with wrapping paper. I didn't buy it at that time but later, I went out and bought it and showed her. Her response...."well, if you want to waste your money, it's up to you..." Later on she asked me for the paper! I told her no and we had an argument as she called me selfish-hahahaaaaaa. It's a tough thing but I believe in you

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    1. Oh boy. I don't look forward to those days when my mom starts to really lose it. She's not as sharp now as she once was. I'm not sure how boundaries will relate to the person who suffers from dementia, but I suspect I'll learn.

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    2. I pray your mother (and you) do not experience dementia. The "normal" deterioration that came with his eighties was hard enough for me to watch with my Dad.

      If memory loss is a sure fire sign of dementia, I am in deep doo-doo!

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  7. You have a lot of insight, Robin. That's going to take you leaps and bounds towards physical and emotional optimal health.

    I was, in fact, thinking the other day that every relationship involves some co-dependence and the need to constantly navigate boundaries. Complicated stuff. You're doing great with it, though.

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    1. Robyn,as someone who's read this blog for a while... you know some of of the ups and downs and ins and outs. I am coming to believe that all of my health problems and relationship problems all stem from an inability to set healthy boundaries. I may not see it, but my soul sure does, and it makes me physically ill. The need to learn this skill is imperative if I want to live a healthy, migraine-free life. Believe me, I DO. So, I share what I'm learning here and hope it helps someone else along the way.

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  8. I know I am very lucky to have a happy marriage, but I still feel that lack of voice thing where I don't speak up when I know I should. I don't say, "Show me the ribbons!" Or I get an answer like, "We have enough ribbons" which robs me of choice when the very real fact "There aren't any other kinds of ribbons" would have satisfied me and heard my voice. Not speaking up, asserting our needs is a very, very common habit and hard to break. Twenty years of marriage haven't perfected this.

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    1. Lack of voice is a b#tch. The really yucky thing about is that no one can take it away from us. We must choose to give it up ourselves. Well, unless someone binds our mouth, that is. I don't think that is the case for either one of us. What I know is that every time we choose to keep silent, when our heart is screaming, we die a little. And that makes us sick. The healthy thing is to learn to assert our needs in a reasonable way.

      Yes, it is a common habit. I hope that reading this reminds you to find your own voice. I sure don't want you to become sick from repressing your voice. You can do it!

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  9. Hi Robin. Awareness is key, and you're right on track. Congratulations, and more successes to come!

    I truly enjoyed your post (smile).

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    1. I'm on the track. I'm off the track. The track and I have an iffy relationship. But thanks!

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  10. Oh my dear, this is tough. Every little thing can be so loaded with a parental relationship. And seeing that others have experienced the whole 'parent says something mean or thoughtless and then totally doesn't remember it' thing is comforting. Having you share this and walk thru your thoughts is helpful for so many who share a similar experience.
    Be sure to stay true to yourself. It's not worth the pain-literally.

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    1. I really feel like if I can step up and learn to set healthy boundaries here it will be the start of something good. The next time I meet someone worth my time (yeah, I'm talking a boyfriend), I'll be capable of establishing healthy boundaries right from Go. That will carry over into all of my relationships. Beginning is never easy.

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  11. At least you were able to see the true meaning behind the ribbon. It's when we don't that it can grow into unhealthy behaviors.

    My relationship with my mother changed several times. I was the child-and we fought hard-when I lived at home. When I moved away, we became more like friends. The last twenty years of her life, I became the parent.

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    1. I think the relationship with our parents change over the years (naturally). It gets tougher when you live with your parent as an adult. The dynamic is different than when you were a child, but fitting into those new roles can be tough. Hence, the need for clear, healthy boundaries.

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  12. Oh, Robin, I feel your pain. Just wait till the roles are reversed and you become the parent to your parent. It's never-ending. You're doing such good work rooting out the causes for your physical symptoms

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    1. I hate to even say this, but in some ways I feel this is already happening. And it may be the reason we are, once again, having boundary issues. That's some food for thought right there.

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  13. I know that some dreams are just a mishmash of the day's events but then there are others that are truly insightful - like yours - if we can figure them out. Glad you were able to do that and talk to your mom. Silence is not always golden.

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    1. I think our dreams are often a big clue into what's rolling around in our subconscious. As you say, often it's just chaos in there, but there are many times that things happen in our dreams that reflect how we feel. It's always good to pay attention and notice what's what.

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  14. I hate to disappoint others or make anyone upset, so boundaries have always been hard for me too. And I, of course, married a red-headed, stubborn man. We've had some trying times, believe you me. Or I should say I... Here's to continued clarity in your life!

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    1. This seems to be a common problem for people pleasers. Setting boundaries means having what-can-be difficult conversations. It's not easy to say, "I don't like what you're doing here."

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  15. Did your therapist ever suggest trying yoga and meditation? Since these disagreements will probably continue, you have to try to stop the pain from coming on before it starts. I know you've probably tried everything since you've been battling migraines for years, but since you know these episodes are likely to bring them on, there might be a better technique to fight them off. Though it's easier said than done, you have to put your health first. Maybe your mom could go to your next therapy session with you, so you don't have to come off as the bad guy. I hope things get better soon, Robin.

    Julie

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    1. I don't think it is the disagreeing that notches up my migraine. I think it has more to do with my choices. If I choose to not speak up (forfeiting my voice) that is what causes the problem. Now it doesn't help that I have spoken up regarding my mother's online dating--and she doesn't listen to me. But, I can't control her (she's a grown woman), AND she has to learn her own lessons.

      However, I listen to a meditation CD at least once a day. Yes, I think it does help. I used to do yoga before I hurt my shoulder. Now that it is getting better, I should consider starting again... Thanks!

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  16. Hi Robin,

    I just finished reading your last four posts (I've been off blogger the last few weeks). so much to say I know I'll forget something.

    Congrats on the decrease in migraines. I am so happy to hear that some progress is being made on the migraine front. That shit just sucks ass. Truly.

    Also, congrats on the progress of your book. Such fantastic news! You really have a flair for writing. I'm glad you're migraines aren't hindering your progress, that rocks.

    And, finally (maybe), I'm happy to hear you're revisiting your boundaries. As you know, I can relate in abundance with lack of boundaries (and migraines). Once boundaries are crossed, it can be so hard to reestablish them because we don't always figure out they're being crossed until they've been trampled and crushed by someone we love.

    I've had to revisit mine too and it blows. I just wanted things to be "normal" but that doesn't happen when those around us aren't in a healthy place and feel the need to take their issues out on those closest to them; their loved one.

    I hope and pray things continue to improve for you on the migraine front and good job on getting back to your boundaries. Hugs, chick!

    Elsie

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    1. It was a huge eye-opener for me to see how the ribbon incident (and the dream that followed) notched my migraine up to Out of Control. I know that I believed that our emotional life contributed to our pain, but to get that first-hand experience in such a way that was undeniable... it was very powerful.

      It makes me realize just how important doing the boundary work is. Also, just making healthy choices. I know you know what I mean here.

      I don't know why we don't revisit boundaries until they are (usually) out of control. Maybe it's because it's so darn uncomfortable. Of course, a constant migraine is pretty darn uncomfortable, too.

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  17. It is hard! Harder still when you start late because people expect you not to have them, and def. not to enforce them when you finally do try to implement them, and they get insulted when you have the audacity to follow through. Not that I have experience with this or anything. ;)

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