When the Good is Really Good But You Still Need Boundaries
Good evening and welcome to day 24 of my daily self comittment to write each day for 15 minutes.
Currently listening to Sara Bareilles on Pandora and recalibrating after Holidays, family time, too much food and crazy amounts of sugar.
I think there is a misconception that if your life is really really good—like the kind of good that screams happiness on your instagram that you never ever ever have a bad day. I know people talk about this all of the time—that instagram or whatever social media platform you choose is not a true reflection of your life. If anyone is still under the impression that social media is a 360 of anyone’s life, let’s have a separate chat.
However, I think my holiday experience is a prime example of things being really really good and also hard at the same time. My holiday was full of laughter and good memories, sometimes I snuck away with the four-year old to get a break from ALL of it for a moment or offered to change my niece so I could pretend we were the only people in the world. Why? Because even the best parties, with the people we truly love and care for can cause us to need more boundaries.
For example, when I picked my puppy up from his overnight playground they told me that he was very social, loved to play and basically didn’t stop the entire time. So guess what he is doing right now? Sleeping. I went downstairs to make a cup of tea and take him potty and before the hot water was boiled he took himself back upstairs and got on the bed. He has never done this and I guarantee its because Billy had no boundaires during his time at puppy playground over Christmas. As a matter of fact he is actually sighing deeply and softly growling right now because he wants me to turn the lights and music off and go to bed. Grumpy puppy. It is 8:30pm.
I am the same as Billy. I love to be social, I can listen like the best of them, ask good questions, help do the dishes, wrap the presents, fold the laundry, prepare the baby bottle and dance to the music until the wee hours of the morning…but then I crash. I love the good—I love to make good—stir the good up—make it appear and spread like wildfire, but sometimes even the good, even time with our loved ones can cause us to be grumpy and not ourselves and ready for some alone time.
So what do we do when the good is really good but we still need boundaires? This is the time for personal negotiations. This is a time for a team meeting, a symphony of the mind. See how this tool keeps coming back around? It’s not just for when we have to make some drastic life decision. Team meetings are for every single day of our lives. On Christmas Eve I did a wonderful job with my boundaires. I started my morning with a brisk walk then I ran an errand, by myself, for my Aunt, and then I did 45 minutes of Yoga. In total, during a day full of family time I had three hours completely to myself in a house full of people where I was sharing a room with my sister. And the more lovely part of this story is that my sister and I were also able to recognize that the other one needed that time and shared our space wisely.
When we get upset, when we get grouchy and overwhelmed and off balance it is 99% of the time because we did not set up our boundaries correctly. In past years I had no boundaries, I would bounce around and try to make the best of everything, find no time for myself and then the car ride home would be a disaster. I would be boiling the entire time, craving time to myself, craving proper boundaires and then I would explode with emotion at the end because it was too much to take. If anyone in my family was also having an off day it was impossible to be in the same space. Three strong Italian women and none of them have set up the proper boundaires? No thanks.
In love, boundaries are so much harder. I can think of countless times where I wanted my partner to feel seen, understood and included and so I would ignore my boundaires. I wouldn’t take time for myself, I wouldn’t opt out of participating when it was too much and the resentment would just build up and up and up until finally I was in bed and could barely make it down for breakfast. And then what kind of partner was I? A sleepy comatose one.
It is good to show up for the people we love. It is good to attend the party, it is good to spend the Holidays together but you have to make sure that you have enough of yourself to do these things. You have to make sure you don’t harm yourself along the way.
The internal team meeting works for this, I promise promise promise you. Clearly my Yoga Instructor showed up this Christmas and needed 45 minutes and my doer definitely needed to leave the house and accomplish some tasks. By giving time to those parts of myself I opened up the opportunity to engage in the good.
I watched the new Ellen DeGeneres Netflix comedy special today when I got home. Something she said really stuck with me. Her first girlfriend died in a car accident. She was the first person that Ellen really loved that she ever lost. Ellen was in the lowest emotional and financial point in her life. She sat down one day thinking about what it might be like to have a conversation with God where he would answer any question you asked. So she started writing down her ideas around this and these ideas led to her comedy writing—a joke about fleas (her apartment was flea infested at the time). In that same journal, during the lowest time in her life, she wrote down that she would perform this joke on Johnny Carson and be the first woman comedian to be invited over to sit with him and chat.
Six years later Ellen appeared on the Johnny Carson show and told the flea joke and she was the first woman comedian to be invited over by Johnny to sit down for a chat.
We can continue to blame our circumstances and environments for our shortcomings and problems or we can take radical responsibility for our own lives and make them the way we want them to be. We can decide to feel the way we want to feel through awareness, boundaries, team meetings and practice or we can play victim to our circumstances. Ellen transcended a life she didn’t want to live. She chose to look around and say, “No, this can’t be it. But this will be.” And by doing so, by taking care of herself, by showing up for herself, she got to sit next to Johnny Carson.
It can be the hardest to set the boundaries with the people we care about the most, but it is there that it is actually the most simple; because the people that care about you the most want you to take radical responsibility for your own life. If they don’t, it might be time to find some different people to have caring about you.
Billy and I wil be turning off the lights soon and I will be meditating and recalibrating, because even I was a little loose with my boundaries this past week. We aren’t perfect, we are all works in progress—and that’s why you can start from wherever you are at anytime.