Friday, October 25, 2019

Re-affirming My Boundaries & Re-claiming Myself

Writer’s Note:
The contract with myself below is not a result of any specific occurrence or situation in my life. For two years my health and my mental health have chipped away at my ability to be an effective advocate for myself and others. I enter this contract with myself without holding any resentments.  My life is a journey and adventure not without purpose that ebbs and flows. My adventures would be wasted if I didn’t allow myself moments of reflection that remind me who I am, why I am here, how I can become the best version of myself, and how I can best help others.

My life as of late has been filled with the tension of a chess game, and it’s my fault. To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, no one can make me feel inferior without me first giving them permission to do so.

No one can make me feel like they have too much control of my time, of my opinions and of my options without me first giving them too much access to my life.  When the chaotic world of the "me revolution" reveals its need for dominance, I must occasionally slap myself in the face, look in the mirror and reclaim the person I want to be.

Reclaiming my value in life while feeling no guilt for my self-preservation requires me to identify, understand and enforce my limits and boundaries.  This is a delicate but necessary dance of which I have always known the value; however, it’s easy for me to forget that this dance requires constant practice in order to execute it properly. 

I know what I excel at, and I know where my skills are lacking.  I also know what others excel at, and where their skills are lacking.  I know what is fair to me, and I know what is fair to others.  I know when I make a mistake, and I respect the steps I should undertake to correct my mistakes.  I also know that I will make more mistakes. I am accountable to myself.  I make decisions without the intent of harming others, and I can expect others to make decisions that don’t purposefully throttle me.

I have spent the better part of my adult life putting out fires while at the same time making a point of helping communities to level the playing field in a constantly uneven game. Helping others has always helped me. It helps me sleep at night. It helps me feel a sense of purpose. It helps me chip away at the hypocrisy of the world, and it gives me the energy to put out the next fire.  Lately, I stand with others and stand up for others more often than I stand up for myself. This is when I realized that without hitting the reset button, I am at risk of becoming ineffectual and useless. I wither and become full of self-doubt and self-pity.

"With my boundaries enforced, I can be angry without hate, and I can care about others without losing part of me in the process."

 I’ve come to realize that my life has become a chess game because somewhere along the way I tore up my previous contract with myself to enforce my personal boundaries.  I have been taking more care of others than I have been taking care of myself.  Water no longer rolls off my duck’s back.  There is a weight on my shoulders holding me down. Negativity is everywhere, and I am a part of it.  I have forgotten to prioritize myself. One of the things I say most often is, “Everything cannot be accomplished, and nothing can be accomplished with prioritizing”.

I need to reclaim my right to make myself my number one priority. I will become better at clearly presenting my expectations and boundaries to others because without these lines in the sand my ability to help others as well as myself is greatly diminished.  Life becomes murky with calculations, probabilities, risk assessments and wild emotions. With my boundaries enforced, I can be angry without hate, and I can care about others without losing part of me in the process.

Going forward I once again give myself permission to prioritize myself and to say no.  I also give myself permission to say no without further explanation and without guilt. I remove the need from myself and others of righteous indignation. I can admit to others when I am wrong, and I can walk away from others when they lack the capacity to do the same.  Boundaries empower individuals.  Boundaries empower relationships, and boundaries foster mutual respect.

I no longer want to play chess. I will tell you what I can give you, and I will respect your right to tell me what you can give me.  In the event our expectations of each other match, please consider this a contract of boundaries. Boundaries are not a point of negotiation. Boundaries are the means by which we can get back to the business of helping one another.

I will respect my boundaries in the future because without them I am lost.

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