Boundaries, was How Adult Children CAN Walk Away

This morning I started to write a post about boundaries, because I was appalled by the reactions I saw last night to parts of the season 4 premiere of "Hoarders". Someone made a very raw comment regarding Janet's absent children that hit me deeply.

I had written three or four paragraphs when I got distracted by a hungry baby. Afterward, I took a shower and came back to the computer and realized that there was no way I could finish that post. My righteous indignation, I realized, wasn't going to do anyone any good.

So, I am now writing a post about boundaries, but I'm not going to fall into that pit.

Our whole society seems to lack healthy boundaries. We blur the lines of where we begin and end versus where those around us begin and end. Of course, there are times for us to melt into one another, and if you're like me, that's tough too.

I see these issues in my own household. My teen daughter has a cellphone that rings or notifies her of text messages 24 hours a day. I find myself telling her to turn it off, leave it in her room, or ignore it so that we can have a family dinner uninterrupted. With the rise of digital media, others have the ability to infringe upon our lives more and more if we don't have healthy boundaries.

I have a cellphone and it does remain "on" 24/7. I am the emergency contact for my mother so I keep my cellphone in my room at night on vibrate. Let me assure you, I will not be responding to texts at 2am. But if someone has a true emergency, I will answer.

But family is a tougher issue. Can you create boundaries that are healthy in an unhealthy relationship? YES!

The other week my mom and I actually discussed that I had screened her calls for almost 15 years. She'd had no idea, but she understood why I had done it. I know that the admission that I'd chosen NOT to take her calls at times hurt her feelings. But I also knew that at those times, if I had taken her call I would have been the one nursing hurt feelings.

It's hard to understand, but sometimes it is okay to risk hurting someone else's feelings to protect your own. SOMETIMES, maybe even ALL THE TIME. Only the person establishing the boundary can determine where the line should be, whether it can be crossed or must be a wall without a gate.

So, if you have made the decision that the healthiest thing for you is to eliminate or contain the exposure you have with a toxic parent, family member, or friend, I want to applaud you for knowing what you need and standing up for it. If you haven't been able to create a healthy boundary and still feel wiped out, knocked down, or walked all over by someone, I encourage you to take small steps to create a healthy boundary. If I can do it, anyone can!


I hear a lot of people say "How do they let their parents live like that?" and as someone who spent a large portion of my childhood attempting to change my parent's household I am horribly offended by this. Not cleaning their house or loaning them money is the only way I can take care of me, and I have to make myself and my partner my priority.
Ceci G. said…
Katrina--That is exactly what upset me. Society lacks boundaries as a whole. We're a whole brood of controllers and manipulators. I find myself falling into this bad habit sometimes still. But I work so hard to identify where my role and responsibility is and then walk away if it's not my job to change the issue. It goes back to the Serenity Prayer--serenity with what we can't/shouldn't change, courage to change what we should, and the WISDOM to know the difference.

For years I wanted my mother to change, but it isn't my job to fix her. And if our relationship is abusive (which it no longer is, thanks to boundaries and healing!), I have the right and responsibility to keep me safe and healthy. She has to make her own choices.

Now, if I had filled her home with those things and then walked away...that would be another story.

BTW...where are these people attacking the children of hoarders when it comes to the children of alcoholics who walk away??? I'd love to know if they blame them for their parents' alcoholism as well :)

Thanks for commenting! I really appreciate it!
"where are these people attacking the children of hoarders when it comes to the children of alcoholics who walk away???" Great point!!!

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