A friend is dealing with this issue of boundary violations and forgiveness. His relationship with his partner has been one-sided for years. I won’t diagnose her but I will say that it is mostly a relationship about her. I’m not making a comment on whether this is good or bad — every relationship is different – I’m just stating a fact.
When she hurts him (and it happens quite often) instead of setting up boundaries for what he’ll allow to happen and remain in the relationship, he often relaxes his boundaries, forgives her and then is mad at himself when she violates his boundaries again (and she does, again and again).
So, these last few months we’ve been trying an experiment. When he relaxes his boundaries – it’s when he’s feeling bad about himself, and it causes him more stress. And, he doesn’t really feel forgiveness (even though he tells her he forgives her). When he choses to have a boundary and reinforces it – she often doesn’t listen to him or change, but he feels better about himself.
Here’s the thing about asserting boundaries and forgiveness – you can do both but sometimes people will just leave your life (or you will jettison them). Some people (read: narcissists) can’t handle having limits on how they treat people. They don’t see that their treatment is a total lack of respect for others while only taking care of their own needs. That’s not a relationship for life.
Yet, with healthy people (read: non-narcissist) setting boundaries will make a relationship stronger and better. It provides each person with an understanding of what hurts the other and what doesn’t. And, if there’s love and respect – boundaries won’t continue to be violated (not intentionally anyway).
The trick with asserting boundaries is not to do it in anger (that defeats the purpose and adds negative energy). Setting boundaries should be matter of fact.
I’m trying it right now. I’ve been giving a lot of energy to help someone. This person has just taken and taken and given nothing. This person wants me to keep helping but the treatment of me is violating my boundaries. So, I’ve decided to stop helping (which as you know is difficult for me!). And, as contrary as that is to my being – it’s also freeing! Boundary-less people are energy suckers and I’d rather give my energy to a loving situation.
Forgiveness is important. But, it doesn’t mean you allow people to hurt you. It means you understand that the other person is doing the best they can do with the resources, skills and life experiences they have but that their skills in life are hurting you. And, if they don’t want to see the effect on you, then you must set your boundaries and take care of you – which often means leaving. It’s finding a place in your heart for compassion for them and, more importantly, for you.
I never said this would be an easy journey … just an enlightening one! 🙂
Enjoy your beautiful weekend!