If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I have struggled with boundaries – setting and keeping them – and that I have done a ton of personal work to be able to utilize them in my life. In general, it feels empowering to stand in solidarity with myself. There are instances, though, where people I’ve cared about have not been comfortable with my choice to use boundaries. In my experience, I’ve found that when setting personal boundaries, there are two types of people: type one accepts and respects your boundaries, and type two throws fits and accuses you of holding grudges.
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines a grudge as “a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.” Personal boundaries, on the other hand, are lines we draw for ourselves that keep us feeling safe and comfortable around others.
There is a HUGE difference here.
I will freely admit that I have set boundaries in my life with respect to people who have wounded me deeply, particularly those whose presence in my life really doesn’t matter. I do NOT, however, persistently wish them ill or resent them. They made the choices they made, and they have to live with the consequences of those choices. Any illusion that I spend time sending anyone ill will is ridiculous. Who has time for that? My boundaries are for me. They keep me sane and safe. They have nothing to do with anyone else.
I have also realized that honoring other people’s boundaries – even when it feels unreasonable to me – is a necessary part of life. It’s a part of being compassionate and understanding and loving. If someone tells me I hurt them, I need to acknowledge it, apologize, and change my behavior if they give me that opportunity. If their boundary is that they no longer want me in their life, I need to honor that and walk away. Sometimes boundaries hurt like hell. But they are not grudges.
The irony that I’m spending my time writing about this is not lost on me. I guess, in my defense, I am a recovering co-dependent and people-pleaser, so if anyone suggests my boundaries are about anything other than myself, I feel the need to address it. Also, my writing helps me process and let go. It’s another safety valve that I use to keep myself sane.
The saddest thing to me is having to set boundaries with people I love or have loved. I generally wear my heart on my sleeve and want nothing but to be a positive part of anyone’s life that I touch. I’ve learned, though, that doing that isn’t always safe. I’ve learned that boundaries – not grudges – are an essential tool for my mental health.
If that bothers you, that’s your choice. I’ll be over here sending you peace and compassion from the other side of my boundary.