Before we begin The Boundaries of Divorce: Be True To You…let’s tend to those pesky question marks. I’m pondering what the message is within. As I do that, I’m being told by support that there is no secret decoder ring programmed to Venus necessary to solve this riddle. Simply stated, the database is screwed up. It has something to do with Swedish and Latin, and that, kittens, is exactly where I check out. I’m told someone will hold me by the hand tomorrow and we will exorcise those pesky post haste.
Thank you, love you, thank you for the comments, support, guidance, laughs, hugs and amazing word-of-mouth. And thank you to Lainey Gossip and Cosmo’s Cocktails with Patrick for sharing me with their amazing audiences. As I go to sleep tonight I will ask for all your desires to be met, all your dreams to come true, and for you to all love yourself so deeply that love from anyone else is icing. It is because of you that I have come so far so fast. I’m going to keep at it and I hope that you will be with me every step of the way. We’ll find out where it leads together.
As Ricky once said to Lucy, “Lucy, you have some splainin’ to do.” So do I. Why did I allow this to happen to me? Why did I enable it? Why didn’t I stand up for myself and my needs four years ago? Or sooner? Why did I not require respect and ask for it in a productive way instead of in the midst of the searing heat of an argument?
Last Sunday I kept my commitment to hike from Stinson Beach to the top of Mt. Tamalpais and back, 18 miles round trip, despite having what I considered to be a fairly bitchy head cold. As I was driving to the beach my teeth started to throb. Super. I kept psyching myself up though. I was flame on a mission.
This is exactly what I need to cure me of this cold…
By mile 9 I thought my teeth were going to fire like bullets from my mouth, taking out the cute couple in front of me on a leisurely hike, holding hands. Down they’d go in a spray of enamel. Mine. And I still had 9 to go.
Monday morning I couldn’t get out of bed. But I did. My aim to start the week off with a hot breakfast for the boys got sidelined as I squinted at my kitchen, literally not understanding what I was supposed to be doing in there, except dispose of the 50-odd tissues I used during the night. Night being from about 2AM when I finally mouth-breathed myself into a scattered sleep to 6:30AM when I choked myself awake. Awesome night’s sleep.
The hike had not exactly cured my cold, but rather morphed it into a full-blown sinus infection that was in the prime of its life. There was no way I could take care of the boys when they returned from school. I called The Genius.
I think he understood the words sick, can’t breath, boys, need sleep. He didn’t hesitate.
“I’ll pick up the boys and take care of them through the night if you need it.”
I did. I crawled under the covers (sheet, blanket, down comforter, comforter, throw) in sweats, a tank top, a long sleeved shirt and a sweater that was 2 inches thick. I almost kept my slippers on. It was 55 degrees out. I was overcome by the level of pain those two little sacs could send raging over my whole body. I was completely exhausted.
During my hike on Mt. Tam I had opened some doors to rooms inside me that I thought held the answers to those questions above. As I lay in bed I thought about those doors, trying to see what was inside. Each had the same nameplate: Boundaries. I opened door after door. Every room was empty. Apparently I had no boundaries. Or if I did they were loosely constructed and easily pushed around, so they hid in the closet when I came knocking.
It occurred to me then that I really didn’t know what constituted a boundary.
I understood what a healthy physical boundary looked like (don’t threaten, hit, abuse etc.) but I couldn’t quite get a picture of healthy emotional boundaries.
You can’t tell someone not to break your heart, or betray you, or lie. All you can do is have a consequence in the event it happens. You can state it right in the beginning, but it’s not a prophylactic. When I told The Genius I would leave him if he ever cheated on me he said, “That’s sexy.” Guess he wanted to see sexy.
I came to realize, while I was bundled up in bed like Nanook of the North, that it wasn’t enough for me to simply state that I wouldn’t accept being hurt, or disrespected, or taken for granted – I had to enforce it. Not just with The Genius but with myself too. I didn’t. I look back on so many times when I thought I was being the cool wife to let certain things slide, but instead I was being a pushover which led to me resenting The Genius, which led me to building walls, not healthy boundaries.
I got angry at The Genius because I wasn’t taking care of myself. I couldn’t/shouldn’t/can’t control his actions but I could have been crystal freaking clear about my response. I wasn’t. I let myself down. I didn’t speak up for myself. And that’s the antithesis of self-care.
I needed to take The Genius by the hand and say, “I am not comfortable with the following aspects of our relationship. I want to talk about how we can work through these issues and make certain that we’re clear about what we expect of each other.” Those might have been some difficult conversations but it would have changed the dynamic between us. Where that might have led isn’t the issue. The fact that for so many years I didn’t take steps to care for myself is.
And here I lay, nose sealed shut, wrapped like a burrito, in bed during the day for the first time in years. While my soon-to-be former husband plays Uno with the boys, makes dinner, and keeps them quiet during their baths so I can sleep until I wake.
Even with the sinus agony I feel more balanced than ever before. My physical body needed rest and I asked for help so I could give it what it needed. Believe me, for about two hours I struggled with calling The Genius and asking for help. It’s not something I do readily.
In last week’s Couples Counseling Works…It Does! session I took care of a need by expressing my hurt and anger. I didn’t close my mouth (If I had I would have died – remember, not a nostril was on duty that day.) and hand over the microphone, stubbornly withholding what I wanted to say with a nevermind stare. Instead, I calmly stated how he made me feel and that I wasn’t going to allow him to continue to do things that were hurtful or disrespectful. That his presence in my world was uncomfortable for me and I wanted to limit it as much as possible without taking away any time he spends with the boys. And that he needed to take full responsibility for where we were right then and there because it was his affair that brought us there and nothing else.
Basically, I stood up for myself. I was able to because I knew exactly what I needed for me to feel whole. I knew what a few of my brand new, shiny, rock-solid boundaries were and I erected them. They were designed to take care of me, and by taking care of myself I was demonstrating to the world that I was worthy of being taken care of and treated with respect.
Seems so simple to do, right? Just say what you need and be done with it. Pisses me off when stuff seems so simple but is so darn hard to make happen. Maybe because we don’t believe. Well, I’m on the mend and I’m a believer. Boundaries Work!. I need more of them. But to create boundaries I first have to decide what it is that I need. When I decide what I need and what I want the boundaries will nearly build themselves…um, right?
I know this: When I’m ready to build boundaries it’s because I will finally know WHO I really am. And that my friends is my personal Holy Grail. I’m on a mission…