I grew up in a loving home, yet full of codependent behaviors. I naturally grew into a budding codependent at a very young age. Because of this, many of my friendships, romantic relationships, and family relationships were based on codependent behaviors. (By the way, if you have no idea what codependency is, check it out in our search engine and gain a lot of knowledge about it!) In my early 20's, I started learning more about the world as I branched out on my own. Unfortunately, my knowledge grew about unhealthy relationships but my behaviors stayed the same. It wasn't until my late 20's that I started shedding the codependent relationships in my life. I had to start setting a lot of boundaries with people who were used to treating me the way I had taught them to treat me, which unfortunately wasn't very good. I started having a voice and stating my needs. That didn't go over very well. I started saying things like, "If you don't stop yelling at me, I'm going to hang up the phone."
This changed my relationships drastically. I learned the hard lesson that unfortunately no matter how much you state your needs with some people, or how often you ask them to respect you, some people are not capable. They aren't bad people, they just aren't capable. Then I had to start making the hard decision of creating boundaries for myself, without sharing them with these people because they weren't safe and were incapable of getting it anyway.
Clients ask me all the time, "How do you have boundaries with someone in your family that you still have to be around? What if they don't get it and don't understand what you are needing?"
First, I had to lower my expectations of them and come to reality of what they are capable of doing.
Second, I had to decide what was safe for me. For example, I don't spend any individual time with these people. Honestly, it takes and wastes too much energy. However, I do choose to be around them in our larger family circle. I am cordial and respectful but don't engage in anything vulnerable with them because they are not safe.
Third, I never allow my children to be alone with them. I don't trust what they will say to them and I don't want them to be hurt in the verbal ways I have been.
Fourth, I don't engage in their drama. If they start talking about their drama-based life, I simply leave the room or focus on something else. Again, not worth my energy or time to focus on it.
Those are just examples of ways I've set personal boundaries with myself, with someone who is unsafe. It sounds really complicating. Honestly, it can be. That's why I'm not ashamed to have had professionals help me to decide these boundaries. It's always good to get an objective opinion.
Tomorrow, Joleen will share another personal story. Thank you for spending some time with us today. Have a great week!
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville