Thursday, May 2, 2013

Boundaries...

Despite my resolve to stay away from RfM, I happened to run across an interesting post by a guy who reminded others that they are adults who need to have and enforce boundaries against pushy adults.  This isn't just an issue that affects people who have grown up in religious families; it's an issue that affects anyone who has been taught to be too nice.  My husband was not raised in a particularly religious home, but both he and his mother, and maybe to a lesser extent, his father, are now or have been way too "nice" for their own good.  The end result is that pushy, abusive people have the opportunity to steamroll them.

My mother has always been pretty respectful of my boundaries.  Since I've been on my own, she mostly doesn't get too pushy, with a few exceptions.  My dad, on the other hand, used to get pushy with me over things that weren't really his concern.  I remember back in 2007, my husband was in Iraq and I was at home, preparing for our move to Germany.  My dad called me.  I don't remember why.  I remember our conversation became uncomfortable when he started nagging me about getting a job.

At the time, we were about six months from moving overseas and I had spent quite some time searching fruitlessly for work.  Prior to that phone call, my husband had told me to quit searching because it was stressing me out and we were going to be moving anyway.  So I took my resume off Monster and stopped attending job interviews.

My dad was apparently troubled about this development, though he never actually asked me why I quit searching.  During that phone call, my dad asked me if I'd thought about looking for a job while my husband was away.  Then, before I could answer, he made some comment about how he thought I was "depressed" and needed to get help for my "problems".  This, coming from a raging alcoholic who has his own issues with depression that he's not really dealt with and sadly never will.  

I was just speechless as I listened to my dad speak to me.  At that point, I had been married a few years and was well into my 30s.  

When I finally gathered my wits, I said, "You know what?  My employment status is none of your business, Dad.  I'm a grown, married woman and how I spend my time is between me and Bill."  I was actually pretty pissed off about it.  My dad, to his credit, handled it better than I expected him to.  He seemed kind of embarrassed and admitted it was none of his business.  For my part, once I calmed down, I was actually feeling pretty exhilarated.  I had established a boundary and enforced it.    

Unfortunately, about a year later, my dad had back surgery.  He'd been drinking a lot before the surgery and did not react well to the anesthesia.  He ended up in a coma for a couple of months.  Now he has lewy-body dementia and uses a wheelchair.  He's 80 years old and my mom thinks he'll outlive her.

I have sisters who had to be taught boundaries too.  I'm the youngest and they used to take care of me, which I think makes them believe they have the right to be disrespectful.  They have gotten better, though, and it was mainly because I pushed back when they pushed me.  It wasn't the end of the world, even though it did result in some temporary unpleasantness.  

Moving on, today I read an interesting article about how the media has been shaming pregnant Kim Kardashian for being too "fat".  I will admit, she does appear to have gained a lot of weight.  But a lot of pregnant women gain weight.  Granted, Kim Kardashian is a public figure, and she is carrying Kanye West's baby.  But seriously, folks...  Her body is her business.  Moreover, people who claim to be concerned about her health have no way of knowing what her health status actually is.

The same article compares Kim to Kate Middleton, who is adorably and inoffensively pregnant and only now showing two months before her due date.  I like Kate Middleton as much as the next person, but I almost wonder if she poops or passes gas.  I mean, I know she must, but she's just the epitome of class.  That must be a heavy burden for her, because everyone admires her right now.  If and when she makes a misstep, the press is likely to turn on her.

I don't think we need more coverage of Kim Kardashian and her pregnancy (which seems to be going on forever), but I do like the fact that the person who wrote the sympathetic article about her image problems recognizes that the public can be very fickle and downright mean.  For all the material blessings these two women have, I wonder if it's worth all the privacy they give up. 
 
I think once you have kids, people think they have the right to make comments anyway.  It's like your kids erase your boundaries and people are way too free with their input.    

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