tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

  • Music:

Don't poke the squishy, you'll harsh my mellow, dude.

This morning I walked around the waterfront to work, for a change. The sun was out, the harbour fountain was going, everything was sparkly:

And there were some "Save Happy Valley" people handing out pamphlets. I finally found out what they are saving Happy Valley from. The funny part is it isn't even our Happy Valley (have you noticed how many Happy Valleys there are here?). It's one on the west coast of the South Island, that's apparently lined up to be turned into an open cast coal mine. My guess is that if the SHV folks can delay it long enough, coal will become close to obsolete (Happy?) and they might just get a win.

Grumpy email from the ex this morning, but the stuff is in the mail. Me: "Lalalalalalalaaaa" *delete* "Oh look, shiny thing!"


One of the things about stating or reinforcement of boundaries that I wasn't expecting, is the odd responses. It's almost like a drafting gate for people.

In the past I've been quite a 'cooperative' person. Translation - so desperate for the approval of others that I'd put myself through burning hoops of napalm rather than say or do anything that might upset them. This, I know, is from the parental training trick that goes "Be pleasant and nice or we will ignore you and be angry." You know the one - the way parents demonstrate to their kids that 'bad' emotions are unacceptable by exaggerating the consequences in terms of reaction. So - grumpy kid gets ignored, no hugs, no affection, until apology is made for behaviour, and attitude changes. Then everything is fine again. Neato!

Except from the kid's point of view, what they learn is that if they have these 'bad' emotions, their parents stop loving them. And only love them again when they've become pliable, cooperative and easy to get along with. End result - a person who will do anything to avoid upsetting or angering others, because upsetting and angering others means NOBODY WILL LOVE YOU EVER! For me, this means that knowing I've said/done something that upsets someone, gives me this overwhelming urge to 'make it all better' - where values of 'make it all better' include allowing my boundaries to be ignored, devaluing my own opinions/feelings on a subject, and generally cutting people slack where I wouldn't cut myself any.

This has led to some pretty heinous situations for me, which I won't bore you with.

Anyway, no more. 'Here is my line, please don't cross it' is my new catchphrase. And yes, if someone's nudging a boundary and I'm uncomfortable about it, I'll say something. It's about self-respect, self-love, all the buzzwords. Thing is, doing it straight away, before it becomes a problem, means I'm more likely to say it calmly, clearly and in as non-confrontational a way as possible.

What I've found, though, is that while a lot of people go "Fair enough" there are others who take offence at it, and assume I must be really upset to say "Hey, I don't like this, please don't do it" (this could possibly be from their own parental training) - and treat me the same way the parents used to - withdrawal of affection or approval. And these are the ones that push all my buttons, and I have to struggle the hardest not to cave in and go "Oh, I didn't mean it, yeah it was just me being grumpy, sorry I upset you, I eat my words, my boundaries don't matter, etc etc."

I suspect that as time goes by, if I stick to my guns, there will be less of this in my life, by a natural filtration process. But I can see that it's going to require more effort and internal fortitude than just saying it. Coping with the repercussions is something I didn't foresee, and it upsets my equilibrium a little.

In the case of yesterday, it wasn't a biggie. My discomfort at the idea of seeing this guy caused me to go "I don't want to see you", which triggered a negative response, which I deleted. Still there's a small desire to apologise and go "Oh no, I'll meet you for coffee, sure." But I won't. That would be undermining myself for a start, and secondly I really don't want to see him. And by tomorrow I will have forgotten.

Other situations, that I care more about, are harder to deal with. But again, I keep telling myself - if you state your boundaries clearly, politely and firmly, you're showing respect for yourself and the other person. How are you showing respect for the other person? Well, if you say nothing and let them bulldoze ahead through your squishy bits, eventually resentment will build to a blowup, and they will have no idea why you're so upset, and they'll feel really bad. If you let them know where the line is, they are then operating with the information they need to avoid a blow-up. Giving someone information that allows them to choose for themself, means respect. If the other person has a problem with it, and accuses you of being temperamental, selfish, all the other things your folks taught you were 'bad' and led to disapproval.. is their reaction your issue to deal with?

However, I guess that expecting people who've known me in the past, and known how upset I have had to be before I'd say anything confrontational, to suddenly alter their view, is a little unfair. It'll take a while for people to get used to. So I think, along with my little self-speech to reassure myself that it really is ok to state my boundaries, I should maybe add "And it's ok for people to react badly to that to start with, because it's been sprung on them suddenly. They'll get used to it, realise I'm not angry when I do it, and we'll have a better relationship because of it."

Yeah, I need that kind of reassurance, because not everyone goes "Good on you!" all the time.

Maybe, when I take over the world, I'll make "Good on you!" the compulsory reply to any sentence starting with "I"..
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