Reading the book, Boundaries. By Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.
I’m going through the book “Boundaries” in our ladies bible study and learning so much….It helps me to work through my thoughts if I write them down, otherwise I go down rabbit trails and don’t finish my thoughts. Here is my thought process as going through Boundaries”.
Notes on chapter 4
I went from living with parents, their rules, their plan, to the Coast Guard who dictated every aspect of my life, (where I live, what I do, what I wear, what I eat and when). It’s easy to function in life when all decisions are made for you, but there’s something inside of us that wants a little freedom to make choices for ourselves. Oh I know, I signed up for the Coast Guard…that WAS my decision. A little autonomy came into my life when the Coast Guard transferred me to Port Chicago, Ca. I got my own apartment, I bought a car, and for the first time I had to feed myself. I didn’t even know how to grocery shop or cook a meal other than Roni-Reeno’s. (recipe to follow) I didn’t know how to budget or pay bills or plan meals. I was there for 1 year. I loved my life there even though it was full of learning opportunities. Then I married John. John was in Washington DC area, where we first met. Being married I was now back into a situation where my life was dictated by another. That was fine with me then, I didn’t have to be accountable for my decisions…because I didn’t make any! Well, not making decisions and not speaking up for yourself IS a decision. I chose to let other peoples interests and wants and desires win out over my own. I did eventually feel like I didn’t even know who I was. I had lost myself. I changed how I thought and believed and felt and acted to fit into the situation I was in. I had changed everything about me. I was a chameleon. Where do you want to eat? I don’t care, where do you want to eat? If I did express an opinion I was told why my opinion was wrong. I learned to shut up and just agree. Shutting up wasn’t good enough, he would drone on for hours if I didn’t agree.
I wonder if aggressively over-controlling types are attracted to those of us who don’t have well established boundaries, and maybe even vice-versa. Looking with hind-sight over all of my relationships (total of 4) I would classify them as aggressively over-controlling and me as having no boundaries. My over used phrase would be, “I agree”. It’s easier to follow someone with a human voice than to hear the voice of God.
What caused me to wake up? When our adopted college students pulled me aside and asked me why do I allow John to treat me that way and treat the kids that way? I had to pull my head out of the sand. I am accountable for my life and for the protection of my kids. I am responsible for my own walk with God. I was responsible even though I was married. I wish I had heard better preaching on what it means to be a Godly, submissive wife.
If I had expressed myself better I think I could have saved my marriage. Instead I kept quiet until I couldn’t take it anymore and the only thing I knew was to get a divorce. In my mind at the time I thought I had to get out from under the control of my husband in order to have any control over my own life. Was there another way? Yes, have “me” boundaries. Own my own thoughts, dreams, and desires and don’t apologize for them or neglect them. I was fearful of making mistakes and wanted to be able to blame others if things went wrong. I also was fearful of losing the other person if they didn’t agree with me. People pleasing is a Godly characteristic gone too far. We all want and need fellowship or companionship, even God does. He created us to enjoy fellowship with Him. God went to extreme lengths to bring us back into fellowship with him, but He doesn’t push himself on us. Loving and wanting to be loved is good, but changing who you are to win someone’s love is not.
In my mind, marriage and enmeshment looked the same. What’s the difference? You give all of your worldly possessions, you give 100% of yourself to your spouse. In a healthy relationship both partners do this. In a healthy relationship we respect and encourage our partners relationship with God, with family members, and quality friends. No one should keep you to themselves.
Consider your relationship with God…He says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock, whoever opens the door, I will come in with him and sup with him and he with me” (Rev 3:20) God is a gentleman, He doesn’t force himself into our lives. He gave us free will to choose.
pg 79 in Boundaries..the term “Pliably enmeshed” is used. Pliable means Easily influenced. Ross Rosenberg, an expert in the field of co-dependency writes…
co-dependents depend upon each other to fulfill their emotional needs to make them feel good, whole or healthy, but they do it in a way that sacrifices psychological health. In other words, their self concept is defined by the other person and they lose their individuality to get their needs met.
Signs of an enmeshed relationship:
*neglect other relationships
*your happiness relies on THE relationship
*your self esteem is contingent upon it
*when there’s conflict in your relationship you feel extreme anxiety or fear or a compulsion to fix the problem.
*lonely when not around this person
*symbiotic-if they’re anxious, angry or depressed you are too.
It is healthy to foster fulfilling relationships but don’t let them define who you are.
In myself I strongly recognize that I have been pliable and I enmeshed myself to others who would control me, but then I resented them for doing that. I also ended up being disgusted with myself for allowing this to happen. Then I ended the relationship because I felt like a non-person.
Setting boundaries like having my own home, setting a budget, keeping a calendar helps me to be in control of me. What I want to accomplish. It helps me to say yes to good things and no to bad things. Emotionally I feel safe but that’s because I’m not in a relationship.
Society’s concept of “love” is skewed too. The love songs from my generation encourage this unhealthy enmeshment too. “How do I live without you”…by Leann Rhimes..”You know I can’t live without you” by Barry Manilow, “I’ll be watching you” by Sting. I laugh now but back in the day I sang them whole heartedly. Be careful what you wish for. Don’t be so in love with the idea of being in love that you risk losing your person-hood.
My path right now is a good one. I’m in right relationship with God and my family. I have a wonderful church and enjoy the ladies bible study group. I have a couple of dear Christian friends. I am looking to Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of my life. He is perfecting that which concerns me and He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.
I’m learning what good boundaries look like. I can say, “No” and not fear losing the other.