Self Care: Part I – Setting Boundaries and Letting Go

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By: Jana Greene

*Sigh*

How convenient that I’m kicking off a blog series about Self Care when just the right inspiration presented itself, and made me consider one of the most important tenants of Self Care: Setting Boundaries and Letting Go.

As of late, I’ve been dealing with a situation in which a loved one whom I’ve constructed pretty high fortifications with is lobbing cannonballs at me in the Wonderful World of Social Media.

This person has not tried to contact me in five years. Not even once.

Letting go completely of one’s own family member seems like a cold-hearted thing to do to the casual observer, but I can promise you it’s heart wrenching. It takes years (and sometimes long periods of recovery) to gain the clarity of how very toxic a person is – a person who is supposed to love you.

Preceding any true rift are innumerable fights, a scorched earth battlefield where innumerable feelings went to die, and enough hurt to quite literally kill a person – if you don’t separate yourself from the drama.

I’ve decided that – instead of lobbing cannons over in response  – I’ve drafted:

The Healthy Person’s Guide to Surviving Emotional F*ckwittage and Manipulation –

A Bill of Rights


1. You have the right to estrangement if said toxic person repeatedly oversteps (or bulldozes) boundaries you’ve asked to be respected.

2. It is NOT HONORING someone to allow them to manipulate you.

2. If it’s all about them all the time, it’s not about you having a healthy relationship.

3. You have the right to guard your sobriety (or regular old peace of mind) with everything you’ve got, and if this means stepping away from toxic people because they make you want to use / drink / pull your hair out / jump off a bridge in order to just to DEAL with their drama, so be it.

4. You have the right to pray for the toxic person every single day. I recommend it. Seriously, pray that God will bless them in unimaginable ways and that he will heal both of your wounded hearts.

5. Once you’ve decided that it is in YOUR best interest (yeah, that’s right, YOU get to determine when that is!) to stay away from a toxic person, that is reason ENOUGH. A narcissist will never give you permission, so don’t wait around for it. It ain’t coming.

6. You don’t owe a DAMN thing to anyone. Not one explanation, not one excuse. ONLY YOU know the particulars that left your heart in shards.You’ve been hurt, and it ain’t nobody’s business what/when/where/why you have severed the relationship.

Don’t let others weigh in on your self-care.

Don’t let others weigh in on your self-care.

Don’t let others weigh in on your self-care.

(S0 important, I said it thrice)

I used to worry that everyone would think I was a horrible person for protecting my boundaries. Now I no longer care. I’m not a horrible person, just someone who has learned in the most painful way possible NOT to trust someone.

7. A narcissist will ALWAYS have somebody to blame for every circumstance, relationship, or non-relationship in their lives. It is usually the one person that they are trying to destroy with their manipulations. If they had to own a single shred of responsibility, they are afraid of losing their Victim Card. This entitlement card allows the bearer to run ramshackle over the feelings of others in order to receive constant validation. It also makes it damn near impossible for you to look like any thing but a villain.

Because, as aforementioned, it’s all about them.

8. Setting boundaries, even estrangements, does not mean you stop loving that person. Oh how much easier it would be if that were the case! But love goes so many layers deep in the sediment of relationships. You will ALWAYS love this person – even if they are really bad for you. Who knows? God can do all things, including restoring relationships. But when a person has spent a lifetime cultivating an inability to own any of his / her behaviors, it may be on the other side of the Kindgom before true healing takes place.

Your feelings matter.

Your boundaries are there for a reason.

Your self care is tantamount.

 

 

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Manipulation Liberation

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By: Jana Greene

“If you  are an approval addict, your behaviour is as easy to control as that of any other junkie. All a manipulator need do is a simple two-step process: Give you what you crave, and then threaten to take it away. Every drug dealer in the world plays this game.”

– Harriet B. Braiker, Who’s Pulling Your Strings?

The first time I read the quote above, I understood it in the context of an addict.   As an active alcoholic, I drank in order to feel a certain way, which pleased my mind and body.  My spirit, however, recognized alcohol as a toxic substance and understood that it simply had to go.  I craved what would have eventually killed me, had I not surrendered to God completely on a cold January morning in 2001.  The two-step process of behavior control – I get it.

But as I re-read it, I considered it as it applies to addiction to the approval of others.  There are people in my life with whom I have had to construct boundaries in order to survive sane and sober.  Quite literally, after eleven years of active recovery, there are people who still make me want to drink to oblivion.  Complicating the issue is that some of these people are family; human beings tethered to me by DNA and some very dysfunctional patterns.  Sadly, some of these relationships have ended in estrangement.

I really struggle with that.  I know that , I am protecting my sobriety by limiting contact with some people.  I am protecting the little girl who was not protected growing up.  That child within me is at peace with avoiding such persons.  But ironically, it is that child within me who also longs to be nurtured.  Safe. Cherished.  And who seeks out those things.

I struggle with it because it is a tragedy to lose relationships, but when people who love you use your weaknesses against you, the environment becomes unsafe.

For years, like a good junkie, I would return for another fix for the fleeting sensation of being loved by certain others, forgetting the sickness and drama that would be left in the wake.  I was given what I craved, and it was t threatened to be taken away.  And then it would be taken;  boundaries demolished, the rubble having to be cleared away before another could be built.

So today, I just don’t take the “drug”.  People are always and forever telling us who they are, but you have to pay attention to what they are.  If manipulation came with a warning label, it wouldn’t be manipulation.  That’s  the sneaky thing about it, the game every drug dealer in the world knows.

Like the lyrics to a great song (All the Same) by the band, Sick Puppies:

I don’t care,

no I wouldn’t dare to fix the twist in you.

You’ve shown me eventually what you’ll do.

(To watch the Free Hug video on Youtube,  accompanied by “Twist” by Sick Puppies, CLICK HERE.)

I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and He never estranged anyone.  He ran toward the most dysfunctional people on earth.   He is forgiveness incarnate, grace I don’t deserve and mercy I cannot comprehend.

There is absolutely no possibility that you could mistake me for Jesus.  I am as imperfect as they come.

But I pray that He understands the reasons for my boundaries.  I pray that He will help me heal from the trauma in my childhood and the tragedy that is a splintered family unit; that He will keep me sane and sober, and protected.

Simply put, the twist is not mine to fix.  It is His.