One of the most vital ways to practice self care is setting boundaries. For me this is also extremely difficult. I am fantastic at encouraging others and supporting them in standing up for themselves… but when it comes time for me to show up for myself in the same way, I feel like I am free falling, and I am terrified of heights. I hate rocking the boat. I hate having difficult conversations that will surly upset others. That’s not to say that I have never done it. When it comes to standing up for my husband or my children, the world better hold onto their hat. I have no problem throwing myself into the fire for them, however, when it is for myself, I am afraid to fan even the smallest ember that might burn someone else.
Recently I had to say no to a simple task someone asked me to do. For a normal, healthy person this task was all of two minutes and is seemingly very easy. For me, in the midst of an attack, having just taken my meds and feeling miserable, I knew that the “simple task” being asked of me would only make my pain worse, leave me dizzy and I just couldn’t do it. I said, “No, I am not going to do that right now, I don’t feel good.” The reaction I got was hurtful. There were no words spoken, just as seething silence and stomping off to do the task on their own. The lack of compassion was shocking and left me hurt, angry and sick to my stomach. To this day I still have not addressed the issue (or any others that have come up) because it is so hard for me to take that jump off the cliff to stand up for myself and set boundaries.
Last year when I learned about the enneagram test, it was unsurprising to learn that I am a Type 2 “the helper.” People-pleasing is one of the key traits to describe a 2, and although I knew this about myself I have never really put the label on it. I DO want to please people. I want to help others and show them love and kindness. I want others to love me and appreciate what I bring to the table – and when that does not happen it leaves me feeling totally crushed. The basic fear for a 2 is being unworthy of love or being unwanted. It doesn’t matter what the relationship is, parent, friendship, spouse… I want to feel like I am needed, appreciated and loved. To do so, I often have an unhealthy side of my Type 2 push through, sacrificing my own needs to put others first no matter what. The more I reflect on this truth, I see the damage I am doing to myself.
I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea or bucket of sunshine. I am not responsible for other’s feelings towards me. If someone is putting pressure on me to do things I know I cannot handle, not only is it unrealistic, but it is incredibly unfair. Boundaries are necessary and when you speak up for yourself, the push back is from the other person’s insecurities. I do not need to sacrifice myself to satisfy others. Having someone push me, minimize my pain and chronic illness and make me feel guilty for standing up for myself is wrong. Setting a boundary is for myself, my health and my family. It is telling others what I am willing to tolerate and how I expect to be treated. I can still be a very kind, loving, helpful person that also stands up for myself. I can show grace to others, but I also need to pour grace into myself.
It is hard to heal pieces of yourself when you lean into the lies that you are unworthy and unlovable for standing up for yourself. Others will push back and make you believe that the boundaries you are establishing are wrong or selfish, that by saying no and not helping every time you are asked, you are being disrespectful. That is simply not true. I am telling you – and I am telling myself – that our worth is not tied to the tasks we check off a list for others. Yes, we should love and serve others, but we need to do it in a healthy way that also respects our own needs. I am proud to be a “helper” and I am learning that I can still be myself without people pleasing my way through life.