The Need for Boundaries part 1: The Slippery Slope

I was really nervous when I first mentioned the idea of staying home to my beloved RJ.  I was talking to him on the phone as I drove home from my job as an administrative assistant when I threw caution into the wind and brought it up.  We’d only been married for 3 years and it was still just the two of us and I knew the idea of unnecessarily living off of one income sounded ridiculous.   I still consider it a blessing and a mark of his character, that he responded with thoughtfulness as opposed to disbelief.  As we contemplated plans for our upcoming move and his first “real” job we knew we’d be strapped with a house payment and probably a car payment (unless I walked everywhere-which ended up being something of a reality for a while) and who knows what else.  But we had high hopes that our sweet blonde child would be on her way to us soon so we decided we didn’t have much to lose and I would test the homemaking waters.  We both liked the idea of one member of our household being “available” and as I filled my days with caring for our home and for RJ, I was grateful for the opportunities I had to offer time to other people as well.

As the months and then years wore on and there was no change in our family situation, I began to think that perhaps I needed to do more helping and maybe that would somehow heal the cavernous and deepening void in my soul.  I threw myself into service with a storied zeal and decided to try the Savior’s invitation to lose myself in His service.  I wondered if perhaps there was something I needed to learn or do or become that would somehow qualify me for this blessing I was so desperately seeking.

There was joy in the opportunity to bring relief to others and I realized that mothering takes many forms.  But like many mothers, I began to slide my needs further and further from my consciousness as I sought to respond to the beck and call of everyone else.   Eventually this started to wear on me, but because I am stubborn and have always been a big believer in faith, I determined that I simply needed to cultivate more faith in order to manage the increasing demands on my time, strength and emotions.  Eventually (and fortunately) this approach landed me in the aforementioned psychologist’s office, tired, disillusioned, resentful and really sad.  As I worked through the mountain of hard things I’d accumulated, the idea of personal boundaries kept resurfacing.  Apparently I didn’t have any.  Not even one to speak of.  I could do pretty well keeping boundaries other people set for me (religious, familial) but my boundary-setting skill-set was still sitting unopened, perfectly shrink-wrapped in a distant and forgotten corner of my brain.  Fortunately this wise woman seemed adept at assisting lost souls like mine and she began to help me see a few places where I could get to know and then reclaim myself so that I might more fully offer myself to others.   At this point, anxiety abounded and I was desperate for any help so I wasn’t about to turn up my nose  at her counter-intuitive advice.   And I felt like there was truth in her words so I had hope that somewhere along the way the ideas would align themselves with the promise the Savior offered. During the years that have followed, as I’ve gotten more comfortable with the idea of saying no sometimes, I can see the beginnings of a beautiful and different fulfillment of His promise.

More soon.

Love,

Lindsay

10 Comments on “The Need for Boundaries part 1: The Slippery Slope

  1. So i have been thinking about your comment above all night. It is so fortunate that you have found support through your RJ and seeking help through counseling to find your boundaries. We all have limitations due to being human even though our spirits are eager. I appreciate your reminder of the importance to balance. It is so sweet the blessings which come to us when we turn ourselves over to our Father in Heaven. I know I am not expressing all that is on my mind but I wanted to say thank you for the reminder, I am important just as those I take care or serve are important. Tami .

  2. Tami, I really appreciate your perspective. Thanks for taking the time to write some of your thoughts. I’ve been thinking about it boundaries and limits a lot lately and I’m just trying to piece together a few of things I think I know 🙂 and then I’m hoping I can learn more from all of you. I like the idea of our spirits being eager and our human nature being weak. I think that’s a beautiful way to think of it. So often I want to help or be or do and I simply can’t respond to all of the desires that I have to help. I’m learning how to decide which offerings to make and how to be ok with with whatever I choose to offer. I’m with you though, sometimes it’s so hard to remember the validity of my own situation/goals/needs/priorities in the midst of pressing needs of others. And you’re right, I am lucky to have RJ, that’s for sure.

  3. Pingback: The Need for Boundaries: Climbing out of Obligation | Extending Understanding

  4. I have been thinking about this post all week. I love your soul and your deep desire to care and seek out happiness and truth for yourself and others.

    One beautiful thing about seeing our limits…sometimes it allows us to more clearly see God’s greatness and power which are infinite and without limits. Sometimes when I’ve done what I can for a person and feel that I am just not enough for the situation, I try to turn that person over to God and trust that He is absolutely more than enough. Yes, we are God’s hands on this earth, but He has given us hands that can bruise, break, and fatigue.

    President Eyring’s words in the last Relief Society meeting about the Good Samaritan were really powerful to me. He talked about the idea of the Good Samaritan taking care of the injured man within his own mortal limits. The Good Samaritan, after performing remarkable service, left the man at the inn. He served and then left (obviously ensuring that he would continue to be cared for). The idea of serving and then leaving (for me this idea means not obsessing about the person’s well-being in a way that’s destructive to me and probably not very helpful to the person I care about) is something I’m trying to implement in my own life.

    I am SO grateful for your willingness to share things you’ve learned from your remarkable journey. xo

  5. Anne Marie, I REALLY appreciate these thoughts. Thanks for adding to my understanding of this principle in a very very real way.

  6. Pingback: The Need for Boundaries: A Graceful No? | Extending Understanding

  7. Pingback: When He can but doesn’t | Extending Understanding

  8. Pingback: The Need for Boundaries: Examples | Extending Understanding

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  10. Pingback: When you’re just not enough | Extending Understanding

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