Posted by: Marie | June 20, 2012

(652) Men providing shelter – Part 3 of 5

Post #652
[Private journal entry written on Friday, July 8, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]

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Me: So . . .do you have any suggestions on how I can maintain that boundary in this situation with my cousins?

Edward: Sure . . .

I think the easiest way to set that boundary is to not talk about your beliefs. What you believe is none of their business and you have no obligation to share your beliefs with them.

After you’ve had significant opportunity to determine that they can be trusted to respect your beliefs, you could share with them if you care to.

Before the Storm by Martin Chen

Me: I can see where that would be a good plan . . .

However, the dogma of their church – and of the church in which I grew up – teaches that Christians have a right – really, an obligation – to confront people about their relationship with God and the state of their “salvation”. The church teaches people to ignore boundaries such as the one you are talking about – because the church teaches that eternal life is more important than relationships on earth.

My cousins may likely see my asking to spend time at their home as the perfect opening to confront me about the state of my “salvation”. When I’m in their home, they may believe they have more right to confront me than I have to maintain my privacy on the matter.

I know a lot of other people in the church – in my family – feel that way. I’m not sure to what extent my cousins feel that way.

And, you know what . . . I actually don’t have much of a problem with them bringing up the issue in a gentle matter . . . as long as I have an effective, kind way to say, “We’re not going there” and as long as they respect that boundary once I set it.

So, I guess I have two questions . . .

How do I set an effective boundary? And, how do I handle it if they don’t respect that boundary?

If they do try to ignore or push the boundary once I set it, I’d like to know how to respond in a way that can preserve the relationship, if possible. If they do happen to ignore or push the boundary to some extent, I don’t want to respond immaturely . . .

I don’t want to freeze up in my “little girl” place, or say hurtful things or run out the door in hysterics . . . I’d rather learn how to enforce my boundary while still maintaining my adult voice and maintaining the relationship, if possible.

Obviously, if they push the boundary too much, that means they don’t respect me, which would cause me to not want a relationship with them.

But, I don’t think they would push the boundary too much. My gut tells me they won’t push very much . . . maybe not at all. But, there is a good chance they might push it a little bit. I’d like to know a good way to handle that while still keeping the relationship intact.

Can you help me with knowing how to do that? Whew . . . I feel like I’m talking in circles again . . . do you understand what I’m asking?

Edward: I do understand what you are asking. You are doing a great job of explaining it!

A powerful response could be something like, “My purpose in coming here this weekend is to learn about the two of you and your relationship. Discussing my relationship with God does not support that intention – so, let’s move the discussion back to you.”

(That response didn’t feel applicable to me, but I didn’t know why not – I needed to think about it some more on my own. So, I didn’t say anything else except, “Hmmmm . . . okay.” Then, I changed the subject.)

Me: Anyway, it was a fun trip . . . and somewhat of an emotional one for both me and my mom.

Edward: Emotional in what way?

Me: I guess more that my mom was emotional, which brought up emotions in me. I’m not used to seeing my mom emotional.

The kid that got married is the grandson of my mom’s brother. My mom’s brother was killed about 10 or 15 years ago in a horse-riding accident. That’s why my mom makes a point of attending important events in these kids’ lives . . . she is attending on behalf of her brother.

Several times during the wedding, she said that her brother should have been there and that she really missed him being there. She actually got tears in her eyes.

I’ve only seen her with tears in her eyes two other times in my life . . . once when I was about six or seven years old . . . my brother and his wife sent her flowers for her birthday . . . or maybe it was Mother’s Day. She didn’t cry, but she had tears in her eyes.

The other time is when we returned to her house from the hospital on the day my dad died . . . she had a total meltdown then . . . she cried hysterically . . . loudly . . . uncontrollably . . .

I’ve never seen her cry other than that . . . I didn’t see her cry at her mom’s funeral, I didn’t see her cry at her brother’s funeral . . .

The weird thing is that, this weekend, I didn’t get tears in my eyes when I saw tears in her eyes . . . I always get very emotional at weddings and funerals, almost to the point I can’t stand going. And, if someone is crying, I always cry along with him or her because I can feel that person’s emotions with every fiber of my body – sympathetic vibrations, I guess.

But, this time, I was rather detached . . . not sure if I was detached or if whatever has caused me to be so sensitive in the past is starting to heal . . . I just wasn’t as emotionally tuned-in. I don’t know . . .

Edward: When you saw your mom with tears in her eyes, how did that affect you?

Me: I felt protective of her . . . and I wanted to make sure she knew it was okay to be emotional and to have tears in her eyes. I wanted her to have space for that. I asked a few questions so she could talk about what was going on inside of herself.

Edward: How did she respond?

Me: She didn’t say much; she was quiet for a few minutes then changed the conversation to something more mundane.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


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