Updated: Nov 8, 2020
“What if I set this boundary and it costs my loved one their life?”
“What if I set this boundary and it costs me my own life?”
These seem like extreme questions but I have learned they are very real. They are questions that have come up in others around me and myself over the years, as I have practiced this boundary thing.
Choosing to honor my own values and boundaries in the face of addiction, abuse, mental illness, and palpable fear has been intensely difficult. In a variety of situations over many years, I have witnessed many dilemmas:
“What if I stop financially supporting my adult child and they lose their home?”
“What if I kick my friend out for not paying rent and they become homeless?”
“What if I break up with my boyfriend and he’s too depressed to handle it?”
“What if I stop tolerating stealing in my home and they go to jail?”
“What if I turn my phone off in the middle of the night and they commit suicide?”
“What if I stop paying for addiction treatment and they die from their addiction?”
“What if I leave this relationship and they threaten my physical safety?”
I guarantee you, when you decide you are willing to honor yourself at ALL COSTS, you will be tested. I have experienced every single one of these fears, although in a variety of relationship contexts.
What I have found is this - boundaries test your faith, they test your commitment, and they challenge the very deepest bones of your beliefs.
I have been willing to suffer a GREAT DEAL before becoming willing to honor my values. I tried ignoring my resentments. I tried to push away my needs. I tried to suppress myself in order to be there for other people. And in the end, I realized all of my helping was only hurting them and deeply betraying myself.
By dishonoring my values, I enabled others to stay in their own shadow of disease and disempowerment. I contributed to their belief they could not get better, that they needed my help, and that they did not have to get honest about how devastating the consequences of their behavior really were.
There is a very REAL risk in honoring boundaries. You allow someone to become emotionally, financially, or physically dependent on you and you better believe there will be some devastating consequences when you break those ties.
Sometimes, people do become homeless.
Sometimes, people hit bottom.
Sometimes, people get dangerously depressed.
Sometimes, people commit suicide.
Sometimes, people go to jail.
Sometimes, people die from their addictions.
Sometimes, women die leaving their partners.
In my experience, those fears are often minimized. People have been quick to tell me fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. And yet, I have witnessed every. Single. One. of those fears come true.
Although there is great risk in getting out of someone else’s way as they discover their own solutions, there is also the highest chance of recovery and change. By honoring someone else’s right to make choices and releasing them of their dependency on you, you contribute to their empowerment and ownership of their own agency.
There is an indescribable quality of courage in someone who comes to the level of clarity that freedom and honor are worth ANY COST. Wrestling through the night with all of the “what if’s” and eventually turning them into “even if’s” is one of the most courageous things anyone could ever do.
It’s about honoring my own life.
It’s about honoring my own Divine rights.
It’s about honoring others’ Divine rights.
It’s about honoring others’ freedom of choice.
It’s about honoring others’ power.
And it’s about TRUSTING the Divine process. TRUSTING that the universe is conspiring in my favor and in yours. TRUSTING there is a higher power and that I am not it.