I think you make a good point here. In many ways it takes two for a boundary violation to occur, one to try to cross the boundary and one to allow it to be crossed.
Seekryt wrote:I agree. I think we often see that pattern, and if we look a little more deeply into the family portrayed in the first chapter - NONE of them has a reasonable concept or implementation of boundaries. Not having any themselves, and not respecting those of others.
When you have a group or family that does not understand boundaries, you have a mess and everyone is at fault. Interestingly, it often takes just one person in a group with good boundaries for the dynamics to start to change.
I have lost my marriage and entire family due to lack of boundaries and safety. I am down to a shaky peace with my ex-husband, his family, church, and some online friends.
My ex-husband's family is horrible with boundaries, but they are not physically or sexually dangerous people. Instead of loosing more people, I'm trying to practice a relationship with my ex-MIL. We never really had much of a relationship before. It was always delicate and controlled by her. She had her hand in our finances while I was still married to her son. She even took my car away from me and gave it to her brother because we were struggling financially, he needed a car, and she decided to help by taking over the payment and passing the vehicle over to him. I was very hurt and angry over it for a very long time. My husband told me at the time that it did not matter how I felt. Her and her mother both just decide what needs to happen and forces it to come about verbally and with emotional bullying. They "help" you, then get to control you because you "owe" them.
She has had some major changes happen in her life which have devastated her, and she is by her a self a lot. She is wanting me and my kids to fill some void for her now. She wants to be connected and have a better sense of family. I need help with childcare right now. She is a bus driver so my kids have been riding her bus and she brings them to my apartment when the route is over and waits here with them until I get home from work. This has been mostly working OK> There are a few problems I need to address, but I'm trying to do it a little at a time. She is sensitive, and take things very personally.
Instead of going to my new default reaction which is to withdraw and write off the relationship like I did with my family (needed to do), I am trying to go at this in a way that will create a real relationship with autonomy and respect for myself. I'm working on solving the problems more directly and assertively, instead of just pleading or being a doormat until I can find a way out.
Right before Christmas my car broke down. I also had a car payment that was a little late, and I knew I would not be able to pay it. My pastor had said to try to fix the vehicle if was not going to cost a lot, and the church would help pay for that. If it was going to cost very much, then to let it get repossessed and the church would help me get another vehicle. I appreciated the offer, but I really did not want to go to the church for financial; I had just called him for advice. The car problem seemed to get a little worse and I became afraid of driving it because I did not want it to be ruined completely.
This is where my ex-MIL came in. She followed me to mechanic to drop my car off. She was going to be giving me a ride to work until my car was fixed. I was just dropping it off to have an estimate done and to see what I would have to prepare to pay. I really did not want to drop it off yet because I knew it would be at least three weeks, maybe longer before I had the money to do anything with it. She insisted and wanted it done. I let her pressure me into it. I left her phone number with the mechanic because I was going to be at work. I just wanted them to tell her what was wrong and how much it would cost.
When they called her it was way more expensive than I expected. It turned out to have five different problems. The total cost of repairs is 1200.00. She told them to go ahead and fix it without even speaking to me. She decided to have them do the work that would make the car drivable and safe, and then do the rest of the repairs in the next week because she going to be receiving more money at that time. When she picked me up from work I did not even know if she had heard back from them yet. I got in the car and she informed me of what was happening and when, and how I was going to respond.
Her decision was that after she pays for my repairs that I will not miss any payments, and I will pay it off as soon as possible and keep this car for a very long time. I will also either repay her or do the same favor for someone else later. She told me that I had to promise her these things (I RARELY make promises about anything and always hate it when I do even if I can fulfill the promise. It just goes against what I am comfortable with in so many ways). At this point they had already started making the repairs. I did not know what to do because she already had it in motion so I just went along with it.
I have felt miserable the last two weeks because of this. The same thing is happening that has happened in my life again and again. I had made a commitment to myself to not keep living that way. It was just another way to be trapped, controlled, and kept juvenile and dependent. I do know that I need a car. I do know that I need to finish paying for it. The thing is that I need to do it on my own for myself as I am able.
She was saying, "God is going to provide." My repsonse (which I have not spoken out loud) is that God can provide without her ruling my life. She is not the only option He has. I have felt that I have got to have a way to break free of this mess and "owing" her while still maintaining a relationship with her.
The remaining amount is for repairs that are not that vital. The mechanic reassured me that these other problems will not hurt the car, they are just annoying. It is 800.00 dollars worth of annoying (How can something that is "just annoying" cost so much?). Earlier this week she was telling me about when she will have the money to do that, and how we (she) will deal with it. I felt that at this point I did not want that much more hanging over my head. I tried to tell her that I did not want to worry over repaying and being without my car again while it is in the shop for something that is just an annoyance. I have other things that are more pressing on my mind.
She did not like that. She said, "We need these repairs done. They will make your car better. It will last longer. You want this car kept up well because you want to keep it for a while."
I reminded her that the mechanic said that these things were not causing a problem. She told me that they are, and it will effect the motor.
I felt defeated too soon. I gave in. I'm was not good at putting my foot down that day. I just said, "yeah. OK." Then she decided that it would be ok if she did a portion of these repairs and then I promise to do the other later. I went along with it because I could not think of anything good to say.
Here is where it gets good.
Last night she told me again when we are (she is) putting my car in the shop. She went on and on about it for a while. When she finally paused I said, "I don't want to do that. I will get these other repairs done later when I feel like I can do it."
At first she was trying to be the sweet, loving grandmother. She said, "I've told you that I will pay for this. I don't mind. I have the money to. I'm trying to help you out."
I said, "I don't want help. I will do. I want to do it myself. I'll do it later."
Her face changed. It turned dark. I'm not kidding. She got mad and became insulting. In front of my children, in a spiteful voice she said, "Well just be stubborn!"
I said, "Ok," and nodded yes.
She looked shocked then. She seemed frustrated. Her face turned red and she looked like she might cry. Then she said, "I was trying to help you."
I said, "I don't want help. I want to do this."
She asked me if I was sure, and I told her yes. Then she asked if I was still wanting to exercise with her this week. I told her that I have a lot of class work to do, but I can next week (usually I would have just said yes and missed out on homework time.)
She left angry and like her world had just come a halt, but she said that she loves us when she walked out of the door.
My kids saw me stand up to her without getting upset. They saw me dig my heals in and not give in. I got to explain to them that I was choosing to not be controlled and to take care of my own business.
I still owe her for the initial repairs, but it won't be as tough to pay back as all of that would have been. I feel very good about how this situation turned around.
I firmly believe that the only way she and I can have a relationship is if it is on even ground. She has to view me as a peer and an independent adult who wants her but does not need her.