Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries and Kim’s post yesterday brought those thoughts even more to the forefront of my mind. A lot of tests to my boundaries have been taking place lately and ohmyfreakin’goodness do I have trouble with it.
I am a reform(ing)ed people-pleaser.
I like making other people happy at the expense of my own happiness. I like saying what other people want to hear. It’s hard for me to say no and it’s hard for me to argue. (I’m getting better, I swear!)
One of the worst instances of this happened about seven years ago. I filed a sexual harassment complaint against someone I worked with. I was twenty at the time and he was probably in his fifties. He never really talked to anyone and he always gave me a creepy vibe. He was constantly invading my space. Getting way too close to me, and when he brushed past me several times with his groin brushing my butt it became something that was completely unacceptable.
I went to management about it and then had to meet with a female manager that I didn’t know. I told her about the situation and then she asked me some questions like:
“Well you’re a very friendly person maybe he was just trying to be your friend.”
To which I replied with a “No.”
“So you don’t think he’s just shy and trying to find a way to talk to you?”
To which I replied with an uncertain, “Well I don’t think so…”
The questions kept coming and making me feel like I was wrong and that I wasn’t saying the “right” thing so eventually I relented and agreed that maybe he was just trying to be my friend.
Trying to be my friend by inappropriately touching me. Yeah. That made sense.
That moment still haunts me because I gave up my power to someone else and I still haven’t forgiven myself for it. It still makes me furious that I did that. It makes me sad that I didn’t have enough faith and confidence to say that it was wrong and stick to that. A few days later I talked to someone else about it, stood my ground, and the guy was fired, but I was still stuck on the fact that if my friends and family hadn’t pushed me to do that, I would’ve let him get away with it.
Right now I am finding my boundaries challenged in less traumatic ways. Whenever I come across resistance to my boundaries I think of how I felt after that day and I realize that the cost of sticking up for my boundaries is way less than the cost to cave in.
If I would have stuck up for myself it would have made me feel uncomfortable in the moment, it would have made me feel anxious to disagree with someone that intimidated me, but I guarantee you I wouldn’t still be torn up about it seven years later.
Sticking up for your boundaries probably isn’t going to be fun in the moment, it may even make you feel terrible and like a horrible person, but when you embrace your power to say no, to say this is how I deserve to be treated, to say that what someone is doing to you is not okay, you create a better future for yourself.
It’s hard, it sucks, especially when you feel like you’re the only person fighting for you. It gets easier. The more you stick up for yourself the easier it is to realize that you’re worth it. That you matter and so do you boundaries. Don’t let people make you uncomfortable. Don’t relinquish your power because you are too scared to use it. Know that you are worth the time, the effort, and the energy of standing up for yourself.
Don’t let others take advantage of your love, your body, your time, or your energy. You don’t have to put up with it. Even if you’ve let people push past your boundaries before that doesn’t mean you have to keep letting it happen. At any time you have permission to stop it. Let today be the day that you enforce your boundaries. Let today be the day you choose you.