Using Therapy To Help Draw Boundaries

2015 has been a crazy year for me. Some things have been really positive: I paid off the last of my student loans. I sold my house. I’m making huge progress on paying off my car loan. Bryan and I are really starting to dream about the future we plan on creating together.

But it hasn’t all been dreams and accomplishments; There’s been a lot of drama in my family over the past several months. Sometimes it feels like the past is repeating itself. And just as I’m finally starting to have big dreams, and the confidence to pursue them, I feel like I’m expected to give it all up. As women, we’re often taught that we should be selfless and giving. Only a bitch would put her own needs first, especially when she could find the time and resources to do otherwise.

I touched on some of what has been going on lately in The Flowers That Sent Me Over The Edge. I’ve felt a confusing mix of emotions the last few months in regards to everything that is going on: Everything from sympathy and grief, to anger, fear and apprehension. With a nice side of judgement and disappointment!

I knew that I needed help sorting through my emotions. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes I’ve made in the past. So, 3 weeks ago, I started seeing a therapist.

It didn’t come as a surprise to me to be told I have a serious issue with setting boundaries when it came to my family. I even wrote about it not long after I started this blog. I’m not going to lie, therapy has been a tough, heartbreaking process so far. I’m finally having to focus on where my emotions are coming from, and what built our family dynamic. I’m also learning to see and accept what my relationships with the people (especially women) in my life actually are, versus what I want to believe them to be (i.e., Sometimes family members are just members of your family, no matter how much you want them to be a friend).

My biggest concern lately has been surrounding my younger sister, and the news of another nephew (It’s a boy!). Don’t get me wrong, I love babies! But there’s a lot of history and hurt there*, and good reason to be concerned. I’d love to be able to say the past is the past, and people change. But my sister is proving otherwise. And, even though the baby’s birth is many months off, I’m already being questioned as to what my financial and time commitments will be.

Bryan and my plans for the future don’t include a child. That wasn’t originally my plan in life, but I’m adjusting to the reality of our situation. Yes, I want to be involved in my nephews’ lives. But I have to be cautious about the extent of my involvement; I can’t use this baby to fill a void in my life. And I know my sister well enough that becoming too involved will only lead to heartbreak. She has a strong support network that, if she doesn’t abuse it, will help her through the hardships of single parenting. She doesn’t need me to “save” her.

Through therapy, I’m learning that my sister’s story is her story. I can sympathize, and even feel sorry for her. But she’s making choices according to what she wants in life. I don’t have to agree with those choices. I’m also not responsible for the outcome**. And likewise, my story is my story. I’m responsible for my own choices, and my own outcome. And I have every right to want big things in my life, and chase after those dreams.

I’m not abandoning my family; I’ll obviously still be involved in everyone’s lives, hopefully in a more “normal” way. I just need to learn to make the life Bryan and I are building together my #1 priority, without feeling guilty about it. Otherwise, I’ll end up back where I was 5 years ago: Alone, broke, and with no hopes for the future. I’m too old for that!

– Cindy W.

*I’ve talked about my financial past with my sisters before. After all, this is a financial blog. But there’s a lot of other history there in regards to my nephews. I was going to go into more detail, but I really don’t feel like it’s necessary to the story. After all, this post is about the changes I’m trying to make, not about my sister’s past mistakes.

**Obviously, the safety and well being of the baby will always be first and foremost; If there are ever concerns in that regard,  I’ll work with my Mom (and Bryan, of course) to make whatever adjustments are necessary.

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