Today’s message brought to myself by Emotional Safety.
You were assaulted. It was a long time ago, but it haunts you still, in part because you never had the time or support to heal. That’s why we’re taking your Younger Self, back right after it all first happened, and putting her in a healing setting. But another part of healing is putting in place protections that ensure no other goblins can drag you down into their filthy caves.
Here’s what I suggest: let’s build a (metaphorical) fence around your (symbolic) house. A tall fence, hard to climb over. There’s a gate, and at the gate, a strong guard (a dog–perhaps a doberman?) who won’t let in any requests until you approve. I recommend you don’t give the okay until you have taken the time to consider these questions:
- Is this request consistent with my values?
- Is fulfilling this request going to be a healthy thing for me, or could it cause me harm?
- Is this the right time in my life to fulfill this request? Will it take time and attention away from things that matter more?
I’m asking you to stop saying “yes” so easily. Don’t be so quick to share your love, your personal information, your expertise, your trust, your body, your money. Those things are yours, and you get to choose how, when and with whom you share.
To facilitate this change, I’m offering you a new tool you can use. It goes like this:”Let me think about it.” That’s it. Five simple words to give yourself the time to consider the request. Some people will push on you, but the good thing about the tool is that you can repeat it and repeat it until they get the message. Also useful: “I will need more information before I can decide.”
You’ve always been the accommodating type. You were explicitly taught at a young age to do what is expected of you, particularly to do what men expect of you, no matter how you feel about it. That’s what you needed to do when you were very young, in the environment you were in. But as an adult, being overly accommodating doesn’t serve you well. It keeps you from choosing for yourself how to spend your time. It keeps you busy with other people’s priorities. It has allowed others to violate you, physically and otherwise. Let that part of your life be over.
I believe you’ll come to see that fences, gates, and guards–in other words, boundaries–are a wonderful thing. They give you the space to define to be who you want to be, to do what you want to do. They keep out the extra stuff that will exist in the world, stuff that may work for other people, but that you don’t want in your own life.
As you prepare yourself to live differently, you will need to be both brave and cautious. Brave enough to be vulnerable. Brave enough to face the impact of past violations. Brave enough to change. And at the same time, cautious enough to protect your emerging, stronger self.