weak boundaries

Building boundaries only works if they’re maintained. I learned some great things before I stopped seeing my therapist in the middle of 2018. That’s when I wanted to start guiding my own course. Not purposefully, of course.

But I vividly remember feeling the awkward tension in my chest as I painted a rosier picture of my new relationship during our last session though I did have some concerns and felt the weight of red flags. I didn’t want to admit or face any mistake I was making to avoid dealing with immediate pain.

We all know what they say about hindsight.

I can see more clearly every day how I got to where I am right now. I take full responsibility for my poor choices. No one forced a day’s actions upon me. As a sensitive person and an only child, I become grossly codependent at low points. I have weak boundaries. I take medicine everyday to help me feel better. I need to talk to my therapist. I’m going tomorrow, as I have been avoiding for a year a half. It’s going to be good for me.

All in all, my worst fear is being alone. Yet I’ve alienated most every friend and family member I have besides my parents over the past two years and isolated myself, turned down invitations, quit responsibilities, almost sabotaged some of the best opportunities I’ve got. I have tremendous anxiety about my parents dying. I don’t have siblings, and with few who truly know my whole life – I am paralyzed by the idea of a world without them. This isn’t continuous, simply latent.

When I distract myself, it’s usually a relationship. Because I made horrible choices in my marriage, I thought I could use someone “highly attentive” in this new love interest. So I jumped right into that seven months later. It was nice until I felt suffocated. It was on and off continuously. The snooping and demands for information when I actually was being trustworthy became exhausting and demeaning. I didn’t leave because of my codependency, for one. Two, I think I believed deep down I deserved someone controlling because of my previous actions in life. And three, just generally not wanting to do the whole breakup thing. The worst angry version of myself was the norm as it got worse and worse and we broke it off over and over. I hate who I became. I wish I hadn’t allowed myself to continue forward, but forgiveness is important.

Finally last summer it was really over. And I started building boundaries again.

Started to.

same days forever

Originally written November 2018.

Nothing about it is really novel. I’m grateful. Not in that everyday thanksgiving applause for the soothing appreciables around me. It’s a cryptic thanks that I can barely hold onto because I have to face ugly authenticity to keep it in my grasp.

I’ve justified actions in my life. I’ve leaned into my will, creating unexpected life curves. I felt strong navigating the wrong worlds where my weaknesses were magnified. Foreboding joy, my inevitable curse.

It happened so slowly I didn’t know I was broken. I knew my relationships were twisted. I’d been to therapy and forgiven others. Much harder to forgive me. And more—to know me,—and why? To claim authenticity as my deepest desire, but…

…the duplicity. The juxtaposition of my desires, values and the truth of my decisions, life products.

After I changed everything I got lost for a while. I didn’t trust anyone, especially me. I tried new community endeavors that fulfilled me for a time, and then I stopped. I pulled away.

I took full responsibility and self assessment. I still got mad at blameful stories. I trembled with powerlessness and paranoia. But I faced it. I discovered the roots of issues in me dug into thicker, deeper roots. Ideas bloom. Some need to die or be in someone else’s garden.

I have learned things, but I have mainly learned that I need to learn more. I live for myself now, and I desperately try to focus on my daughter. It’s rare I can remember specifics about those years because it pains me that I lost time slaving my mind away for what didn’t ever add back to my life’s value.

That’s what I mean by cryptic gratitude. I used to be very open and carefree. Now I don’t let many people in. I am careful. I ask questions instead of share my story first. I test the waters and evaluate a person’s motives and value system. I judge on my perceptions when I didn’t before. I used to have a very enthusiastic way of connecting information in ideas, places, and people. That’s become more latent since I don’t go out as much and has been replaced with more analytical skills from reading and watching content.

I guess I’m possibly more well-rounded. Maybe boring. I’m always evaluating. Whoever I am, I’m different now. That’s what I’ve noticed lately.

not only, but also

the existential crisis i was kind of vague about in previous posts was regarding my work. i’m so dramatic. it’s amazing what a few weeks of perspective can achieve. even in these several days, i can look back and see where perseverance and vulnerability to change has gotten me over a hurdle into the centered environment i have longed for myself. what i’ve tried to articulate in previous posts is that i was passionate about my last job. i felt important. those brands resonated with me, because i took ownership and responsibility of all i could. i value the people i worked beside every day. 

for five years i had the same bosses. for five years i had the same career responsibilities. for five years i had the same mental projections about the future based on those essentials. again, i’m framing this very dramatically. i sought the ends to all of these things. even though i still get to do some part-time work with my old company, i can’t be as immersed i once was. for me, when i transition into a new role, i’m all in. my mind begins to soak in and soak up. i start noticing the world from that perspective, and the old point of view fades. it’s still there somewhere. it’s just not in the forefront. 

to be real and raw, it all just happened fast. i knew my marriage was ending far before papers were filed. we both did. that’s how we’re able to be friends now and raise our daughter together. but right after i filed, i decided i was moving to a new, clear space. and to a school zone for V’s future. then, i felt a prompting to look for jobs. i applied for two. i got called for this one, and i prayed for a specific offer. i told my mom if i got that, i was accepting it. and here we are.

that kind of faith leaves room for doubt, and it got to me for weeks. i picked up and left a lot of comfortable knowledge and command behind. for weeks, i only saw my parents and vayda. i didn’t even really tell them about work because i was too tired to articulate what i was learning. we finally got to the week before i moved and packed up the whole house, my mom, dad, and grandma. that was the turning point for me. it felt so light to give away all that burdened me, organizing it beautifully into a place that is mine and Vayda’s only. without realizing it, i was performing all my tasks with my own flair at work and feeling like a team member. i had gotten through a big event and two grants while maintaining my marketing functions. 

i was doubting myself in certain moments, but ultimately i knew in my core that my belief in myself and my values is what landed me in this position. in the past month since moving and having this realization, i am overcome with more peace than ever. i wasn’t suffering in unrest before. i was simply enjoying solitude while i meditated on the right direction for my life. but now that i have this peace, i find my productivity has increased tremendously, and i attract great opportunities in areas that i desire. i have several commissioned painting projects in my queue which brings my heart so much joy. i have graphic design clients i work on in my free time.

and i simply love my career. my job with the agency is something i am passionate about. it’s fast paced, i design all day, write grants, talk to the press–there is always something going on. it’s something that makes me proud. i can visualize a future now that makes me prouder than anything i previously imagined. 

wanting for nothing feels excellent. blessed is really all i can say about my life.

fortress ’round my heart

“[Your eyes so full of wonder]
I have crossed the horizon to find you
[Your heart, an innocent warrior]
I know your name
[There’s a task for you]
They have stolen the heart from inside you
[My dearest one]
But this does not define you
[And your deep thoughts]
This is not who you are.
You know who you are.”

it’s clear my heart is completely vulnerable when i cry tears of solidarity with the monster/hero *spoiler* at the pivotal moment in Moana (lyrics to song quoted above).  i spent a couple of weeks on my parents’ couch in November. i’d been on my own for eight years, and it was the most depressed i’d felt in a while. i had the option to sleep in my old bedroom, but i couldn’t bring myself to accept the accommodations. my mom got V to sleep even though it was my joy to rock her every night of her life. my world was upside down, and i had turned it that way. i made the decision. there were no surprises. i planned it all to go this way. but i felt like i could barely carry on except to watch tv on the couch. it took me a moment to accept the reality i was creating, because i was creating new for someone else who i want to protect more than even me.

but i made a decision in those weeks that i’ve opted to keep living by. keep moving. sometimes life’s favorable. sometimes life’s miserable. but even if i’m treading water, i’m not drowning. i’ve been barely above water some days. but most always, i have moved forward with optimal outcomes. processing things as they come and allowing myself to move through them in a wise and timely manner has mattered the most.

“are you OK, erin?” i haven’t known what to say, so i give really awkward answers. when people ask me that, i really appreciate it. they really inflect certain parts of the question to let me know they’re inquiring about my personal life. how do i say in three to four sentences that i have been processing this situation with professional help for over a year now so i feel kind of peaceful and clear now? people think i’m in denial or callous. but, if you saw an inevitable future a long while ago, would you face it and protect yourself, or would you lie down and die in it?

when i wrote my last blog post, i decided to be open about my journey through counseling. it was kind of like i was opening the door to everyone, “hey, something is coming. i am grasping for connection. i am living in the now until now is no longer.” i knew when i started the therapy journey over a year ago i had some big personal choices to make and i couldn’t make them based on my own wisdom and understanding. i had to develop tools and strengths. i had to sort through a lot of emotional and relational chaos. i read endlessly, listened to wise counsel of the experienced, discussed with professionals, talked to Biblical counselors. after the final decision was made in fall, i finally opened up to my best friends, who were totally clueless about my personal life. you know, it’s odd that way. i’m one of those people who claims to be open, light and free, but i have hidden so much darkness and pain over these last five years. depression showed me so much truth and humor about the world, but it isolated me into becoming a pitiful sliver of myself.

through my therapists, i have been able to look at my life over and over through many lenses.

looking things in the face and not making excuses for my actions was troubling, but i have experience with people who blame others for their problems. i refuse to become a bitter person who can’t identify my responsibility in a situation and move past things, making the best of a bad decision.

i learned to accept choices made from the perversion of duty in my mind. i embrace my anger and my darkness. i’m fueled and impassioned by feelings, but i have to abide by reason and balance. pushing those energies toward good makes all the difference for me. i can look inside myself and accept me, even if i don’t like aspects. i aspire to be better. i forced myself to find beauty and healing in the choices i made, even though i acquired a tremendous amount of pain. over time, the emotional pain got to be so much that i became numb without noticing, and that was the worst. i would fearfully wonder if i would feel again, being such a sensitive soul yet so disconnected from the realm of emotions. there were months where the only things that brought sparks of emotional energy to me were my child and hip-hop music (weirdly true).

then, i came through it. over time, the numbness dissolved. i feel it all now. i’m grateful for pain. pain means i’m living. and sometimes my feelings are so raw, i’m like a child expressing them. i don’t inhibit myself much. it’s a double-edged sword. not in a tantrum kind of way, but in the way that i almost wrecked my car last friday as my eyes filled with joyful tears as i stared at the blooming whites of the trees against a perfect pink sunset. sometimes i am so scared i will move back into the old mindset that i throw walls up really hard at people to protect myself. so basically, i’m a very free-feeling hermit. i hid behind a facade and a concept of what i was shamed into being for so many years, i lost myself for a while. that was my choice. i forgive myself for giving into those ideas, and now my life is back in the correct direction. i’m rebuilding.

i am not afraid of love. i believe in love more than ever. my ultimate goal has always been peace and authenticity. before this season. throughout my entire life. getting out of unrest was the goal, and moving toward peace is the vision. positive thinking and clear boundaries are helping me achieve this. i have found forgiveness in myself and everyone and every hurt. i am so thankful to look back and take a calm breath at the end of a difficult season. spring is here with the beginning of a lot of “new.”

i have no regrets, and my mind rests.