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Over time I’ve learned a lot about boundaries. I’ve learned that I’ve been really bad about establishing them and even worse about maintaining them. When my boundaries are tested, I typically allow them to be collapsed, even worse, I feel guilty about even having a boundary.

It took me most of my adult life to understand that boundaries are for me, not others. Most people (from my experience) don’t recognize the boundaries of others, they will keep taking, using, hurting as long as you allow them to do so. That is the key though, understanding that we ‘allow’ them to use and disrespect us.

I’ve had to learn how to say “No” and mean it, not feel guilty about it. I need to be able to recognize when enough is enough and draw a line. I still struggle with saying no and not feeling guilty about it. It’s a constant struggle within myself.

I’m finding my boundaries being tested again and know that I have a decision to make as to whether or not I’m going to be strong and fortify this boundary.

When my husband’s Uncle passed away recently, we both knew that he would have to encounter his sister and our nieces at the viewing and funeral. This was the reason I decided to stay at home, so things wouldn’t be any more stressful than they already were for my husband.

I recently found out that his sister pressured him for “all of us to have a meeting and talk everything out”. She suggested their mother should be the mediator.

Initially I wondered if it wouldn’t be a good idea, just to be able to say some things I wish I’d have said a year and a half ago. I thought maybe sitting down together would allow us to finalize things so we could put the idea of reconciliation to rest.

My husband and I discussed it. He pointed out that we’d tried to reconcile numerous times in the past, each time his sister had refused to discuss whatever had occurred that had brought about distance between us. She’d insisted that we should just forget what happened, just move forward. There were never any apologies, never any acknowledgment of disrespect or dishonesty, just an unrealistic expectation of tolerance.

He reminded me that, as sad as it sounds, since we’ve been married, the most difficult times, the most stress, the worst struggles have been when we allowed his sister to be part of our lives. She seems to bring emotional chaos to our lives.

He reminded me how she’s lied to and hurt our son, that by allowing her back into our lives, each time, has not only hurt us and caused us pain, but has also negatively affected our son.

I would have been willing to sit down and have a talk. I would have opened myself up to another anxiety attack, I would have allowed her to have the opportunity to abuse me yet again. Why? Because I didn’t want to be the one to say no, to be seen as unreasonable. I would have allowed my boundary to be crossed.

A friend shared their philosophy with me…

You can say sorry a million times, say I love you as much as you want, say whatever you want, whenever you want. But if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, then don’t say anything at all. Because if you can’t show it, your words don’t mean a thing.

My friend asked me whether my sister-in-law, or my nieces have ever taken any action to demonstrate that they mean what they have said, or any action to change the behaviors that have caused such a problem. Considering they have never acknowledged any contribution to the dynamics of our relationship with them, the answer to both questions is no. My friend then asked me why they even deserve any consideration of the proposition to have a meeting and talk everything out. Put things in perspective quickly, that did.

This boundary is still in place, thanks to my husband and friend for reminding me to consider the situation absent the emotional component. I cheated off their papers, but I think I passed this test.