Setting Boundaries: When to Forgive and Forget

Yesterday was just weird. (See yesterday’s post). The conversation about the lost package really bothered me. It wasn’t about the lost package suddenly anymore but about trust – and who I can and cannot share my feelings with. Or as a psychologist would say, “feel safe” sharing feelings with. The way our psyches work, when we have “encounters of the unfortunate kind” (lol) with others we figure out what works, and what doesn’t. Our minds whether we know it or not, stores this information away for future “encounters”. I have seen this cycle so many times over the years where I recoil, clam up, and so forth. And maybe I will and maybe I won’t, but it’ll at least be my choice – this time.

At almost 58, I’m going to say what I need to say if I want to say it. I’m not saying that I am going to berate someone over the coals or have license to be ugly or rude. I’m saying that I am going to say how I feel, or voice my opinion if I need to or want to. I’m not going to bite my tongue and be a little mouse just because others do not want to hear me talk. Wherever I take up space and time, there I am. God made me and he made me with specific traits and talents in mind. ALL of us have traits that can be bad or good. Our good traits can also be bad at times. Depending on people’s moods, minds they have made up, deceptions and delusions they hold on to – a person can perceive these talents as good or bad as well. That is on them. But I’m not going to recoil and hover over in the corner afraid someone might think bad of me if I state a thought, my feelings, or opinions. Life is way too short for that. Now, If I want to recoil, I’ll hold that right as I will share with others when I’m ready to. I get to choose that.

The package was found by the way, it showed up in Memphis after no scans for 10 days. Thank you post office. I can truly say the Post office has impacted a relationship. LOL. I would say it was good timing as it did lighten the load a bit that the package showed. I had told my mother of the situation and she experienced the same “oh no it’s not replaceable” reaction that I had that was met with so much criticism. Whether others believe it or not, I had a right to be concerned as well as she did. I had to right to consider the worst case scenario and what to do about it. (Being negative about it is how we were perceived, I was told.) However, the whole scenario scarred my mood yesterday. Yes we have choices whether to allow that or not, but if you care, you WILL let it bother you because you want to figure it out. To be flippant about the whole scenario would mean not to care. But at least the package was found. Now to find the rest of the answers. It’s a principle thing. It’s not that easy as a found package can be. But it did make the day a little brighter that it showed.

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So yesterday, I had to set a boundary with someone so we could walk the line and not jump over the cliff. It really came down to the point of me not really caring so much as to why they reacted the way they did over a recent conversation, but just going forward telling them what I needed from our conversations and how I wanted to be treated. I basically had to say that to avoid an argument or misunderstanding, when I say something about how I feel – just acknowledge it, don’t give your opinion unless I ask for it. That may sound rude, but it is really not. It’s a “tool”. I’m helping the other person try to understand how to deal with me, because apparently they are having a hard time with it. And from hearing others at times, I think this is a communication issue this person has when talking with others as well. I don’t really want this person’s opinion of how I feel or whether I should feel that way or not everytime I say something. So I let them know that to avoid me feeling like I’m being critiqued at every sentence, when I say something just say “I hear you”. All I need is to be heard a lot of the time. I’m not asking for advice or critique. When the person begins to understand this they will see a different outcome from our discussions and everyone will be happy.

At some point when I begin to trust again, I will decide when it is appropriate to share my feelings. But if I want to speak I will. I invited this person to set their own boundaries with me if they want and let me know how they need to be treated during our conversations.

We did this discussion about our communications by email yesterday. Otherwise I’d not have had an opportunity to talk until the very end of the conversation. My communications with this person usually means I am not allowed to say anything until they are through so as to not interrupt and be rude, but they rarely are through, lol, and at the end my thought processes I can’t keep up with the conversation unless I have a pen and a piece of paper because my memory can’t hold it that long.

Once we got to the point where I set boundaries, I got no response back at all from the emails. In my experience, boundary setting, usually evokes silence and stops people in their tracks, in my experience anyway. I don’t think it is always the norm. It depends on the type of person you are dealing with. I think it surprises most people when you do that and they don’t know what to say. What can they really say? It gives them something to think about.

So it’s just so much easier having discussions with a brick wall sometimes. Or a blog. LOL. And of course, sometimes while trying to bring walls down, create safe rules for conversations, walls are being built. Walls to safeguard ones heart and to find sources of release and confidences that are safe to your psyche, that build you up yourself, and not the walls around you. But, really, I think in the long haul that setting boundaries, create safe places for you to be able to communicate without fear of _______________ fill in the blank of bad behavior.

I have debated all day about how to forgive and forget. But how can you forgive and forget when you need to figure out the balances and the rules and how to have a basic conversation with someone you encounter many hours of the day. If you care enough to figure you out, you try to do that. No more sweeping under the rug only to have a big mound there to keep tripping over it later. No! Let’s be a bull in a ring and face the issues head on and set the safe zones and free zones and tackle the issues headstrong and set the clear path – define what works and what doesn’t. Let’s not go off the side of the cliff, let’s set those defining lines in the road of what is my side and your side and how each needs to be treated and follow the rules and drive on the same road together without going off the sides.

Don’t you get tired of people having to say “I walk on egg shells around _____”. Well if you do, it’s your own fault. Because you can’t set boundaries. Once I set some boundaries with someone close to me, our relationship got better because I defined how I wanted to be treated. They responded well to it eventually. And I trust talking to them more. I just asked “Please don’t do this anymore. If you wonder why I’m not around, this is the reason, right here. If you do this, I’m leaving. If you act this way, treat me this way, I’m going to leave and come back another day.” It may seem hard to do, and it will be the first time but you will be respected later for setting those boundaries.

Sadly though if boundaries cannot be set and followed for the misery of everyone involved and the toxicity levels that so high, the relationship has to be terminated. People cannot flourish in a toxic atmosphere. Other decisions have to be made. But why jump a step without trying to fix things first? No more shoving things under carpets. I think God expects us to try and work things out first. I’ve not always done this in my past. I have at least one situation where I didn’t. And I have reasons as to why.

So back to forgiveness and forgetting. It sounds so easy doesn’t it? Maybe it should be. When you care about a relationship with someone and you have issues, you want to fix it so forgetting doesn’t seem appropriate. You have to remember the problem long enough to try to fix the problem. So I struggled with this yesterday. I didn’t want to just forget and go on. I wanted to fix it for the future.

Maybe today I can forget. But everything is still too fresh. My feelings are still hurt. I don’t feel safe sharing yet. I’ve lost trust that will take time to build back up. And it’s sad b/c I had come around a curve on some things and just “accepted” some things that were always bothering me. Sadly I’m going the other direction again with the person. So I can try to forgive and forget as I can. It’s harder when there are no apologies, or no one else trying to work it out. Why I have to line myself up with people whose arrogances won’t allow an apologies I will never know. LOL.

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And that is another point us women have to remember. To stop saying sorry for things we 1) are not really sorry for 2) didn’t really do. It harms our relationships if used in the wrong scenarios and can enable bad behaviors to continue. So QUIT saying you are sorry if you did nothing wrong. My new phrase which I got from Jen Hatmaker, is “Sorry – not Sorry!” LOL LOL LOL

“Sorry, I’m not sorry.” Is so hilarious to me. It’s soooooo something we women would say. We are trying not to be sorry, but sorry anyway, lol. But if you DID screw something up, OWN IT! You LOSE your credibility as a person if you can’t apologize when you do something wrong.

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I think forgiveness is about love. And fixing things is about love. I try not to keep a record of wrongs as the Bible says we should not. And that alone has kept my marriage together. When something goes wrong, that list of forgotten wrongs can surely come back to try and haunt you. But I try and focus on the current issue only and that tactic alone has helped me to NOT pack of my things and move out – more than once. Start throwing in the A, B, C’s and X, Y, Z’s from the past and it’s over already. It complicates a conversation and twists it up so bad that you can’t talk through it at that point. It’s exhaustive.

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”

― Fred Rogers

We watched the Tom Hanks, Mister Rogers movie the other night and this phrase was so simple, yet so profound. In the movie it was a little different. It was something like. If you have a problem and you communicate with another, the problem can be managed. It stuck with me.

So all that said, I’ll try to work on the forgiving and forgetting. But it’ll be a while before I can come around the curve again – at my choice. I will speak my feelings or not speak them according to which I choose. At some point I think it’s a privilege to know what someone’s feelings are and right now I’m choosing to hold back, but we’ll see how it goes. It’s kinda like respect – knowing my feelings, has to be earned. I have to know that my feelings won’t be questioned or played with or mocked or dismissed as unimportant. If I share my feelings with you then know you are privileged and I trust you, until that trust is broken. If I am not opening up to you there might be a reason.

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So today I kinda feel like this above. A blank slate. My spirits have been kinda deflated. My excitement of the coming holidays have waned a bit. I don’t really know how to explain it. I guess I just thought things were better than they really were. It’s kinda like being knocked off the horse, the sail boat falling over in the wind, or any number of misfires, pick your favorite.

It’s ok. I’m used to having to bring myself back up. With God’s help. So I will. I will find the wind in my sails again, feel loved again somewhere somehow, and start forward momentum again. Maybe not today.

4 responses to “Setting Boundaries: When to Forgive and Forget”

  1. I believe that one can forgive but can rarely forget. And I don’t think we have to as adults. If someone says something we know its intentional or they wouldn’t say it. To hurt or make fun of the person or situation is very childish. And its a form of bullying. One should apologize with out having to ask for an apology . And I , Like you will hold onto something for a very long time if I’m hurt.

    Stand your ground 🙂

  2. words leave a mark. you can forgive, but not forget. i’ve spent most of my life walking around on eggshells juggling everybody’s feelings but my own. that is no way to live. hang in there. take care.

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