Boundaries are definitely not easy and not straight forward. Especially when you feel like you need to set them with a family member, a friend, or a significant other. I, unfortunately, have to set boundaries with many people in my life, even the ones who you may think would be the closest. Like my mother.
My mother is a great woman, most of the time. She can also be extremely toxic and narcissistic. She suffers from substance abuse, severe anxiety, and bipolar disorder. She can be very loving one minute and bite your head off the next. Because of this, I need to set pretty intense boundaries with her, which include the following
Limit Time Together
I love my mother, I really do, but I can’t spend a lot of time with her. Once I hit the two or three hour mark I feel genuinely exhausted. When I lived with my mother, I spent all my time in my room, away from her. Even before I recognized that I needed these boundaries, I had already been using them. This is something I do for my own sake, but also hers. We tend to fight when we are together for too long, and that’s not good for either of us.
Say no when I feel the situation is toxic or if it is too draining for me
This one is hard, because there are situations where I feel like I should be there for her, but can’t because it will effect my mental wellbeing. My mother has a tendency to make everything about her, which sounds very juvenile of me to say, but let’s just recap the way I told her my therapist thought I had BPD
me: yeah, my therapist thinks I have borderline personality disorder
her: I GAVE YOU AN AMAZING CHILDHOOD, don’t you dare say this is my fault.
So yeah, you get the idea.
Recognize when things are starting to be too much and take action
If I am with my mom and she starts acting a type a way that triggers me, I will leave. No ifs, ands or buts, I. Will. Leave. And she knows this. I’m at the point with her and everyone in my life that if I feel like something effects my mental health, I am gone.
I will sometimes go months without speaking to my mom, only for her to call me up and ask for money, or ask for a favour that negatively impacts me directly. I say no. And I don’t feel bad about it.
The thing with mental illness, especially if you experienced trauma in the past, is that you need to learn how to prioritize your mental wellbeing first. It doesn’t matter that they are blood, or a best friend, or your significant other. Toxic is toxic and if it hurts you it hurts you. I am not saying to cut off ties with everyone in your life, but build boundaries around relationships that can hinder your growth mentally. I am a firm believer that NOTHING comes before your mental health. Not physical health, not friendships you’ve had for years that you’re afraid to end, not your own mother’s toxic behaviors. Take care of your relationships, your boundaries, and most importantly,
Take care of yourself