Today's post isn't going to be about homeschooling, or product reviews, or my favorite place on Earth (WDW!). Today, I'm going to come out with a (semi) struggle I am dealing with.
Finding the balance.
It isn't what it sounds like. I feel that I'm doing pretty well with the important things - faith, family, friendships. What I'm having a hard time balancing is boundaries. Kindness versus honesty. Patience versus being assertive. Doormat versus bulldozer.
First, let me give you some background. For as long as I can remember, I've been a doormat. I've allowed others to walk on me. I've allowed my perception to be changed by how others treated me. I lost sleep, for years. I argued with those that truly wanted the best for me (hubby, best friends), because I defended the people who treated me poorly. I quickly dismissed the actions of the harsh people in my life to those who were trying to protect me. I tried not to let the selfless people in my life see how the selfish people affected me. I was truly, my own worst advocate. And it all came crashing down.
I realized that when I was worried and preoccupied that I wasn't a very good wife, mom, or friend. I was so wrapped up in my own suffering, that I wasn't honest or truly present with others. I became incredibly anxious. I woke up sobbing. I was alone in my pain, (purposefully).
Then, God placed someone amazing in my life.
Last July I went to summer camp with my family. While there, I spent much of my time with a few ladies from my church. I poured out my life to them, and they were incredibly gracious to me. They were never harsh or judgmental, but they were honest. And some of the things they said were incredibly difficult to hear. But I needed to hear every word of it.
The woman that I talked to the most has grandchildren around my age. She has been through so much in her life and has dealt with a lot of pain. She's had people affect her in the way that I had been allowing others to affect me. And she told me that our situations were very similar. She pointed out that even though we love other people, they may not treat us with love. Some people only want to be in our lives when they feel that they control us; they purposely say things to get a reaction out of us. If they are miserable, they make sure everyone else in their life is miserable - they will manipulate anyone and everyone to get what they want, and it doesn't affect them that they hurt others. They only invest in relationships when they are easy and beneficial to them. They are the bulldozers.
I didn't want to believe that people that I loved so much could be manipulators. It hurt to think that I could love someone who didn't really care how I felt.
It took me a few days of prayer, reflection, and Bible reading to realize that everything the kind woman said was true. And I realized that I needed to change.
I needed to stop enabling it. I wasn't voicing my opinions. I didn't speak
up when I felt hurt. I bottled it up to keep the peace.
peace, it created turmoil.
I couldn't allow these people to walk all over me. I would no longer allow the drama to cause problems in my household. I recommitted myself to my husband and kids, and for the first time, I stood up to people. If I couldn't/didn't want to do something, I told them. When they tried to make me upset, I stood like a wall. I may have quivered a bit, but they couldn't see it. They tried to bulldoze me, but it was no longer effective. I did not budge. And, for the first time in my life, I felt free. And I still feel free.
I no longer feel the need to keep the peace. Instead, I've learned how to not let them control how I feel. Sure, there have been a couple setbacks, but it's been far easier that I thought it would be.
And sometimes I question myself. I question if I am dealing with them in the way that God would want me to. I wonder if I need to be kinder, or more patient. I wonder if I should make myself more vulnerable so that I am more compassionate. I wonder if God would approve of me standing up for myself; if he would want for me to be emotionless when people are purposefully trying to create drama. I know if my children were in my position, without question I would want them to stand up for themselves.
One thing that I've noticed since I became an advocate for myself, is that my life has become more peaceful. I am really proud of who I am, and how far I've come. I just need to find the balance. I need to be kind, compassionate, and gracious, but protected. I want to be a representative of Christ in all that I do, and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what that means. I'm a work in progress, but for now, I think I'll enjoy some uninterrupted sleep.