No one ever pointed out to me that we each have personal boundaries. I knew when I didn’t like someone standing too close to me, but the idea that individuals can and do set emotional boundaries confounded me. I do set boundaries with friends, strangers, family members…I mean, I don’t discuss my sex life with my mom! But I didn’t realize those were boundaries.
I remember setting rules for my husband in the beginning. I insisted on the right to go out with my friends, for one. But guess what? After a few times of taking a verbal beating for my “promiscuity”, I pushed that boundary to the side. I quit going out with friends. Eventually I stopped having friends.
So, you see, it isn’t that I went into the relationship without personal boundaries, it’s that we erased my boundaries. My lack of boundaries isn’t all his fault; it was a joint effort. He abusively insisted, I acquiesced. I’ve been quite the doormat when it comes to my husband.
What I Hoped to Accomplish:
After figuring out what a personal boundary was and realizing I didn’t have any, I hoped that my new sense of self would affect him positively. I told myself, “If I am strong now like I was when he met me, eventually I’ll earn back his respect.”
I pictured us standing side-by-side, honoring one another as the individuals we were.
He reacted negatively to my boundaries. He saw my boundaries as disrespectful to him. I guess when you no longer have a doormat, you miss it. My husband must have really loved his doormat because he fought HARD to get it back.
However, I persisted because setting personal boundaries helped me remember a time where other people respected me. Even more than that, I remembered when I respected myself. The more I enforced my boundaries, the angrier he became, and the braver I felt.
No one has the right to step all over me, even if I’ve let it happen for 17 years.
Definitely learn about and set your personal boundaries! Start small, but start. It’s going to feel weird at first – my hands shook the first time I verbalized a boundary. But it gets easier.
Get your safety plan ready. You do not have to leave the relationship to plan for your safety! I’ve got a safety plan right here that will help.