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  • Boundaries from a Slavic, Christian Therapist Perspective

    In my Slavic, Christian community, we don’t often talk about boundaries, let alone hear them. So often they are violated. 

    I’m going to give you an example; let’s say someone asks you for money and you say, “I will give it to you, just pay me back when you have the chance.”

     That’s an example of an open boundary. You give somebody something with a clear expectation that they can pay you back when they have that item. 

    What about when you give, and you give again and don’t receive in return. After a while, that individual sucks everything out of you?

    What then? 

    That’s when you put a boundary up and say, “I can no longer serve you by giving freely and not receiving from you… I placed this boundary, this line that I no longer want you to cross for the sake of protecting our relationship.”

    That’s healthy and normal given the circumstance. 

    What about the people that say, “You can’t do that. I’m your mom, I’m your dad, I’m your sister, I’m your brother, I’m your child. You have to do this. You’ve got to give me everything I want, and you can never say no.”

     That dear viewer is called a violation of your boundaries. 

    Let’s go a little bit deeper. 

    Why do we set boundaries in the first place?

    It’s to show people that you are worthy of being respected.  You have your own thoughts and feelings, and they are worth being honored. And if those around you do not honor them, it’s okay for you to close that boundary and say, 

    “You’re no longer welcome to come and go as you please. I will put this glass door between us, and when you honor my boundary, I can let you in as far as I want. Otherwise, the door will remain closed.

     So often, this is where the trouble starts. 

    Clients often say, “I can’t set a boundary with my mom. She gave birth to me. She gave me everything. So I will do anything she asks of me.”

     Well, what if your mom says something like “Honey, I need you to come over right now, and you’re like, well, mom, I’ve got my own family to take care of.”

    She responds, “I don’t care. You’re supposed to come here right now. Don’t you remember I gave birth to you? I gave you life. You owe me everything.”

     What do you do then? 

    That’s when it gets tricky. 

    Do you have permission to set boundaries? 

    What boundaries have you set? 

    Were they honored, or were they violated? 

    How did you respond when they were broken? 

    Did you close up and say, you know it’s okay. It’s just my mom; she can do whatever she wants, and I can’t say no. Or do you say that’s not okay, Mom. I have my own family. I have left and cleaved to my husband and my children; I don’t have to come at your beck and call.

    That’s quite complicated, huh? 

    There’s this sense of, I’m going to be the bad guy, and I’m going to dishonor my parents, and if I dishonor my parents, I’m going to go to hell. 

    Well, before God said to honor your father and mother in the 10 Commandments, He said “[Spouses] leave your parents and cleave to your wife, and the two shall become one.”

     Are you able to speak up for yourself like that? Let me know!