“When someone oversteps your boundaries, they’re letting you know what you want doesn’t matter.” ~ Phil Good
“I need my space.”
“Please don’t speak to me that way.”
“I’m not comfortable with that, please don’t.”
All of these are statements to set boundaries. Boundaries are a type of self-care that mark borders of acceptable behaviors that are specific to each individual person. What may be a hard “no” for me may be no big deal for you.
Take for instance my “72-hour rule” in regards to visitors (or visiting). I thrive on routine, whether it’s at home or on the road. Whether it’s friends or family, the same rule applies — Seventy-two hours is my time limit before I start to get stressed. My teeth itch. I get cranky because my routine is off. I cannot, for the life of me, relax. I get antsy as fight-or-flight starts to kick in. Not so much that my visitors or the persons I’m visiting are interfering in anyway, but their mere presence is out of the norm. It’s out of the realm of what is normal for me.
When I go home to Missouri, I usually arrive between 8-10 pm on a Friday. I leave between 8-10 am on Monday. That’s 60 hours total — well within the 72-hour limit. Any longer than that and I begin to shut down getting more and more quiet, less animated as time goes on. The feeling of relief when I am in the car headed home is almost palpable. I love my family, I do — but I gotta go. While some may find it amusing or make light of it, it’s a BOUNDARY.
My space is . . . well . . . my space. My OCD tendencies for order and detail are quite acute. Things have a place and an order in which I prefer them. What might seem like a small difference can be utterly distracting for me. Holiday decorations go up slowly in degrees to allow me to get used to their presence and what a relief it is when they come down. Again, my teeth start to itch and I get anxious. The repetitive actions of my routines are soothing and while I appreciate offers of help, I need the routine to stay calm.
How do I work in an ever-changing environment? My shifts are 12-hours and then I come home and rest between them — in my space. Even at work, I have routines that I follow.
What if my family wants to come visit for a week? They’ll need to get a hotel room and find things to do on their own to give me a break and some time to rest in my own company.
Do I ever go out to friend’s houses for dinner? Yes, but there is a set time to be there and a set time to leave. Again, there are boundaries which give me a time frame to shoot for to return home.
How do you relax and have fun if you can’t do anything? I relax at home, in my home, in my own company. Social gatherings are extremely stressful for me. I would rather opt for a root canal.
Well, you’ll miss it when you’re an empty nester and your kids are gone! No, no I won’t miss a thing. Peace and quiet. Solitude.