This past week has been a week. I mean a real doozy. And for the first time ever, a boundary I had created and set a while back was put to the truest of tests. I would be facing the death of my mother.
Are you having a difficult time with a particular
person or situation in life?
Do you keep letting the same drama suck you in
over and over again?
If so, you are in desperate need of establishing some boundaries.
So… what exactly is a personal boundary?
Boundaries can be thought of as guidelines or rules that we consciously create to establish what is allowable or not allowable in our lives. Simply put, we create them when we take notice of our likes and dislikes about the world around us. We make a mental note about how something or someone makes us think, feel, and react. Then we decide whether or not we have a tolerance for it.
Boundaries are often developed on an unconscious level as well. But for the sake of this article, let’s talk about choosing to make a distinct personal boundary. In this case, to protect inner peace.
Years ago, we watched my godmother and aunt suffer and die from liver cirrhosis. This is the unfortunate price some will pay for a lifetime of being an alcoholic. It was torture for her and torture for those at her bedside. We had all hoped that my mother, who had a front row seat for weeks, would make some massive lifestyle changes in her own life after watching her eldest sister in such pain withering away. It didn’t happen.
I think she may have cut back initially but it didn’t last very long. My mother had spent a lifetime tangoing with self-inflicted demons and alcohol was her solace. She literally knew no other way to be. It made her tons of fun from time to time. But it also made her mean, vicious, and downright unbearable to be around.
I had put up with her alcoholic ways for over 40 years. (More on this in my upcoming book.) Her actions and brutality were now bleeding over into the next generation, her grandchildren, and I had hard choices that had to be made. I decided that it was time for my inner peace to take priority in my life. I vowed that I would not stand by and watch my mother miserably kill herself any longer. I spoke to my mother for what would be the last time. A viscous argument as usual.
Over the course of the next few years, I would hear of her steady decline. Even though she lived just a mile and a half away, we never once ran into one another. I read blogs, books, and did meditations to begin the inner work necessary to forgive her and let her go.
Then, about a month ago, came the phone call from my younger brother. He begged for help and asked for me to step in.
I had to remember my boundary and exactly why I had set it in the first place. I had no idea what a challenge it would be to remind myself that my inner peace must come first. I knew with conviction that I didn’t want to see her in this condition. At this point, she didn’t know who she was or where she was because alcohol induced dementia had already taken over her thoughts and voice.
She dialed my phone several times while I was at work teaching. Something she had not done in nearly four years. Her voicemails were pure gibberish. It was clear she didn’t know who she was calling. On the other end was a confused voice, calm and childlike. Unfamiliar. It wasn’t my mother.
When my brother asked me to go purchase undergarments and clothing as she didn’t have much, I willingly stepped in and had it delivered to the hospital. I would call the nurses station on a regular basis to see what her status was. Not only was she trapped in her mind, but her body suffered terribly as each part began to surrender.
I did not go to see her. I upheld my boundary and stayed true to my word and let my intuition guide me. I had promised myself I would not watch my mother die a self induced death.
So many offered advice. “Are you sure you don’t want to go?” “You may have regrets.” “She is so alone.” And I know their intentions were pure. But I did not feel obligation or duty to her. I felt obligation and duty to myself. My family.
As horrible as the situation was, I feel so proud of myself. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I chose me! Self-love came first and foremost. There are no regrets. I had said good-bye to my mother long ago.
Where in life do you need to set some solid boundaries?
This situation could have played out very differently if I hadn't already given deep thought as to how I was going to handle it when the day finally arrived. Do yourself a favor and take some time to think about blurred lines in your own life that you may need to address. Make a conscious decision about what you are willing to tolerate or not. Many of us don't take time to establish clear boundaries because we don't prioritize our own mental health or express our needs out loud to others.
Putting yourself first is never selfish. It is paramount.