One of the many things I wish I had known or handled differently in the wake of D-day… i hope it helps those struggling to help themselves.
Boundaries define limits, mark off dividing lines and declare your values. The purposes of boundaries can be boundless. However, from my experience as a BS and a reader of SI, I have found that a boundary is to make clear healthy personal interactions and expectations. To differentiate between how we as codependent spouses differentiate the healthy relationship behaviors from the abusive territory. The purpose of having boundaries is to protect and take care of ourselves. We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us. A first step is starting to realize that we have a right to protect and defend ourselves. We are not codependent to the issues of the WS. We have not only the right, but the obligation to care for ourselves in the wake of this trauma, to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us, specifically the WS.
We BS’s need to start by becoming aware of what healthy behavior’s and acceptable interaction dynamics look like and demand them from our WS’s. This starts by learning how to be emotionally honest with ourselves, how to start owing our feelings, and then to communicate them in a direct and honest manner with the WS. Setting personal boundaries is vital part of any healthy relationship and is not possible without direct communication.
In order to accomplish this we need to learn to do is drop the codependency, many BS’s tend to be codependent in times of crisis. We BS’s attempt to hold on to notions of what we have always believed our spouses and marriages to be. As I have read from many veterans here, that marriage is dead. If it’s a corpse we need to not be codependent to its value. I need to learn to focus on seeing myself as separate from my marriage and WS in order to try to protect myself and look at what was healthy for me. The purpose of setting boundaries is to take care of ourselves. It’s about learning about ourselves, of learning to respect ourselves, of learning to love ourselves. If we never have to set a boundary, then we will never get in touch with who we really are, we will never escape the enmeshment of codependence and learn to define what is healthy for ourselves.
No one deserves to be treated abusively. No one deserves to be lied to and betrayed.
We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. If we do not respect ourselves, if we do not start awakening to our right to be treated with respect and dignity (and our responsibility in creating that in our lives) then we will continue to be more comfortable being involved with WS’s who abuse us than expecting our WS to treat us in loving ways. On some level, the emotions of D-day drive our codependence; we are more comfortable with being abused than being treated in a loving way. This usually is due to us are holding on to faulty views of ourselves, our marriages, our WS’s. Learning to set boundaries is vital to protecting ourselves, and to communicating to our WS’s that we have worth.
The blameshifting, gaslighting games all center and prey on this codependence. In fact the WS’s often think of boundary setting as threats when they are in the fog. Setting a boundary is not making a threat; it is communicating clearly what the consequences will be if the other person continues to treat us in an unacceptable manner. It is a consequence of the WS’s behavior. Setting a boundary is not an attempt to control the WS’s behavior, in contrast it is a part of the process of defining ourselves and what is acceptable to us. It is a major step in taking control of how we allow others to treat us. It is a vital step in taking responsibility for ourselves and our lives.
We as BS’s need to find the strength to let go of the outcome when we set a boundary with our WS’s. It’s the WS’s decision to engage us in a healthy way. They decide with their behavior if they can treat us in a healthy way. Too often we want the other person to change their behavior, we hope they will, but we never directly tell them because we are afraid of the ultimate outcome. But we need to own our barriers in order to empower ourselves to take responsibility for our lives and stop setting ourselves up to be the victim. We need to really consider the choices we have, one may be to remove ourselves from relationship with the person. We CAN leave a marriage. It is vitally important to honor all of our choices and explore all options. If we do not honor that we have a choice to leave an abusive relationship - then we are not making a CHOICE to stay in the relationship we empowering victimization and codependency
Often I see other BS’s struggling with drawing boundaries in similar places, it’s a struggle things like:
• No Contact! Absolutely none.
• No more "just friends" of the opposite sex.
• All secret email accounts deleted with NC emails sent out.
• No more cleared browser histories on computer.
• Complete transparency in all things.
• Any friends that are not friends of the M and our R need to go immediately.
These boundaries make sense but we often fail even if we identify them. This is because we don’t think about the other side of the boundary issue, CONSEQUENCES. Personal boundaries NEED consequences, otherwise they are not true boundaries. Consequences are the outcomes of a person’s behaviors. By their nature, they gauge the relative value of the behavior, because we as humans strive for positive outcomes or consequences. When dealing with boundaries with your WS, we as BS’s have the power to determine the consequences; we get to decide what is acceptable and what we will allow as a result of the behavioral choices made by our WS’s. These choices are never easy, but once made they need to be fairly static, and need to be communicated effectively so both parties are clear as to the boundary and consequence. You need to be clear about your expectations , for me we wrote a marital contract and put it on paper, I wrote them down and discussed each with my WS.
Not all consequences need to be dire, all WS’s will make mistakes in Reconciliation, if everything is a deal breaker then your doomed to failure. Your WS didn’t get in this predicament in a day, there are years of learned behaviors and coping mechanisms that need to be discovered and unwound. While discussing the marital contract you can discuss your values, why you have particular deal breakers and what messages are sent when violations occur. This helps you communicate to your WS your values, and the fact that your values are important to bonding you back to this Marriage.
Lastly and certainly the hardest for me was to Detach! Every time I logged on I would read from Wincing, Crossbow and the like making this statement. Make sure once you have identified boundaries, communicated them and the consequences than you have to divorce yourself from the behaviors and decisions’ of your spouse. They control their behavior and you control yours. You enforce your boundaries, they decide with their actions if they want the relationship. For some of us, me included this can be the hardest part. I hope this helps someone avoid learning this quicker than I did, I think it would have saved me months of Trickle Truth, or Trickle Torture. Being 6 months into this journey I think had I learned this piece earlier I would have dealt with the aftermath of D-Day differently.