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How do I work on boundaries when I have none?

(5 Posts)
AmyAmoeba Fri 29-Jan-16 12:35:56

This is my first time posting after Jeffrey. I wasn't going to join up again but hey ho!
I've been mulling over relationship patterns in my life and until recently I had a narrative structure of pre-DH and post-DH. before Dh I had a succession of relationships with men that were not to my benefit. Then I met wonderful DH and had a (mostly) happy ever after.
Except I was thinking through those relationships and it dawned on me that the common thread, which is my behaviour, hasn't changed much and that the problems that DH and I have now come back to this element of me.
Sorry, I don't think I can explain this clearly without being long winded.
My dad was very controlling; his way or else kind of person.
As a teen I was groomed by a middle aged man. Nothing criminal occurred but it took a toll on me. I lost faith in myself, very ashamed of being taken for a fool, I could never trust anyone completely ever again etc. Hard to express it without sounding OTT. I wasn't a complete idiot but he had a way of pushing and nudging me into intimate discussions and hugging and touching in ways that weren't appropriate but made me feel in the wrong for not being comfortable iyswim
It was ages before I was ready for a relationship. Eventually at the grand old age of 21 I had my first proper boyfriend, except I just wanted a friendship (had known him years). He was another touchy feely type who kept crossing lines. I was worrying about how/where to draw the line without losing the friendship when I realised the line was well and truly crossed and I was very self conscious about not having been in a relationship that it seemed easier to just go with the flow. Got drunk (for courage) and let him have sex and never saw him again --as he got married the following week and had neglected to mention he was engaged--obviously friendship wasn't worth anything to him. So another example of my total misjudgement and inability to read people.
Bad date a couple of years after. I don't know what to call it. Date rape seems too strong but basically sex I didn't want. Again the same pattern of me saying no but being pushed and nudged a bit more and a bit more. We were meant to go out, but he was broke and "too proud" to let me pay and invited me back to his flat one room poky bed sit for a chat, nothing more ...arm around me...nuzzling...just a cuddle...just...just until I was trapped under him. Not worth writing about. Probably worst part was that he seemed to have no idea what he had done or why I wouldn't return his calls or texts. It's a strange limbo to be hurt but essentially voiceless because in the other persons mind nothing happened.
There's other stuff too, but cutting a long story short: met DH, fell in love, got married. He's not perfect who is? but really a wonderful person. Kind, considerate, decent feeling compelled to paint a good picture. I feel a bit like I've been sleepwalking for the last few years and I suppose I have as youngest still gets up in the night. But in the last year there have been a couple of issues that I'm now looking back on, that are sort of standing out like red flags. I don't mean red flags about DH, but more about where our relationship is headed if I keep going on as I have been.
Without going into too much detail, he asked me to do something that I was adamantly opposed to doing, that I knew would be a bad idea, that I had strong reasons for not doing. We did a lot of talking, we shared our POVs, I relented and considered it, I relented and agreed to do it, my anxiety levels shot through the roof, I did it and it was exactly as I had first thought. BUT If I could rewind time and go back I'd probably get talked into doing it again. I know that flags something really wrong in my sense of priorities.
And I'm starting to wake up and notice that this happens a lot, in smaller ways between us; we never row. We have calm discussions but it seems to me that a lot of the time I get talked around to doing things his way.
The weird thing is that I doubt he would consider me a pushover. In my head I fight my corner and I'm articulate but in most things I give way. Not in everything: I probably get my way in about 90% of decisions relating to the children.
I'm trying to figure out why. I care about his POV obviously, and I find it very very difficult to put my needs/feelings/desires ahead of his. Even when I should. I feel as if his desires/ feelings etc are somehow more valid than mine, and it's almost as if I end up trying to switch myself off at times.
I don't know what it is I'm asking for here exactly. When I look back over some of those key instances in my life, I think how different it would have been if I'd been stronger, or thought more of myself and not allowed the other person push me along.
And I keep hearing about BOUNDARIES but right now it feels to me like it's not that I have weak boundaries but that I don't have any at all.
Can anyone relate?

hellsbellsmelons Fri 29-Jan-16 14:02:43

From a young age you have been abused.
This is something you need to realise and face up to.
I'd start with Womens Aid. Talk to them and see if their Freedom Programme would benefit you at all.
Then I'd go to my GP and talk it all through and get a referal for some counselling.
Then I'd get onto Rape Crisis and ask for their support with your early experience and also the date you mention. None of this is OK.
You have been conditioned to accept this and you need some help to see that these things are NOT to be brushed under the carpet.
You need to tackle them and get some help to overcome them.
I would just straight up tell someone to fuck off in these situations but you don't and there will be reasons for this.
WA, GP, RC and some counselling to tackle everything.
I'm sorry you've had a shit time of things.

Longwindingroad Fri 29-Jan-16 14:24:41

The first step to having boundaries is valuing yourself. Hard when you have been treated badly, but also a decision we can make as we grow older and realise that the shit other people do to us has very little to do with us and a lot to do with them.

So start with loving yourself in a very active way. Treat yourself as you would a very treasured friend or partner.. Talk to yourself nicely, buy yourself nice things, do things you enjoy.

Another great way to build self esteem is to do things you are proud of. Achieve things (even small things like cleaning out the freezer) to make yourself feel good about who you are. Volunteer. Do a course. Get a haircut. Dress nicely. Spend time with people who value you. Read lots of self help books and visit "Baggage Reclaim" blog and read and read and read.

It all has a knock on effect and after six months or so of actively doing that you will value yourself more.

Once you value yourself, you then hve a price tag, and you - as well as others- will respect whatever price tag you place on yourself.

This is where boundaries come from.

Having none means we have a very low price tag on ourselves.

Then start with the basics. The basic requirements and needs you have from someone else in order to feel happy and have the confidence to not accept any less.

I assure you, despite your background of abuse, you are every bit as valuable as anyone else and when you can see that, you will create these boundaries in a way that comes very naturally.

In your shoes I would make 2016 a year of discovery of YOU.

RickOShay Fri 29-Jan-16 20:31:56

Longwinding road that is a beautiful post. Thank you.

AmyAmoeba Fri 29-Jan-16 22:05:20

Thanks for your replies. Very thought provoking. Both different perspectives and paths to consider. Or different aspects that I need to address.

Hellsbellsmelons, I'm struggling a little with what you've said. It makes sense but it feels like you're talking about someone else not me. Rape and abuse seem such strong terms and in one way I know you're right but in another I can't quite grasp what you mean. The idea of ringing RC or WA seems, I don't know exactly, inappropriate maybe? Other people have such truly awful things to deal with and I think I'd feel like a time waster whinging about things that hardly even happened, taking time from someone who needs it. I feel as if my head is splitting in two! I can objectively agree with you if I forget that the OP is actually me but once I put myself in the frame, it all seems too little to take seriously. I need to read over what you've said a couple of times and try to take it in.

Long winding, that's given me a lot to think about too. I think I could try some of that. Loving myself in an active way. Sometimes I find myself resenting DH for not loving me enough, not caring enough...but I know, at the same time, that I'm not being remotely fair in those expectations. So yes, maybe I could start by stepping into that gap and loving myself a bit more. that could be a start.

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