This is another big topic for me—namely because I haven’t ever known when to leave. I’ve always felt out of place in my life, like my timing is off. I was born generations after my siblings so I grew up relatively alone. I never got along with many people my age (stories to come on that) and I have always pushed for the next thing. I wasn’t raised to recognize when things weren’t healthy or when they no longer served. I was raised to do as I was told and to stick it out. I was the kind of person who showed up to work sick as a dog and ended up in the ER because I didn’t think I was allowed to call out sick. I left that job on a Friday and my boss gave his notice the following Monday.
My judgement was always off and I took jobs that weren’t for me, I settled for less than I deserved just so I could be accepted, I stayed in relationships with people who weren’t right for me. And any time I did manage to get out of one of those situations, I hopped so quickly I couldn’t settle to really find the lesson. So I switched between being stuck like a tree stump and acting like a frog, jumping so quickly and so often I couldn’t make sense of what I was doing. I remember I was injured on the job as a massage therapist and arguing with the doctor that I couldn’t go to work because there was someone else to answer the phones he insisted I could handle. Completely unheard, I had no idea how to react.
This man clearly didn’t understand the dynamics of what I did for a living and I had no words to describe my frustration. I walked out numb, knowing my job didn’t have anything for me because they already had receptionists, and that I couldn’t perform my work. I ended up staying home for a month, hiding and alone.
After that I knew I couldn’t let anyone dictate what I did with my life (or my body) ever again. You do not get to take a glance at me and assume you know what I am capable of. And you do not get to push me beyond my limits. That is the truth for all of us: no one gets to demand anything of us beyond common decency. I’m not the best at this but I am smart enough to know that this is something vital in life. It’s not just the act of leaving—it’s the act of setting the boundary. Setting and maintaining that boundary is love. Having enough self-awareness to say something isn’t working or it goes against your values is key because THAT is how you know to leave. It’s fine to apply this to everything—work, relationships, events. If it isn’t something that resonates with your core values then it’s time to cut it loose.
We are often taught that boundaries are selfish. Get that shit out of your head, pronto. I’m speaking from the position of being a doormat for too long. Learning this if you have never done it before or if you have old beliefs engrained is challenging. It requires you to step out of your comfort zone and maybe even piss off some people. No one can ever know us as well as we know ourselves and no one will look out for us as well as we know ourselves so we are the only ones who can say what is good for us.
The only reason the timing was ever off in my life is because I didn’t set my boundaries. I met other people’s needs and had the expectation they would meet mine in return. I made mistakes as a child and cut out the people who should have been in my life and I held on to every mistake as a character trait instead of a lesson. All that got me was running circles. So, I have learned to set the damn boundaries. I make sure I work on my stuff every night. I leave work on time every day. I spend time with my son. I meal prep. And the boundaries are coming in stronger. A promise I make to myself is to continue setting those boundaries and to leave when it no longer serves.