I Have Never Once Been Sorry (about setting boundaries)

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“I know my boundaries and one day I might just enforce them.” Unknown

I curled up under the blanket on our living room sofa and ate Reese’s Cups while mulling over what went wrong.

The conversation with John was okay until we each made a comment the other one didn’t like. I took something he said the wrong way. I apologized for my tone, and I also wanted to clarify and have him understand.

His pain and anger about our interchange made it impossible to discuss what happened for the rest of the weekend.

We stopped talking about the topic and started talking about each other. We blamed, brought up the past, and, at one point, forgot what we were arguing about.

Since I recently wrote about enabling and boundaries, I sat still while John went to bed without saying good night and without asking if I wanted to pray. I can’t remember the last time he’s done that. I felt shaken and scared, but I didn’t snap.

I messaged a friend who I knew would listen and be compassionate towards both of us. She suggested leaving him alone for the evening instead of barging into our bedroom to fix us. She agreed it was a bad idea to revert back 10 years to habits like begging him to talk or explaining louder and with examples like, “How would you like it if I went to bed without saying good night to you?”

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T
he latter made so much sense, I may have said it anyway had I not remembered advice from another friend, “I’ve often regretted not setting a boundary, but I have never once been sorry when I set one.”

The soundness of her words stopped my feet in their tracks (they were headed to our bedroom). It calmed the dialogue I had going on ever since John closed our bedroom door. With all those voices in my head, I’m not sure why I needed to talk to him anyway.

I thought, What if he dies tonight and this weekend of arguing is the last memory I have?

This is my mom’s voice of fear and guilt, which I’ve let control me since childhood. I’ve learned to quiet her and her fears after almost three years of her being gone. (a boundary)

What if I’m wrong and responsible for this weekend’s entire debacle?

This is John’s voice when he is frustrated and hurt. I’ve learned to reason with him (his voice in my head better than him in person) and resolve I’m not all wrong. (a boundary)

What would it hurt to follow him into the bedroom, apologize again, and curl up there instead of the sofa?

This is my toxic Jiminy Cricket’s voice saying I SHOULD be able to fix everything. And, let me tell you, when I start shaming myself and saying things like “What would it hurt …,” I hurt myself by not setting boundaries, especially when I know he is momentarily unavailable. (a boundary)

“Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we’re supposed to be. And it’s a straight-jacket.” Brene Brown

Instead of giving into John’s frustration and my fear and shame, I set boundaries I may have disregarded had I not been writing to y’all. 

#GettingYourOwnLife
#WhileLovingthePeopleinIt
#WhileLovingtheHusbandinIt

Are you determined to set boundaries, but you haven’t yet? I highly recommend them.

Thanks to John for encouraging me to blog about our stories, and for blogging with me through our relationship and life. Thanks to my friend for hanging in there late into the evening and advising me well. Thanks to you, our friends/readers. I hope you find here both courage and ‘couragement. You’ve certainly given both to me.

We love your comments! Thank you.

In This Together,
Kim

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11 responses »

  1. This is incredible. Knowing you it’s almost too hard to read, and now I finally understand why people who know me personally have a hard time with some of my “confessional” pieces.

    I have a hard time with boundaries as you describe them because I hate arguing (but am so good at it) and always want to fix everything immediately. I’ve been called “I’m sorry” because I do it so much, though that’s changing.

    And what if he dies tonight? Yes, I so get that! My rational for half of life.

    Thanks for making me think

    • Thank you back, Pia. Your comment makes me think.

      It is hard to read, isn’t it? I get what you’re saying. It’s hard for me to write and read because I have a Cinderella wish in my head. I want my life and everyone else’s wrapped up with Prince Charming and a glass slipper. I have trouble not ending every blog post with happily ever after. I mean, I sort of do, but I want it to be an ending like we made up, kissed, and we’ve vowed to never speak another unkind word. Of course, my blog would be only one post like Cinderella is only one very short book. 🙂

      I could have written your second paragraph. That’s me. Our granddaughter says “I’m sorry” a lot. When I asked my daughter why she thought that was, she said, “Probably you and me.”

      I grew up hearing don’t set boundaries or you’ll be sorry. No wonder I never set them. And now I’m sorry and suffering because of that. And fixing it.

      Happy to be among many friends like you, cheering on each other’s progress. ❤

  2. We argue just like that too, especially now since we are both retired and together 24/7. One boundary we set is no one sleeps in another room. We still go to bed together and we end of snuggling sometime during the night. Of course, we probably each worry about that pillow over the face!

    • Hahahaha, Ruby. Worrying about that pillow. Yeah, John sleeps with one eye open after an argument. 🙂

      That is such a loving boundary to sleep together and snuggle, Ruby. We used to live by that one, also, until I got to be a much lighter sleeper and John’s snoring ran me out of the room more than once. We at least try to start out sleeping together. ❤ Well, not this particular night, but almost always.

  3. Kim, I enjoyed reading this even though I don’t quite relate to the example in your post (and that’s OK). I learned early in our marriage to “let sleeping dogs lie” so to speak. If he wants to retreat to a room or wherever and stew for a while, I just let it go until the next morning when he’s more inclined to listen and when I’m more inclined to be rational. I think the time-outs have helped both of us. Our relationship keeps evolving over the 40 years we’ve been married. We’ve probably spent more time together since he became ill, and the illness itself changed how we deal with issues. It’s hard to describe until you’re in the thick of it. Anyway, as always, I’m grateful for your willingness to be real and the lessons you teach through your vulnerability.

    • Mary, I feel the same way about your blog posts, the stories you share, and your vulnerability. I learn from you and always come away from your writing with something to think about. John and I have also evolved (that’s a good word to describe our lives), especially in the last 10 years. They have been our most painful and our most productive … funny how that works, isn’t it? As always, I look forward to your next post.

  4. I found in my marital relationship, that I would always want to talk things out. Maybe not right in the “heat of the moment” -but after we “slept on it”. Communication is key, and has to be on behalf of both. I always said I am not a mind reader.
    Setting boundaries is important too. Not doing so, can destroy a relationship. I know it all too well. We, as women, wives, and mothers, can not bear all the burdens and outcomes of the challenges we deal with. It is still taking me time to realize that.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Sylvia, thanks for your comment. ❤

      We "can not bear all the burdens and outcomes" – this is more truth than I could deal with at one time, so I didn't. However, ignoring the truth didn't make it easier and it didn't make it untrue. I think you probably know what I'm talking about more than some. Sometimes we do everything we can and it's not enough because "they" (whoever they are) still have free will and they make choices we don't like and don't understand. Crazy choices. Unkind choices. Hurtful choices. That's always been hard for me to accept. I still think if I do enough … BUT it’s not true. I know you know this all too well. ❤ You've helped me accept this more than you know.

  5. From Facebook (Kim Henson) ~

    Connie Gardner, Gayle Sloan and 16 others

    4 shares: Pia Savage, Mary Ann Zumpfe (1 like), Sylvia Jones, Shelly Farrington (1 like)

    Sybil Lee Most of the time I didn’t even know what a boundary was.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 5:51am

    Kim Henson I didn’t know either, Sybil Lee … until a counselor told me I didn’t have any. 😉
    Like · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 1:32pm

    Pia Savage Wow. Just. Wow.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 9:07am

    Kim Henson “Wow” like this, Pia Savage?
    Like · Reply · May 26 at 1:33pm · Edited

    Kim Henson Hahaha. I’ve been wanting to share this. 🙂

    Kim Henson’s photo.
    Like · Reply · 2 · May 26 at 1:33pm

    Kim Henson Thanks for reading!
    Like · Reply · May 26 at 1:34pm

    Pia Savage Wow like that. Yes!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 2:06pm

    Kim Henson Pia Savage, I thought so. LoL.
    Like · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 2:23pm

    Christy Young I love that you share your real life stories. They are so relatable. Thank you so much.
    I agree that I have not been sorry for setting a boundary.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 10:10am

    Kim Henson Thanks bunches, Christy Young. One of these days it’s going to get easier to share, but, for now, just happy I’m doing it. 😀 I appreciate your encouragement.
    Like · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 1:35pm

    Ruby Sessions Hart The boundary needs to be: men need to know when to stop talking. : )
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 11:28am

    Kim Henson Hahahaha, Ruby Sessions Hart. You said it! Will you write a guest post? 🙂
    Like · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 1:35pm

    Ruby Sessions Hart Sure! I could certainly add my experiences!! Lol!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 6:12pm

    Kim Henson Ruby Sessions Hart, this is probably a really good idea. We all need to hear from each other. (y)
    Like · Reply · May 31 at 12:16am

    Kim Henson Jean Steen, I got your message (from John) and I behaved all weekend until we were almost home. You’d be proud of me. 😉
    Like · Reply · 1 · May 31 at 3:00am · Edited

  6. From Facebook (Pia Savage’s page) ~

    I met Kim before I ever read her blog, and I know John just a bit. Reading her blog is always a wonderful experience but sometimes I feel as if I’m intruding in somebody I know’s life. This post is one of them. But it started me thinking, boy did it start me thinking!
    Show Attachment

    You, Christy Young and 2 others

    Christy Young She’s good at that, isn’t she?
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 10:23am

    Kim Henson Thank you. 😉
    Like · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 1:36pm

    Kim Henson Thank you for sharing, Pia Savage. You’re a dear friend and a writer I greatly respect. ❤ I wish someone had intruded AND intervened long ago. I wanted someone else to do what writing seems to be doing now … fix me.
    Like · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 1:42pm

    Pia Savage Writing tends to do that. And back to you ❤
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · May 26 at 2:04pm

    Kim Henson It sure does.
    Like · Reply · May 31 at 12:18am

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