Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. Brene Brown
I have just come back to the UK after my holiday in Montenegro. While on the plane, I finished the fourth book from my Sumer Reading List: The Five Things We Cannot Change and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them by David Richo. It is a more spiritual approach than the other self-help books I have read so far and demands a complete shift in life beliefs. We have to relinquish control over the givens of life in order to be more serene and live without fear and regrets.
The five things he thinks that we cannot change and that we need to accept are:
- Everything changes and ends.
- Things do not always go according to plans.
- Life is not always fair.
- Pain is part of life
- People are not loving and loyal all the time.
Once we accept these givens, we are better ready to cope with the challenges of life as we do not fight a losing battle against events outside of our control, therefore relieving us of unnecessary anguish and anxiety.
I was particularly interested in part five: People Are not Loving and Loyal All the Time. Obviously having had a relationship with a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, this felt close to my heart as there was a constant flow of disloyalty and betrayals throughout the 2 ½ years that I was with him.
After such an experience, it is easy to withdraw from having further relationships as we fear being hurt again but if we draw clear boundaries and we stay firm in implementing them, we can save ourselves from further pain and have a loving relationship with mutual esteem and respect.
People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and emotional manipulators are expert at pushing our boundaries further and further until they are broken and we are left defenceless. Obviously, we are not aware of this as it is happening as it is very surreptitious and we are being continuously gaslighted. Narcissists ask for blind trust but they keep being dishonest and in the end we start accepting more and more until we are left broken with no boundaries and no lines of defence.
David Rico gives a few examples of what we do when we do not have firm boundaries in a relationship. He lists 33 but I have chosen 10 that I think were the most relevant to my experience.
When you give up your boundaries in a relationship you:
- Break commitments with friends because the person so important to you is suddenly available.
- Do not notice how unhappy you are, since enduring is your main concern.
- Do more and more for less and less.
- Make exceptions for this person for things you would not tolerate in anyone else and accept his or her alibis and lies.
- Keep trying to create intimacy with a narcissist.
- Feel hurt and victimised but dare not show anger.
- Act out of compliance, compromise, appeasement.
- Disregard your own intuition for wishful thinking.
- Mostly feel afraid and confused.
- Fear your partner will leave or punish you if you disappoint him or her and cannot imagine or tolerate life without your partner.
Unfortunately I can say that every single item on this list applied to me and they show clear signs of co-dependency, something that I was completely oblivious to. I had never even heard about the term co-dependency until I ended my relationship with him and started reading about Narcissistic Abuse.
There is an excellent video by Kim Saeed on YouTube about setting boundaries in order to avoid getting into another toxic relationship: The Only Two Things you Need to Avoid EVER Attracting Another Narcissist ( see at the end of this post).
I hope that one day I will find someone and be in a mutually loving, caring and respectful relationship. For the time being, I am working on setting my boundaries so I never let myself be exposed to abuse again.