Tool For Tuesday: Mark Your Boundaries.



You are you and they are they.

Sometimes, we don’t know where we end and the people we love begin. We want to help people but sometimes we rob them of the failures that they need in order to grow and change.

We want other people to help us. Then we need to remind ourselves that if we don’t learn to rescue ourselves, we’ll keep staying stuck.

We need boundaries between us and the people we love. A kind reader pointed out to me that boundaries help us like the people we love. Without boundaries, we sometimes slip into resentments. Why? Because we’re doing too much for others. We’re indulging in savior behavior. We’re focusing on rescuing someone else and then forget about ourselves. Our own needs, our own desires. That’s also known as codependency, something Melody Beattie writes about so well.

Some people trample on our boundaries. They tell us too much. They want us too much. They cry for our help and accuse us of being selfish when we refuse to jump in and do exactly what they want, when they want. Remember, we should not confuse neediness with love.

My friend, Jane, always tells me: We each are given a certain amount of glue to heal ourselves. But we can’t give away our glue to heal or fix someone else. They have their own glue. They have to learn to use it.

Tool for Tuesday: Mark Your Boundaries. Fences make good neighbors. Boundaries make good friends.

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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6 Responses to Tool For Tuesday: Mark Your Boundaries.

  1. juliabarrett says:

    Yes, I guess both literally and figuratively.

  2. The glue metaphor was superb, Diana. During tough times–and life does throw hardballs during tough times, especially with health crises–I don’t see co-dependency as an automatically negative thing. Sometimes we are dependent on one another for moral support, caring and help. It’s repetitive needs and assumptions, the ‘hey, you helped once, and you’re so good at it…’ expectations that move the dependency into the pull-back territory.
    We do learn from our own struggles, and triumphing over them on our own builds confidence.
    Excellent post to start us thinking.

    • dianabletter says:

      Thank you, but I can’t take credit for the glue simile! Your observations are terrific about codependency. Something to think about!

  3. A friend once said that there’s co-dependency, and then there’s co-support. This was after her son lost his spleen in a horrible car accident. It was a long haul recuperation, and he and his wife and twin daughters moved in with his parents for almost 6 months. That was co-support of a young family who desperately needed help for awhile. And as my friend said, that was a survival situation, co-support to survive, which she feels is very different from textbook do-dependency.

    • dianabletter says:

      Of course, Marylin, you make a good point. Supporting our loved ones is different than diving in and trying to live their lives for them or fix them if they can do it themselves. Thanks for pointing it out. Survival is waaaay different than codependency!

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