The Fear of Setting Personal BoundariesBy
“Drawing boundaries is one of the hardest things that we do. We are so afraid of the consequences of standing up to a controller in our lives. I was afraid that if I stood up to my mom, I would never get the diamond dinner ring that she promised would be mine. I realize that this sounds really “off” to me today.” Darlene Ouimet
That was the comment that I posted on the facebook page for this blog yesterday and it generated a fantastic discussion, so here is the long version of it. I was so afraid of my Mother but if you had asked me why, I could not have come up with an answer but lets just say that our mother daughter relationship was one sided at the best of times.
I didn’t give much conscious thought to why I let people walk all over me. I had these fears that I didn’t totally understand about what would happen if I told my mother that I was sick of her pushing me around. She had this diamond dinner ring that she had made for herself after my parents divorced. It was made out of the diamonds from her weddings rings from my father. I loved it for its sentimental value, something left over from their marriage, and it was a beautiful ring too and my mother promised me that it would be mine one day.
When my mother re-married I hoped that she would give me the ring, but instead she kind of dangled it in front of me for the next 16 years or so. I didn’t think much about it, until one day when I was visiting her and we were sitting on her bed looking through her jewellery box. The ring was in there. She hadn’t worn it for years but she still didn’t want me to have it. I tried it on; it was such a pretty ring, and it fit me just right. After a few minutes, I put it back in the jewellery box, but my mother didn’t notice. She started frantically looking around. She looked at my pockets; I am guessing to see if I had snuck it into my pocket when she wasn’t looking. She looked all around the bed and floor and since I realized that she thought I had taken the ring, I just sat there stunned, not saying a word. Finally she looked at me and in a stormy voice she asked “Darlene, where is MY ring?” I told her it was in her jewellery box. Before she even looked in the box she demanded “WHERE?”
Something in me snapped that day. She knew I wanted that ring, and she used it against me, but now she was willing to think that I might steal it to get it! I was hurt but I was disgusted too. She had no reason to think that I might just take it. I have never done anything like that! I would have understood if she wanted to keep the ring for her own sentimental reason, but to taunt me with it, and then accuse me of stealing it was just too much. I vowed that I would never want that darn ring again.
So it was interesting when she gave it to me for my birthday a year or so later. Why did she decide to give me the ring then? I had finally decided that I didn’t want it. Could it be that the ring didn’t serve her purpose anymore and that the ring no longer had any power over me?
By then I was in therapy and well into what I call in my head “the real process of recovery”. I remember opening the gift box and thinking my first thought which was “OH MY GOSH she finally gave me THE RING”… and my second thought “well you just gave me the only “thing” I ever wanted… now what are you going to hang over my head?” At some level this thought proved that I knew her motives with regards to that ring.
I had some weird feelings when I got that ring and although I wore if for a few months, I have trouble wearing it anymore because it reminds me of how many years that I put up with people having control over me and how I took it. It reminds me of how my own mother treated me like I was inconsequential. It reminds me that her illusions of being a fantastic loving mother are more important to her then I am! In my new healthy mindset that sounds WRONG to me on so many levels.
I don’t think this was just about a ring. I think the ring was just a symbol of the real fear, which was that if I stood up to my mother, she would remove herself from my life and for most of my life I was pretty sure that I did not want to risk that consequence.
This is just one small example of the thoughts and the fear of abandonment that I harboured below the surface. I hope that you can relate in some way to this story and please feel free to share one of your own.
Exposing truth one snapshot at a time;