Setting Boundaries

I write the following not to air all my problems to annoy others, but to hopefully help someone else who may be experiencing something similar.



Draw the line
I am learning about setting boundaries recently. This is a difficult step for me, as I like people to like me, so find it hard to say no...anyone else identify?
In the last little while I have been realising how setting boundaries is actually more helpful for others, because they get more of an idea of how much I can do.
I think this is all part of deciding to be more up front about my Aspergers, and the overload issues it brings.
In the past I've managed to cover it all up and pretend to be the same as everyone else. For a long time I managed it. But it seems lately, perhaps with the lower energy of age, I haven't been able to fake it like in the past. I've been suddenly becoming overwhelmed in situations I once managed in. This is quite difficult to discover, that I have to do less, and ask for more help.

I am the person who likes to dig in and work, and work, and work! I like to help and become deeply connected to projects I embark on. Now, I struggle to start, not knowing how much energy I will have at my disposal, and how much I can trust myself not to have a meltdown in public. This has happened, multiple times in the past.

New strategies
So my new strategy has been to go on a low dose of antidepressants, which seems to be giving me more of a coping window. I also have found aids like weighted blankets which help to calm my highly agitated system. I now alert people like Drs early in a consultation that I may suddenly get overwhelmed, and what form that will take. It seems that by announcing my difficulties I relax into the session, and so far have not melted down...which is amazing, as this was one of the more common places before.

Friends
So, back to boundaries. I recently sent out a letter to my closer friends asking their pardon for not contacting them recently, in letter or text etc. I said it was because I need my limited energy for day to day tasks, writing this blog which is giving me so much joy, and occasional musical sessions like teaching singing. This makes me feel highly uncomfortable, but I've realised that in the long run it's better for me. I hope my friends understand, and that I will work out ways to keep in touch which my energy resources allow.

Family time
I'm learning in family time, to ask for help from my kids, or say sorry I can't do the dishes, or I need some time out, without the searing guilt I have felt before. I am very good at guilt I've discovered, and it really is only self manufactured. So I throw it away.
I have decided not to apologise for needing these accommodations, as I would before. I didn't ask for this disability, so it's not my fault, so therefore I have nothing to apologise or feel guilty for!

I am concerned my kids growing up with a disabled parent will feel unsupported, with a sense of vertigo. I don't like that they see me fall apart. That sometimes I am in tears in situations that to the casual glance doesn't warrant it.
I hope they are learning skills around supporting the weaker, and caring for others.

I am glad that they know my struggle, that my brain sometimes shuts up shop. And very occasionally I see them looking at me for understanding when they go through similar instances. A feeling of kindred spirits.
For this I am grateful, that I have an insider viewpoint and understanding in these tricky times.

Self talk
I won't allow any more negative self talk about how lazy or weak or tense or afraid etc. etc. I am. I am drawing boundaries around my self talk as well. I think this might be the hardest fight of all, because it's where it all stems from!
So this is my current coalface. Maybe in time, I will be proud of myself as well!


8 comments:

  1. I hope you do feel proud of how you are managing your difficulties, because it takes work and courage and determination to do these things. Good luck, I hope you find the strategies you have set out are helpful. And I do think that being honest and upfront about our struggles can only ever be a good thing. xxx

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  2. You are an inspiration. I hope you do feel proud of yourself, methodically and thoughtfully working through your difficulties like you have been doing. xxx

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  3. You are so sweet to share your true self. I get so much from your artistically visual and verbal blog. It gives me joy too!
    I think it's very brave of you to communicate your limits with your friends. To be honest I don't pursue friendships because I am overwhelmed reaching beyond my door, or beyond the demands of family and my art work and necessary down time. Sometimes I wonder and ask myself if I am lonely without friends, but the fact is, no, I don't really feel I'm missing anything. I keep a few close to me in my family and other than that the rest of my energy is spent doing a few things for myself. That's all I can do.
    Being positive goes along with Shawna's post today and I have to use a lot of discipline to keep positive. I have some physical handicaps that people can't see underneath all the clothing I hide under and it can zap my positivity daily if I let it.
    I think these blogs are a great place to support each other without the risk of being shunned.
    I applaud you for putting yourself out there and being honest.

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    1. Being positive does take a lot of discipline for me too. I am a naturally detailed person which seems to go along with pessimism.
      I'm so glad you are getting joy from my blog. I really want to reach into people's lives without too much pressure and present something beautiful to give them joy. Especially if they are struggling a little like you.
      I get joy from your comments and your artworks(which includes your recent sewing)!
      Thanks for your support. xo JJ

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  4. Thank you for sharing in such a deep way. You have entrusted us all with the gift of yourself which is very precious. Your insights and strategies are helpful too. It has taken a lot of hard work to come to that point. You are very courageous and we are so proud of you. It's lovely seeing Curtsie , Vix & Joni's comments too. D&M xxxx

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  5. Well said, Jack! Yes, I do relate to much of this and have been using similar coping mechanisms for some time. Decades in fact but it is still a long and slow process for me to accept myself and my limitations. I have difficulty asking for help but in the past few years I had to ask. I lived alone and become 85% bedridden for a few months. My mum came by and did my laundry, bought me food and often also cooked it. I rarely ask friends for help but sometimes if I am going somewhere with a friend I ask to be picked up because I am not good for driving on some days. Like Joni, I mostly keep to myself and prefer a very small number of really good friends. I do not have the energy for a social circle and as an introvert I am just fine with that. I know that the friends I have understand and support me because they are still here and have not given up on me, despite my long disappearances, the fact that I never phone anybody and my status as an unmarried woman in a peer group of marrieds.

    I too have had meltdowns though am perhaps able to control them a bit more than you are so that they will happen in a slightly private setting, perhaps one on one. My illness is neurological and my brain sometimes just cannot cope with the input. For me there is usually a great deal of shame at suddenly not being able to add 2+2.

    Like you, I want to reach out to people who may be experiencing the same or similar things and to say, hey we can get through this. We can survive and we can thrive. I am so glad I found you here in internet land. I cannot remember how I found you, but I shall pretend it was due to my great skill and wisdom.
    xoxo

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  6. You are an example to us all.
    I am glad to know you better and having you as part of my life through the bloggospere.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  7. JJ - you´r a brave one! setting boundaries is a hard task - for us "soft women". what you wrote about sounds very logic to me. i´m on a akin mission myself and i have to redraw my boundaries every other day. i use to forget them and then i find myself in unwanted situations.......
    don´t fear for your kids - honesty is always the best!
    xxxx

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If a topic has special significance for you, or touches you in some way, I'd love to hear your story! I will return the favour and we will gently touch hands across the miles...or kilometres :-)