Build the wall – Why emotional boundaries matter

I read this quote the other day by Paul Ferrini. It goes

“Those who have the greatest need to tell others what to do have the least faith in themselves”

Emotional distance is important even if it may seem difficult

 

Okay, story time. My grandmother is a 74 year old woman. A very fascinating story about a human who does not hold any triumphs or trophies to her name but managed to achieve a lot. Her father died the same year she was born in a fire accident. Losing her husband to this tragedy had made her mother reckless, helpless and left with no purpose to live but for her daughter, and for the child inside of her. She then gave birth to another beautiful child, my grandmother’s younger sister.

She had gone through the loss of her husband and was widowed with two daughters. One night she left the child unattended in the cradle. The next morning she woke up to see her infant dead. Drowned in self blame and guilt she decided to end her life as an act of balancing the death of her child. Left alone was my one year old grandmother.

She was married to my grandfather when she was 14. Sixty years, 5 children and 8 grandchildren later she still longs for the love of her mother. She says it crushes her heart to not be able to remember how her father looked like, how soulful her mother sounded like. She grew up listening to stories about them from her grandparents.But one thing that astonishes me the most is her devotion towards family. Yes, I said devotion.

Solitude in childhood can shape our thoughts later in life. Picture Courtesy: “Then they rise” – Spirit Fire Art

Growing up with nothing, the idea of having someone to call family means the world to her. Her mind is wired in such a way that she thinks she owes the people who do the smallest gesture such as helping her cross the road. She remembers the most microscopic details of her encounters with every person she ever met. Somehow, she has lived 74 years of her life constantly thinking about whom to fix it for next. The ‘fixer’ in her forced her to believe that the sole purpose of her life was to make the lives of her loved ones, strangers who impacted in the slightest way too, easier. And somehow she forgot to live for herself. Overcoming a loss or post trauma, your subconscious builds a pattern that convinces you to interfere and repair it for others.

When you try to fix someone, even with the noblest of intentions it is very significant for you to realise that you serve as a block in their growth and learning process. Hurdles in life are nothing but lessons in disguise.

Stop projecting your fears onto the people you try ‘helping’. This calls for a reality check on your behavioural patterns. Your inability to face your fears,acknowledging your coping mechanisms, channelising them into productivity forces you to find an alternative way of dealing with things, by doing it for others.

The aftermath of mental illness, creates an undeniable pressure to try and save anyone else who is going through the same.

IT IS NOT YOUR JOB. 

Initially, the guilt takes a toll on you but isn’t that the beginning of self love? Being able to say NO. Being able to establish emotional boundaries is the first step of healing.

Protect your mental well being.

Respect their individuality,because we are all grown ups who can make choices that benefit us the most. As strange as it may seem, it is necessary for us to accept their decision.

The outcome of healing is not “ I don’t feel negative anymore” is not the end result of healing. It is “This negativity does not determine my self worth”

 

Haniya Ahmed

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