Boundaries During The Holidays To Keep Yourself Safe From Emotional Abuse
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I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have a heart-wrenching share from V. She’s talking about holding boundaries during the holidays which is so difficult.
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Holiday Boundaries To Keep Myself Safe From Emotional Abuse
V is sharing today about her Thanksgiving experience. So many of us have experiences like this: experiences where we desperately want our families to be a safe and peaceful place, but because of our husband’s behaviors it’s not an option at this moment. I have felt the terror of realizing, my husband hates me or my husband is always angry and irritable. That terror caused me to ruminate about our interactions instead of taking action to keep myself safe.
I’m so grateful for V’s share today about how she sets boundaries, even when it’s the holidays and even when her greatest desire is to be with her family.
My husband and I are currently separated. We've been separated for three months. He is not working recovery right now. That is what led to me asking him to move out... because he was lying constantly and was emotionally abusive. And I felt like I was going crazy and it came to a point where I said you have to be working recovery or you can’t live here.
The First Boundary I Set
He said he would go to a meeting. I found out that he lied and didn’t go. I asked him to move out at that point. And that was one of the first boundaries that I enforced.
I remember feeling so desperate for a peaceful home, that it was as if I had no other choice than to ask him to leave because I was so surrounded by trauma and pain constantly because of his lack of recovery.
I’ve held that boundary. It’s been really difficult. I didn’t realize how hard it would be. I did spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s family and he was there. It was very uncomfortable because I don’t spend much time with my husband other than interacting when he’s coming by to watch our son while I’m at therapy or group.
So Thanksgiving was really hard. Physically being around him was very triggering.
We talked about getting a Christmas tree. I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday and I love the idea of my family being together and doing the holiday traditions together.
There’s so many things I want to do as a family. But I realized this morning that I needed to make a boundary about the amount of time I spend with him. I thought about it for a long time, and I talked with a recovery contact, and I prayed about it.
I came to the conclusion that I didn’t feel I was safe to go get a Christmas tree with my husband as much as I wanted to. He has not shown me that he is safe for me to spend that time with him and that time as a family. And I don’t feel comfortable spending that time with him.
So I wrote out what I would read to him.
I told him I wanted to feel comfortable with him. I expressed that the way I would feel comfortable is if he would work recovery with a sponsor and a therapist. After I was finished reading, he ignored what I had to say and asked about our plans to get a Christmas tree. Even though I had made it clear in the boundary I had made that that’s not something I’m comfortable doing when he’s not working his recovery. When I restated my boundary to him, he immediately started verbally attacking me.
It was aggressive. He started asking “What are we going to do about Christmas? Am I gonna get to spend Christmas with my son?”
I was at a loss for words. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t expect that. And so I tried to restate my boundary, but then I realized I had to remove myself from the conversation because I wasn’t going to get anywhere with trying to explain my boundary to him.
And so I said, “How about you take some time to think about this and we can talk later.”
I got off the phone. Since then I’ve felt uneasy, but not because I did the wrong thing. I strongly believe that I’m protecting myself and doing the right thing by holding a boundary with my husband when he’s not in recovery. But I feel uneasy because my desire is to spend time with him and to enjoy the Christmas spirit and holiday because I feel very lonely sometimes.
My Boundary To Avoid Emotional Abuse Caused Me To Doubt Myself
His reaction to my boundary caused me to doubt myself--am I doing the right thing? All those questions ran through my head. I was able to get back in contact with my recovery friend who helped me realize I was putting my husband at my center, and I needed to re-center myself. Which is what I’m doing this evening.
This has been the hardest boundary I’ve had to hold with my husband because it seemed like getting the tree as a family would be a positive and harmless thing. But I know that even though I’m excited to see my husband, once I'm in his presence I realize how uncomfortable I really feel. And how his lack of recovery makes being around him so undesirable.
I really do love my husband, and I really sincerely desire to work out our marriage. And it’s really hard when it doesn’t seem like that’s what he wants. And I’m trying one day at a time to connect with God and follow His will for me.
But I definitely don’t do it perfectly. I struggle with knowing what His will is for me. I’m just trying to be open and to let Him know that I desire to carry out His will and surrender my desires and my will. Because I know that He has a plan for me. And His plan is the best plan.
Boundaries have been really important in my recovery. I’ve learned a lot about God through boundaries, and how He holds boundaries with each of us.
Why Boundaries Are So Important
I’ve also gained a stronger testimony that He desires me to hold boundaries to protect myself. He wants me to keep my son safe because it’s my responsibility to keep my son safe physically and emotionally--that’s where boundaries come into play for me and when I think of it that way, it gives me a lot of strength.
I do feel like I’m carrying out God’s will when I protect myself and my son. And I pray for my husband that he will find healing and recovery and that he’ll find God. But I can’t make him do any of those things.
I’m grateful for the support I feel from my sisters in recovery, and the strength I get from them. I’m trying to take life one day at a time, even one moment at a time right now. And I believe that things will get better. I have found peace and happiness through working my recovery. There are hard days, and today is one of those days.
I have faith that it will get better and I’ll have good days again.
V is a trauma warrior and I love her so much. I’m so grateful for all of you listening.
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