A few years ago I joined a women’s group in the church I belonged to that dealt with getting over abuse of the sexual nature. I loved it, so I went through it again. Then, the group leader asked me if I would assist her in leading the group over at our local half way house for recovering addicts. Boy, was I stoked! Not only was I getting to go through a tremendously healing process one more time, but I was also going to be with a woman who had slowly turned into somewhat of a mentor to me, Patty. Also, I love being around addicts in recovery. It’s my special thing that the Lord gave me to enjoy. So many of the classes and groups and “things” I did to better myself were great, but they didn’t bring about big changes in my life. This class did. I could rave on and on about it, but it was only the first step in a healing process.
I believe that when we moved to Gainesville, Florida, the Lord unlocked a piece of me that could only be unlocked here. That was when my world began to unfold and I saw just how free I really am. Sisters, family, and even acquaintances began to speak more life and freedom into me and I received it wholeheartedly. You never really know just how bound up you were until you are free, and dancing around in that freedom!
When my mentor told me during that first class that she knew a victim of abuse within minutes of talking to a woman I couldn’t believe her, but now I know just what she was talking about. And I can too. One of the main signs, for me, is giving up boundaries that are important to me in order to make someone else feel better. I was People Pleaser President.
One of the most important lessons I have learned over the last several years is that any kind of traumatic abuse can strip you of your rights and boundaries as a person. Those events, especially if they happen during childhood shape parts of our personalities. Coming face to face with my demons in the past head-on has been incredibly challenging and sometimes I can feel my knees get weak.
I have had to set personal boundaries, with my kids, in my marriage, with friends, and in life. I am the one solely responsible for my children’s education and child rearing, so I am completely theirs during the week. That works out well for me at times, like when they get a playdate with the kids of a mom I really like to see. But sometimes I have to put a practice in place that is what’s best for the kids. Several years ago I would have spent all day on the phone, “window” shopping on the internet, reading my favorite homeschool threads, and getting caught up in cleaning around the house. Today, all day is spent with my kids. The only exception is our gym time… they get gym class with a Christian woman I adore and their 3 best friends… and I get to exercise and shower in peace. Other than that, they have my full attention. In return, they know that we have a very loose schedule that has to happen to make the home work. They join in on my errands and help me with my cooking. They don’t get to “check out” and go have computer time when they are supposed to be helping me, so I give them that same respect.
My weekends and late week nights belong to my husband. We need a lot of time together in order to make our marriage a happy one. If one of us is gone too much throughout the week, we notice the bickering and frustration creeping in. We need to have that time together and so that is a priority. He works in a different city that is 2 hours away in rush hour and so we make it a priority to have that time together. And we also let each other know if we feel neglected or we are needing a little bit more attention.
As Christians, time with other Christians is at the heart of being social creatures. We need to spend time with like-minded people who will share Christ with us and also help us to continue His walk on the earth. That can be too much or too little at times, but a dinner and one or two playdates is just right for us.
As someone who once had the personality of a victim, a people pleaser, I can say that I am happily free of those names. I have my family, my responsibilities and very little time left over. Do you know where that time goes? It goes to the things I enjoy that help me relax. I need to relax and find things to do that I enjoy so that I don’t lose who I am in my marriage or my parenting. I enjoy all things homeschool and holistic health. I enjoy research, writing, and planning. It keeps me sane, it helps me feel productive, and I am quite happy that I am not out selling my soul for heroin, but rather living a worth while life.
The point of this blog entry is that I am learning and living out my freedom. I can tell everyone I know that my days are for my kids and my nights and weekends are for my husband and family, but they may not care. They may not agree with my priorities and boundaries. On special occasions we venture outside our normal activities and make room in our schedule and our budget to see family out of town- Chris’s family lives in the midwest and mine in Orlando.
So you may be wondering why I wrote about these 2 topics in one entry and it’s because I still sometimes feel a little guilty for having my priority structure laid out the way it is. Chris and I have decided to do our life this way. We have had to let go of some activities we used to do in order to make time for each other and so the kids will never get hushed or put aside. Our hope is that, just like other families who have done life this way, we will end up with kids who don’t hush us during their teen years. 🙂
I feel bad sometimes. I’ve had to take that heaping side of guilt (which is not from the Lord by the way) and let it go. Most of you, especially my Sisters and mom who enjoy talking on the phone know by now that unless there’s an emergency I don’t use my phone during the day. I text. I don’t get reception in my home and need to go outside to make a call and I have no yard. I am not dragging my kids (who are in the middle of something) to come sit in on our pavement driveway so I can make idle use of my time. Even if I could use my phone inside, that time belongs to my kids. I used to feel so guilty for not being a phone person. At times I felt sick, like I had to call that person back so they know I don’t hate them. But I am no longer that victim. I am no longer that people pleaser. If you have known me for more than 10 minutes you know what my boundaries are as far as Chris and the kids goes. At night sometimes he’ll turn down phone calls so he can spend time with me and it lets me know that we are in one accord.
I used to think that certain families were weird for not having a tv. Who doesn’t have a tv? It’s crazy. Well, I am like that with my phone. I am not a phone person at this point in my life. I am also at the point where I choose to not feel guilty for it. I have time set aside for everyone I care about when I actually spend time with them and that’s what’s most precious anyway. I make sure I get to see everyone that’s important to me at regular intervals, even if it means sacrificing in order to do it. Sometimes I’ll cut my gym appointment in order to spend time with a Sister. Sometimes I’ll sacrifice a night with my hubby so Chris can talk with a friend outside. Sometimes we’ll sacrifice the grocery budget so we can go visit my family in Orlando, or we’ll sacrifice some savings to see family in the midwest.
I have found my freedom and it’s in doing what I feel is best for our family. My husband and kids are happy as clams that they “have” me almost all day or night long. We are doing things a little differently than the rest. Maybe we’ll have less family breakdowns as we discover what our boundaries are and stick to them, or maybe I’m the only one who feels this way and Chris and I will live a happy little weird life. With no phone calls during family time. 🙂