I just had a conversation with a friend and I can’t get a comment he made out of my head. He said he sets a time limit on how much time is a good visit with a particularly difficult person we both know and spend time with.
Is it alright to set a boundary around how much is an appropriate time with a difficult person in my life? I know the answer is yes, but I still feel guilty when I do it.
My friend is correct in his time estimation, because after that amount of time with the person we were talking about, and maybe even sooner, you are getting frustrated and no longer enjoy the visit.
Unfortunately, I have always had a problem with setting boundaries with difficult people. Which was a good part of the reason I found myself continuing to live in an abusive situation for so long. It is also a good reason why I still find myself getting dragged into situations, from time to time, causing me grief and stress.
We all have difficult people in our lives, I call them sandpaper people, because often God uses them to polish down some of my rough edges, but there is a difference between sandpaper and a chisel and being polite and being a martyr.
I decided that this year I am going to be more proactive about boundaries and corralling my feelings that cause me to do what I already know will not work with certain people. I decided that I don’t have to feel guilty because I can’t control how everybody chooses to behave and treat others. I have decided that being nice doesn’t mean I have to ruin my day.
I had to do this many years ago, as I worked through separating and getting on with my life after ending my abusive marriage. And, for the most part, I feel pretty good about how I handled that time of my life. My ex was beyond difficult and I had lots of practice with keeping my emotions out of decisions and setting good boundaries when it involved him and our children.
For me, knowing my weakness helps me be more aware when I am slipping up in certain areas. I no longer have the issues with my abusive ex, but I do still have boundaries I need to set today. Conversations with healthy friends, like the one I mentioned at the beginning, are good reminders to me that setting and keeping boundaries is a life-long reality, and it is harder for some than others. But it is certainly something we should not feel guilty about.
If you need prayer about boundaries you need to set or keep, let me know, I would love to pray with you.