I’ll tell you up front – this post has nothing to do with Panama, except circumstantially. It’s about life and relationships, which sometimes get off-balance and strained for various reasons, and this is intensely personal to me.
A little background – for most of my life, I avoided confrontation and didn’t stand up for myself when I should have. I know other people noticed, because 20 years ago I remember my boss saying to me, “You wouldn’t say shit if you had a mouth full of it.” Her observation was indeed true back then – I would either hold my emotions in or simply avoid uncomfortable situations.
A little over two years ago, I left a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship that began soon after I moved to Panama. After that experience, I determined that enough was enough, and vowed never to allow myself to be devalued, degraded, dismissed, and made to feel “less than” again. I also decided that if I felt that was the case, I would make my objections to poor treatment known – not in an angry or confrontational way, but as a rational statement of how their words or actions affected me. Boundaries can be about many aspects of life. Some examples are illustrated below:
I applied my new boundaries several times in the past two years, when something was said that didn’t sit well with me. I took time to think about it, then approached the “offender” and explained my position, which cleared the air. In one case, the person actually thanked me for saying something, and agreed to adjust their view of the situation to a more positive outlook. We came to an agreement that was mutually satisfying, which was a successful outcome to an uncomfortable situation. Win-win!
Sometimes things don’t work out so well, though. Recently, I alerted a friend (who was going through a disruptive time in their own life) that I objected to their unwarranted outburst of anger and negative characterizations toward me, and politely asked them to stop. Not only did they NOT stop, they added even more harsh words in reply. In the days afterward, I sent a couple of e-mails attempting to clarify my objections and both times offered to sit down and resolve the issue. The first attempt was met with additional negativity, and in the second instance, they completely ignored my offer of reconciliation, and instead complained about how many e-mails they received per day.
It takes two to resolve any conflict, and I saw no willingness to do so from the other side. So although I still hold out hope for the repair of this long-standing and important relationship, the jury’s still out on whether that will happen. I would love to have my friend back in my life, but their behavior displayed in this situation was so completely removed from this person’s usual character as to be almost unrecognizable.
I sincerely hope that at some point, they reconnect to their “true self” and wish to restore the relationship, but that’s their choice to make. If it happens, I’ll gladly be there – but if not, I will sadly accept their decision to remain estranged.
The above statement may sound a bit harsh, but I am at peace with my decision to treat myself with respect (finally), and to live in accordance with my authentic self. The “Golden Rule” is a great yardstick for successfully navigating life – I subscribe fully to that concept.
Peace to all….