I’ve shared on “Hearing Elmo” before how important I think boundaries are to people with invisible illness, disability or chronic conditions. I believe we are already vulnerable. Not a WEAK sort of vulnerability, for we are actually very resilient in comparison to people who do not struggle with similar challenges. Dunn, Uswatte, and Elliott (2009) report that people with acquired conditions and challenges are often more resilient, happy, and have a positive sense of well-being. Yet, because we struggle to be all that we can be with new limitations, we can be vulnerable to others through criticism, disbelief, and lack of support. I believe that as people learn to cope and adjust to a “new normal”, boundaries–and sometimes BRICK WALLS–are imperative.
One of my favorite books that I often mention, is “Boundaries” by two of my favorite psychologists/writers, Cloud and Townsend. I highly recommend the book if you are seeking to establish healthy boundaries.
I could go on and on about how MEAN PEOPLE SUCK, but this is more than that. We have all experienced interacting with people who are toxic, negative, and critical. These interactions inhibit our growth and our ability to cope effectively and successfully with challenges–that to us are not CHOICES, rather realities of living in our bodies. Boundaries can, and should be, set for these people. A boundary limits our interaction with someone that we have discovered hinders our growth or influence. Boundaries are not permanent. People can re-establish a good relationship. I always cringe when I hear people say, “Once you’ve lost my trust, you’ve lost it forever“.
I am not who I was. I hope that my life reflects a “work in progress”. I want to be a person who continues to grow each year that I live. I believe I can set a boundary for a critical and negative person, and my faith can be restored in this person at a later date. Life changes people, folks! The boundary keeps me at a safe distance, however, for whatever period of time is needed by that person to change or grow themselves.
It hurts when you have to set up a boundary with a family member or someone who was once a close friend. Even these boundaries are necessary at times. Self-care is not only important, it is necessary. If we do not do what we must (by setting up a boundary for an unsafe person), we cannot thrive or make a difference in the life of another. Boundaries limit what we offer to these people. You may choose to not share specific things about yourself with them. You may limit how often you interact. These boundaries protect you and allow you to continue to live victoriously. They allow you to be the champion… the WARRIOR, that you are!
However, there are times when boundaries become more than safe zones for us. Boundaries can turn into permanent and impenetrable fixtures to completely cut us off from unsafe people. The boundaries become brick walls.
When do you know that a boundary needs to be replaced with a brick wall? I believe…
… you will know.
The person has habitually harmed you. You have provided an avenue for reconciliation and they have repeatedly taken advantage and continue to injure you. When this happens, it’s time for a brick wall, my friend! When and if you choose to permanently block someone from your life, it is important to remember:
- You are not responsible for their behavior.
- You are not selfish, nor stubborn.
- Your applied masonry skills mean you can continue making a difference in the life of others.
How do you build a brick wall and permanently dismantle a relationship? I have had to do this. It wasn’t easy. It hurts when it is someone who once mattered a great deal. However, self-preservation may mean you need to build that wall. Here are some things that worked for me:
- Block them from all social media outlets.
- Block their phone number.
- Block their email address.
- If you can, eliminate all face-to-face interactions.
- Don’t feel guilty. If you do, you are weakening that brick wall. You were not the toxin, they were.
- Avoid other’s efforts of reuniting you to this person. Well-intentioned people often do not know the whole story.
- If you must grieve the loss of this person, allow yourself to do so.
Because this is something I once did, I feel like I should give a warning as well. Don’t build walls because you are hurt and hunker down into protective mode. This is self-imposed isolation, not deliberate wall-building to keep out those who are toxic to you.
A perk I’ve discovered of brick walls? It can force a change of direction. You never know “who” or “what” awaits you as you step in the opposite direction.
© 2016 Personal Hearing Loss Journal
Dunn, D., Uswatte, G., and Elliott, T. (2009). Happiness, resilience, and positive growth following physical disability: Issues for understanding, research, and therapeutic intervention. Retrieved September 5, 2016, from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Timothy_Elliott/publication/232514358_Happiness_resilience_and_positive_growth_following_physical_disability_Issues_for_understanding_research_and_therapeutic_intervention/links/09e4150a3327348871000000.pdf
4 thoughts on “Boundaries & Brick Walls”
I had a great friend through high school, but once stuff started changing for him, and he began a negative spiral in his life, I had to build that brick wall. I reconnected with him years later, and again, I got burned. Wall back up. And just because I’m a glutton for punishment, tried reconnecting again, just going out for a nice evening. Ended up getting burned again. More wall-building. I just couldn’t handle the drama he brought to my life.
Sadly, he passed away, and 14 years later, I’m still working on whether or not I feel guilty about not being there for him during his final days. I don’t think I do.
When someone is so toxic, they just kinda have to be let go.
I’ve had to do it myself. It isn’t easy.
I have listened closely to what you’ve taught us over the past few years about boundaries, and testing the waters, and brick walls. Thank you so much for this, and the important reminders of the multi layered value of setting limits and sometimes even bricking up a wall!