This is Lori writing for Gay while she is in Kansas with Beth. I've been pondering since last week what I might have to say that would be true, helpful, and remotely interesting about my experience in relationships that injure. Much more, I've been very concerned about the integrity of both the people whom I have injured as well as those who have been hurtful to me. While Miss Annie provides compelling stories and such vivid examples of relational topics, she is safe from injured feelings. Although she is quite brilliant, reading is a skill she has not acquired to date.
I'd like to preface that I am fully aware that I have been and will be--to my dismay-- the perpetrator of injury in relationship. I have at times injured with full intention to hurt and harm. I take no pride in admitting this. There are other times when I wasn't even aware that I was causing pain to another person. There were also those times when I knew my behavior hurt another person, I just didn't know how to not behave in that particular way. There have been relationships where the tap root of the connection was based on mutually poor relational skills with one another.
I'm feeling quite vulnerable writing because I have said aloud multiple times lately, "I'm FINALLY in first grade in relationship school!" If you consider yourself in college or graduate school, feel free to ignore me or be excited that there are grown-ups in the world who take seriously the business of learning and loving.
Before I could even begin to understand the dynamics of the important relationships in my life, I had to learn two things:
2. What made me who and what I was. I needed to understand my history so that I could make informed, deliberate decisions to do life in different ways.
When Gay Hubbard mentioned the idea of a boundary to me in 1990, I had a school book knowledge of what that meant. I knew boundaries in a professional social work context. I didn't know that a boundary was something I should apply to my life. I wish I could report that some 22 years later, I'm an expert in explaining and applying healthy boundaries. I've grown from infancy to, as mentioned before, first grade. When rested and intentional I can understand the significance of setting a boundary by saying no. I can even accept the consequences that may result in my saying no. I can let go of what is my responsibility and what is the other person's.
Catch me when I'm exhausted, or cranky and I might say yes just because it's easier in the short term than setting a boundary. I also know that my healthy boundary can be perceived and felt as intentional harm to another person. That's very, very hard for me to accept. It's even harder for me to accept that some of my boundaries will permanently change a relationship. Some relationships cannot survive healthy boundaries.
I'm still learning. Sometimes, I'm still "learnin' the hard way", as my Memo often says.
Learning about boundaries while trying to understand my own wounded-ness was a powerful combination. I began understanding why I am drawn to certain kinds of people. In turn, I could see why they were attracted to me. I learned that there are other options of relating than the ones modeled for me, intentionally or by proxy, in my family of origin. Over time I have found that I am far more gracious and willing to be merciful when I realize that so many that I love are ignorant of their own internal history and how it impacts their relationship with me. This knowledge also informs how deeply I am involved with those people. I learned from Gay that not everyone is helpful in the journey. Her voice resonates, "Choose wisely."
I am so grateful that Gay has chosen to invest in my life. It's my heart's desire to shower her with the fruit my life produces based on her work with a seedling. I may be a young tree; but, through her investment in teaching and training me, I am beginning to see stability and grounded-ness that will, I hope produce fruit.
Gay will be back next week. Thanks for reading the scribbles of a first grader. ~lori