During the last few weeks leading up to my divorce hearing, my emotions were all over the place and at times seemed to be spiraling out of control. Although our divorce was mutual and we took the time to consciously uncouple, it has been difficult to fathom a life without my best friend and partner of the last ten years. My emotional eating was out of control. Sugar and carbohydrates were my best friends. I was on a roller coaster of highs and lows. I felt like I was losing what little control over my life that I had.
It’s been three weeks since “the divorce.” I’ve begun the healing and moving on process. I realized once again just how important taking care of myself is; especially at this time in my life. It has been a chaotic, messy, and emotional year but I am confident that I will come out stronger and more resilient as long as I continue to stay focused on finding my happy place again. Recently, I was faced with rethinking the boundaries and self-care regimen I thought I had down pact. I was reminded that sometimes we lose sight of what we need to be doing to stay in that healthy place. Sometimes, life just happens and before you know it, you are in the thick of a tough situation and begin to feel the overwhelm creeping in.
A few years ago, a coworker walked by my desk and asked me if I made any New Year’s resolutions. My immediate response was, “I don’t make resolutions. I make boundaries.” She came back to my desk and we talked more about what that truly meant for me. It was a profound moment in my life because I had finally begun to realize that my inner work on boundaries was beginning to take hold. Like most empathetic individuals, I was always doing more than my fair share of giving. We are the peacemakers. We are the caregivers. We are the ones to be counted on by family, friends, and even in the workplace. Taking on everyone else’s problems can be a daunting task and can wear you down emotionally and physically. For decades of my adult life, I spent it people-pleasing, being afraid to speak up, and tolerating negative behaviors—all for the sake of keeping the peace and not wanting to be confrontational. I ended up working myself to exhaustion with a serious bout of anxiety with depression. That was the beginning of my wake up call.
For the first time in my life, I accepted that it was ok to say no. It was ok to live with limits. It was ok for me to not answer the phone when “that person” called me for a favor. It was ok to speak my mind and stand up for myself. I was not a bad person. I was a tired person who had given way too much and needed to focus more on myself and filling my cup in ways that made me a better person and eventually a better ‘giver.’
What I learned through so much introspection and therapy is that we can only give what we have to give. Setting boundaries and limits are difficult. It is even more difficult if you’re a wife and a mother. It is necessary. Do I feel guilty or bad about saying “no?” Absolutely! Do I allow those feelings to force me to give or do more than I am capable? Absolutely not! I love my family. I love my friends and even the work that I do. I love with boundaries now. I love in a way that helps me take care of myself. If you’re sensitive or an empath, please don’t ever be afraid to say no. Sometimes it is necessary.