One of the issues that not just a lot of codependents, but a lot of PEOPLE have is “Boundaries”. You hear counselors use that word a lot and I didn’t know what it was really until I my psychologist recommended the book aptly titled by the same name. Basically boundaries, in a very simplified version are anything that tells you where one person ends and another begins.
Skin is a physical boundary. It’s no wonder that those who have been sexually abused often have difficulty with boundaries as even the most basic of boundaries was violated and seems fairly unreal. Emotional boundaries are even more difficult for some of us to grasp. Codependents like myself have an extremely difficult time knowing were their own feelings begin and end and not taking responsibility for other peoples emotions. We are pro at anticipating other peoples feeling and responding… but we are not good at ” tending to our own garden” if you will.
For me boundaries are really blurry and obscure and after half a lifetime of busily pulling up weeds in other peoples gardens my own became so overgrown I couldn’t even see what’s in it anymore/where it was. A lot of the the beautiful flowers that once grew there are long gone and I can’t remember what they were or how I planted them. So I have started the task of weeding and planting MY souls garden.
I know that might sound daunting and in some ways it is, but it is also so tremendously exciting and even fun. I mean. I don’t know what the hell *I* like to do. I don’t know what I enjoy. So I started small.
I know I like to read and so I have been reading books that are helpful to my “gardening” (sorry, but this is seriously the most perfect metaphor ever and I’m going to wear it out). The first book I read was about how a souls garden gets as messy as mine has and some ways to identify if you are spending all your time pulling up weeds in people who wont pull their own weeds’ garden. Now I am reading a book on building a fence to protect my garden from those who would just take what they want and to remind me were MY garden begins and ends so I don’t wonder off before I have taken care of it. The book reminds me that I need a gate to let the good in and toss the bad out. It’s a fence after all… not a brick wall. It can be moved if it has to be but not easily and not without cost.
Therapy and these books coupled with prayer and a lot of introspection are my “weeding”. And slowly I am starting to see the shape of the garden of my soul. I’m working on building my fences and figuring out where they go but I am also sorting through all sorts of seeds to figure out what I like and what I want to plant and grow.
Other than reading the only other thing that I could think of that I knew I liked was being outside. I know that I want to get in shape and that working out makes me feel so much more mentally clear so I decided to try biking. I got a bike for me and Zac got one and we got one of those little carriages for Emily.
I honestly am shocked at just how much joy this has brought me. I LOVE it. It’s been so beautiful the past few days here and we have been biking every chance we get. My legs are a little sore and I’m a little breathless when we are done, but I feel SO happy.
The sunshine/fresh air/outdoors aspect of it lifts my spirits. The physical activity makes me feel productive and clear headed. The fact that it’s something that ALL three of us thoroughly enjoy is such a blessing. Family time and seeing Emily doing something that doesn’t involve electronics makes my heart smile. Biking is a blooming rosebush in my garden.
So now I have three things that I know make me happy… or three baby plants to tend to and grow. Reading, Biking, and Writing. For the longest time this was my ONLY healthy habit. Writing to you is therapy in an of itself. A big strong Oak Tree.
And I feel free Miranda. I don’t know what all I like but for the first time I feel like I not only have the right to try new things and find out… I feel responsible for doing it. It’s MY life. It’s MY enjoyment. There is NOTHING selfish about tending to your own life and learning JOY for yourself as apposed to constantly tending to others.
I’ll end this letter by saying that the other thing I am learning is that what other people do or don’t do with their gardens isn’t my problem. Hahaha! Isn’t that great. People who are used to others constantly dealing with everything for them tend to be very angry/upset when you stop doing everything for them/playing into their guilt/ect. They get pissed when they trespass on your land and there are now consequences and that they get thrown out the front gate and onto their ass. But some of the people around you are also really grateful for the fence because it helps THEM know what to expect from you and what you expect from them.
This doesn’t mean you can never leave the confines of your yard to help another, but it shouldn’t be all the time and it shouldn’t be at the expense of your own soul/self/garden. We all need help from time to time, but we all need to do our own share as well. I don’t own other peoples flowers and they have no right to come and take mine. I get to decide what I will allow for myself.
If you have any gardening tips of your own, I’d love to hear them. Love you!