Setting Boundaries: Turning Expectations Into Appreciation

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Abolition of the drama, and tying up loose ends can be both cathartic, and liberating, especially when it comes to situations or circumstances that have lingered on much longer than they should have – days, months, perhaps years?  So, imagine my surprise when I finally gathered enough courage to confront a situation that had been causing a lot of negative feelings only to be told that I did something horribly wrong to hurt someone ….WHAT?  How did I hurt you when I was minding my own business?  As I continue, you will see how ultimately it was myself that caused this to happen.
I am a giver.  I love to give and to see people smile.  I love to make days brighter if you are feeling sad, or even just having a normal same old day.  I love to be generous, not only because it feels good but, because in my mind I know that it is good karma – you can never give too much.   It doesn’t have to be something grand, it just needs to be the thought put into it.  It can be anything from giving a friend a bouquet of flowers, to taking them out for dinner, to writing them a nice card from your heart, baking a friend a batch of cookie, etc.   I give to friends, and family members.  I give to strangers, food banks, charities, homeless people.  I donate religiously to causes for animals, health research and anything that tugs at my heart-strings because I can, because I want to, because I am free to do so, because it makes ME feel happy.  It makes me shine – and when I shine, I feel wonderful.
I felt that I needed to make a change at the beginning of last year so I really tried to take a look at what the cause was, and what I could do to not only protect myself from feeling this way, but also see the reality of my situations.  I took an honest look, and the “things” I was doing for people, and the way I was being treated were not adding up.  The balance was off kilter and it was impacting me negatively.  It hurt and I was not feeling joyful or happy about doing things for people – I was beginning to feel like it was an obligation.  So, I chose to make a conscious effort to be selective of the individuals I spent my valuable time with. I began to set boundaries.  Not huge boundaries but just enough to create a little distance so I could work on what I was struggling with.  I felt that my boundaries were keeping me focused, on track and committed to the most important thing in my world, my family.
Ultimately, I felt like I was being taken advantage of by many people – not being fully appreciated for the things I was doing for them.  Some of the people who I was trying to distance myself from were friends I that have known for many year, literally decades. So, in hindsight I can definitely see, from their point of view when they say that it looked like I had changed – perhaps I did.  After all, my priorities had changed.  My focus was on being a wife, and mother of two children.  My energy was redirected to them, and gladly so.
I was doing fantastic.  When I did have some time to spare I was spending time with, and becoming closer to, wonderful, beautiful individuals – people who were inspiring, intellectual, positive influences, and limiting the time from those energy draining people aka the energy vampires.
There were many different individuals, but the one that was bothering me the most was my best friend.  I could feel the distance invading my friendship with my best friend of twenty plus years, but I just chalked it up to being a result of the boundaries that I had set for myself as I previously mentioned.  I felt that I needed to keep distance from her, in particular, because of the relationship she had with her husband.  We did not see eye to eye on many of the issues when she would come to me for advice so I chose to back away avoiding tension in our conversations, as I can be quite blunt at time – especially when it comes to situations that continue to happen over and over again.  I appreciated that this was her path she was wanting to travel.  It had nothing to do with me – I was just simply feeling protective of someone I loved and hoping that the friendship would just work its way through the bumps, as things had in the past.  I was being respectful.
Since I made this change I can literally count on both of my hands how many times I had not only seen her, but talked on the phone. I missed her, but took responsibility for the way things were going – after all, I was not happy with my feelings at the beginning of the year, made my boundaries –  so I really needed to put myself first, for once.  I figured that she was doing the same thing.
The distance became greater, more obvious and awkward – it was completely apparent that there was hostility, over the past few months, as my text message were no longer responded to, my phone calls were ignored.  Of course, I was completely hurt as the months continued on, but I took responsibility for the way I felt, even if I was feeling down for her not being more involved in my life because the reality was that my personal boundaries would , obviously, result in this distance.  Whether I welcomed it or not, it was something that I knew I had to do in order to make me happier – it was not specifically directed at her, it was a phase that I had to work thru in my own personal world.  The reality was that I had been busy being a mother of two, and spending my moments raising my children, not accommodating her needs.
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What this ultimately comes down to is that her expectations in a certain situation were not as she had anticipated.  She was disappointed that I did not put as much effort into a material gift that was given to her – she felt that it was much less than I had done over the past twenty years, and she was offended by it. I’m still confused how someone has the audacity to say that out loud, but yes, we’ve all experienced disappointment, but would you honestly say that to someone??  I’ve witnessed homeless people show more appreciation for the food I have given them!  Saddened, beyond words.
To hear that out loud broke my heart because over the years I have been so giving.  You would roll your eyes at me if you knew some of the things I did to make her, and others happy. Disappointed, deeply.
I indirectly take full responsibility for this particular bump in my path because I know in my heart that if I had set my boundaries years ago, things would have turned out differently. I would have been more guarded, and the end result would not have been the way I am feeling right now.
Expectations …. it will destroy friendships if you begin to take someones kindness for granted.  Learn to appreciate their efforts before you destroy a friendship based on characteristics that you would never even look for, in a potential friendship, in a first place.  There is no room for expectations, especially without appreciation, in genuine friendships.
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