Be a Rebel Woman

Boundaries Are Kinda' My Jam

Uncategorized Jan 23, 2018

If there is one segment of my life that I am kicking ass in, and 100% confident in owning my shit about, it would be boundaries. 

For the last six years I have consciously worked on creating boundaries to keep myself, and my children, safe from expectations and judgment. Both of which can wreak havoc on you, especially if you are broken and fragile. 

As a recovering co-dependent, I know what it feels like to live for someone else's happiness. I know how heavy of a burden it is to show up every single day feeling as though you are failing your life, their life, and probably your kid's neglected hamster's life as well. 

When you exist within other's expectations, you are constantly changing your mask to match the outside world. And eventually, you forget to take the masks off (because it's just easier...) and your light begins to fade beneath the layers and layers of the facade.

And because it is some damn hard work removing those layers and layers of masks, many of us don't even bother. And I totally don't even fault you for not trying! If I had not gotten to a point where my masks were smothering me, and I was at risk of suffocation and death, I'd still be walking around looking like the Joker after being caught in a rainstorm. #notpretty 

When I had no other choice but to survive, I was forced to start doing the work and bust out some basic foundational boundaries. The very first one I set out to tackle is one of the most difficult to master: The Art of Saying No... And Not Giving One Guilty Fuck

When my kids were both in their early years of schooling, and I was attempting to live up to what a 'typical' family looked like, I joined the PTA. (And joining also means that you are a 'good parent'*, and involved in your children's education.)

*Said the conditioned voice in my head. 

I love PTA. I am so grateful that there are parents that are willing to volunteer their time so that our kids have amazing resources and experiences. All of you PTA Goddesses should be given a week vacation to a tropical destination, where there is an unlimited supply of Cabana Boys and hangover-free cocktails, and you actually enjoy saying 'yes' all day long. 

If my first-year PTA experience could be summed up in one word, that word would be: Yes

Yes, I can bring teacher snacks on Monday. 

Yes, I can print 800 flyers this afternoon. Last minute. And of course, I can stuff them in envelopes. And label them.

Yes, I would love to volunteer this weekend, and every single weekend for the entire school year, on this project, and that carnival, and all night at the book fair. 

Yes, I would love to cover your volunteer shift that you said yes to, but now you can't make it because you matched with your high school sweetheart on Plenty of Fish and you made plans to meet up, get drunk, and have sex in the back seat of his minivan. 

Oh. Wait. That might have been my shift I needed covered...

But you get the picture. 

Say 'yes' even when you are overwhelmed at home.

Agree to take on more than you are comfortable with, and don't disappoint the rest of the team.

We're all busy, you don't want anyone else to be burdened.

Make things easy for everyone else.

Just say 'yes'.

That shit was exhausting. But, because I was newly single and positioning myself to be the 'better' parent in the eyes of the court (anyone who has successfully navigated a divorce understands the necessity of manipulation), I signed on for a second year.

And this time as a board member. (Because I was not going to lose in that courtroom.)

When I entered my second PTA term, I went in with my own agenda at the forefront of my tenure. I would not automatically say 'yes' to one single volunteer opportunity, bake sale, craft project, or staff appreciation event. My mantra, that I would effortlessly and confidentially repeat out loud to anyone who requested my support, was: No thank you, I'm not available

No apology. No excuses. No long, drawn-out explanation to make the other person not feel bad for asking.

'No.'

And then you know what I did after I confidentially said 'no'? I went home, looked at my calendar, assessed my schedule, checked my bank account (volunteering is really friggin' expensive), talked to my kids, and more often than not, I would reach out to the volunteer liaison and let them know that I was available in some capacity.

I'm not a dick. Of course, I joined the PTA to support my kid's school, and I totally love volunteering and being a part of that community. I just wasn't going to be expected to participate when it affected my personal life.

(Ok. Maybe it's a little dickish.)

But my immediate reaction was always 'no'. And after a year of actively working that mind shift, I started to see my confidence and power start to flourish in other areas of my life as well.  

I didn't feel guilty for not taking on someone else's expectations of how I should show up, or how I should behave. I was allowed to explore my authenticity without the burden of outside judgment and opinions. I started to feel more confident when it came to thinking 'outside of the box', and I started to enjoy exploring new ideas and experiences. And all of that growth came from establishing a boundary, using one simple word: No. 

If you are struggling with boundaries, whether it's establishing them or figuring out which ones you need #allofthem, just try a week of saying 'no'. You can always come back with a 'yes', but it will be a 'yes' on your terms and it will feel authentic and light. 

And as much as the PTA loves your volunteer hours, they are equally happy to take a check. 

 

 

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