Boundaries

For the first 3-4 years of our infertility journey, I happily joined baby showers, birthday parties and even regularly attended a weekly play dates where friends would bring their kiddos over to each other’s homes. Babies would play, moms (and myself) would chat and drink coffee. Maybe those things just didn’t bother me much back then, or maybe they did and I just denied the pain. I enjoyed celebrating with friends and immersing myself in a world that I believed I would soon join.

Somewhere along the way, the pain started to increase significantly. Maybe it was after we lost our baby. Maybe it was when we stopped having an “official” plan with fertility treatments and started to drift out into the wilderness of “no man’s land.”

Women’s Bible studies began to equal tears. Baby showers meant an entire weekend of tears. Even lighthearted birthday parties, painting parties or happy hour meant tears. Any women’s gathering I went to, my heart was assaulted by women who unintentionally spent 3 hours talking about babies, pregnancy, parenting, nap schedules and teething. No matter the context, I always felt like a girl on the outside looking in.

I’m not sure exactly when the boundaries started to go up, but they went up and they went up high. I intentionally had to distance myself from certain friends. I intentionally had to leave certain groups just to keep my heart from collapsing on a weekly basis (I’m looking at you, BSF!). My heart needed a little protecting and at the risk of losing friendships and isolating myself from certain people, I chose to protect it. In the process, I learned that boundaries are a really great thing.

Since these boundaries have been in place, I’ve been in a much healthier place emotionally. The boundaries have given me freedom. Freedom to say no, to do what I want, to excuse myself from unnecessary pain. The boundaries have promoted my well-being and helped me identify the relationships that I really want to invest in instead of feeling burdened to take part in everything I’m invited to.

While I think my boundaries will stay firmly in place for the foreseeable future in regards to things like play dates, all women Bible studies and baby showers. I do think it’s wise to reevaluate boundaries as time goes on.

For instance, our new small group. It is a wonderfully diverse place that is life-giving, enjoyable and nurturing. We have been welcomed with open arms and I can’t help but want to dive right into life with these people. The group is made up of singles, young couples, older married (ha! I love that David and I now fit into this category) couples, families with older kids….and a precious young couple who just invited us all over to their house for a gender reveal party next week.

            …………..long pause….blink….blink….lips pursed…..half smile….blink……blink…………

This couple is very kind and sweet. They genuinely want to celebrate with their church family. It’s not a “hey look at us” kind of thing. It’s more like a “hey, would you all like to maybe come over to play some Monopoly, drink some decaf coffee and celebrate together?” sort of thing. And while I admit part of my heart had a knee-jerk reaction that wanted to say  “Ummm…yeah no… kthxbai!” and run out the door, there was another part of me that said “what if?” What if it was a fun night with our small group? What if it didn’t hurt (or at least as badly as I think it could)? What if not going would be missing out on a big part of their life right now? What if I get to eat a delicious piece of cake with pink or blue frosting?  Mmmm cake…. 😉

I still haven’t made up my mind. I have 6 more days to think it over. But I am realizing that the beautiful thing about self-generated boundaries is that you always have the ability to change the height and perimeter. They are dynamic and exist to serve you in whatever way you need at the time. And sometimes those needs change. Sometimes it’s good to add a latch to the gate and let someone in, or leave for a day or two. Sometimes you need to lower the height of the hedge to get a better view of the territory that surrounds you. And one day, maybe you even dismantle the boundaries altogether when the coast is clear. But until then, boundaries are intended to be healthy form of self-protection, not iron walls that you can’t get beyond.

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