“You may not be able to control what other people say or how they act, but you can always choose how you treat yourself. You can choose who you surround yourself with, and who you let go of. And no matter what your circumstances, you can choose to believe in yourself and your worth.
Because at the end of the day, trying to please everyone is exhausting and impossible. No matter how you change or who you become, there will always be someone who doesn’t approve. So instead of wasting your energy in a futile attempt to become someone that other people want you to be, give yourself permission to be exactly who you are. And know that who you are is exactly enough.
You don’t ever have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life. It doesn’t matter whether someone is a relative, romantic interest, employer, childhood friend, or a new acquaintance; you don’t have to make room for people who cause you pain or make you feel small. It’s one thing if a person owns up to their behavior and makes an effort to change. But if a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries, and continues to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go.
The right people will find their way into your life. These are the people who will love and accept you wholeheartedly and without conditions. These are the people who matter. Let go of the rest.”
~ Daniell Koepke
I discovered this article the other day and have been chewing on it for a week or so. I can tell the ideas here must have been sinking in because I found myself thinking about boundaries and the way I haven’t felt safe lately on Facebook.
Recently, whenever I go to post something on FB, I have to stop myself and then never end up posting because I know that nothing I want to write these days will be acceptable to certain family members who will read it and judge me behind my back. I used to believe in the same religion as my family, so I didn’t have to watch my back as much in the past. But even then, I had to be careful about what photos I could put up. If my shorts or jeans were too tight, or if the photo looked too revealing, it would be scrutinized by my father who has access to my page through my mom’s account. Ugggh. I have always been so sick of the way he stares at my sisters and I, looking for immodesty so he can berate us in the name of God for it. I hated it back in the day when I lived on the homestead, and I’ve always hated knowing he was doing the same to me even as an adult on FB or at family functions. I put up with it on FB, just because I figured I had to. I also had to hide or restrict my postings on FB because a lot of my friends’ comments would have been considered lewd or unseemly to my family. My family would have assumed I was the same in associating with them, and they would have been keeping tabs on me, judging me and these friends. I hated having to restrict expressing myself, but somehow thought that as an obedient Christian daughter, this is what I had to do.
The last year or so though, I’ve shed a lot of my family’s toxic religious beliefs that I had believed for many years in the past without even thinking about it. I’ve become interested in expressing this transformation with like minded friends. At this point in my life, my biggest social outlet is FB, and I’ve rubbed shoulders with so many beautiful, amazing people who live outside the field of wrong and right. I’ve wanted to connect with them on FB in a public way, but have held myself back because I know my family would confront and shame me for doing so.
There is this interesting belief that my family circulates about one of my sisters and I. Since both of us became ill with chronic fatigue, PTSD and adrenal burnout, my family members whisper to each other that God is judging us with this illness because of our sins. They say that God will continue to curse us with illness until we “get right with God.” They say they are on God’s side and they won’t help us out when we need help, as long as we remain stubborn and hardened against God. As if they know what it means to be right with God! They say we will never get our careers back and never lead a successful life until we ask forgiveness, get back under submission to God, and get back into the church. As if that is ever going to happen. Basically, my family is cursing me, and I’m supposed to take this bullying as my due. I’m supposed to back down and submit if I want their judgment to stop. What they are doing is tough love, God’s tough love. Their God is a bully who will rain bad luck on me until I relent to him and repent.
Well, I am long past that stage in my life. I don’t believe in a God like that. That kind of treatment is an insult to my soul, and I brush it clear off of me. My creator and I are one, and there is nothing I could ever do “wrong” in his/her eyes. I have nothing to be afraid of. I am simply infinitely loved.
And yet, I do not feel like I have the freedom to express this to my family. I have been treated like a black sheep and denied help in the past, but my confirming their suspicions would result in some kind of subtle social punishment for me. My mom might not be allowed to visit or call me anymore, and she might not be allowed to pick me up and drive me to appointments. My family would start praying for my repentance, and they would add me to the prayer list under the category “back slidden” at their church. Family parties would be strained and weird. I’m not sure I want to speak my truth to them yet. I don’t know if I’m ready yet, or if they are even ready yet to hear me speak. When the time is right, I will know.
But in the meantime, one thing I do know is that I don’t like hiding who I am. I am ready to start taking steps towards my freedom. The other morning I woke up and sat up in bed and felt so angry. I had barely time to wake up and already I’m angry. I’ve recently started the habit of checking in with myself, asking myself how I feel. I’ve repressed my emotions so much in the past, that I’m rusty at this. So I check in now every half hour or more often, in the hopes that this will eventually become my natural way.
As I sat there, I felt myself saying, “I’m angry.” So I asked myself, “Why are you angry?” And I heard myself say, “I’m angry because I am repressed. Here I sit in my own bed, in my own home, with my own comfortable blankets wrapped around me, and I feel unsafe like I can’t even express myself on my own Facebook Page. I am done with feeling like I have no voice!”
So in the next few days, I de-friended my family members, and instantly I felt lighter. I wrote about what happened on FB, and my online friends were so supportive. I love them all! Their spirits shine true in a way that I don’t pick up on with my family. I’m starting to see other areas in my life where I am still repressed. I can’t define yet what these areas are, as they are foggy. I think I have been so used to not having boundaries, that unhealthy boundaries still seem slightly normal to me. However, I have gotten a taste of freedom, and I want more.