Choose In Podcast with Roxanne Kennedy Granata
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May 4, 2020

Episode 16: Healthy Boundaries Show an Acceptance of Reality

“Stop asking why they keep doing it, and start asking yourself why you keep allowing it”


Today, we're going to be asking ourselves a lot of questions. We need to get to the bottom of what is the reality for us, and how we can navigate through the lies we tell ourselves, what we actually want to believe what the truth is, and how to get to a place of peace. Boundaries are the way to peace and healing. Boundaries are scary sometimes, because we don't always get what we want with them. Sometimes, we get the exact opposite of what we think we are striving for. However, even in that boundaries actually offer us safety and peace.

I was thinking about this because I was going through and pondering and processing why we do the things we do? And I've lately been re-reading my book Cutting Ties. I do that periodically, to stay engaged with my belief system, what I went through what I learned, it helps me to connect to you if you are in a place where I have been before. So I do that so that I remember how it felt. And I remember what the tools were. They continue to help me today even so I can look at boundaries in my book, or I can look at when I'm trying to control something, even in my life currently; and it helps me to remember Oh, yeah, that's right. I don't want to control anything.

It doesn't offer me peace. In fact, it actually makes me feel more chaotic inside. I'm sure that makes sense to you. I'm sure you walk around sometimes feeling so anxious and chaotic, that you don't even know what to do. Generally that feeling of chaos comes from a false sense of control; something that we think we can manage or navigate or we can we think we can somehow do something that will make the outcome different, and then we're going to be okay. That's control. So as I was thinking about that, I also came across a quote on Facebook, about healthy boundaries.

It says stop asking why they keep doing it and start asking yourself, why you keep allowing it. And this was so true for me. This is something that took me so many years to finally, understand that I was allowing certain things to happen based out of fear of the outcome being something that I didn't want. This honestly, was one of the hardest things that I had to conquer. Because the lie that we tell ourselves, that it's them, and we don't have a choice. Things like well, they are choosing this and they are doing that, which puts you in a place of victim. We don't want to be victims, right?

We want to be people have action. And we want to change and progress and become whole. So that does that when we say, well, they're doing this and they're doing that. And that gives us no choice to do anything else we have to stay. Or we have to go along with what they're doing or thinking, then we're not seeing where we are in all of this. So where are we in all of this?  What we allow to happen, we are saying that we accept it. So with boundaries, this is kind of a way to let other people know what we will and won't allow. And of course, this is all about gaining strength. And if you've read my book cutting ties, you'll see that I did the same thing over and over and over.

It was like the same scenario has happened. And I'm sure you're thinking Why are you still doing the same thing over and over. It's just the nature of it until we let go of how we think the outcome needs to be, we're going to be in that cycle. We're just going to stay in that spin constantly until we do something different. So gaining strength to act if our boundaries are either disregarded or crossed, we'll begin the healing we want and the healing that we deserve. So the thing is that sometimes those boundaries will bring the outcome that we're hoping for.

I've seen it I've seen it a lot of times and even in some of the boundaries that I placed for a few moments or a few days I would get the outcome that I wanted. The outcome that I wanted was for my husband who was struggling with addiction, to do the recovery work; to choose into me to want our marriage to want to recover from addiction so that we could stay together. He had prepared fest to our counselor so many times that he just wanted our 17 years back of marriage.

The 17 years was the years that I didn't know there was an addiction. So he wanted that back. He didn't like the 18th 19th 20th and 21st year. He didn't like that, because it was hard, it was painful, and the truth was out. But he did love our family. And he did love me, and he did love our relationship. But when I'm looking at it with truthful eyes, and with clarity, that no longer feels okay for me to be with somebody now that I know the truth, if they're not going to do the work. So in lots of cases, placing a boundary of saying something like, if you treat me that way, if you emotionally say hurtful things, if you verbally abuse me, if you act out in addiction, this is what I'm going to do for myself to keep me safe.

It may be that you sleep in a different room, or they sleep in a different room. It may be a separation, it may even be filing of divorce, if that's your non negotiable boundary. If they've had an affair, again, maybe you already have decided that that is not something you're going to live through with them again. And so your boundaries, divorce. Whatever it is, acting on those boundaries and keeping them meaning they cross them, they don't do what you've already asked them to do, and now you have to hold to the consequence that you've set so that you keep yourself safe.

So when we hold to it, at times, I've seen this happen, and many of my friends, their partner does see Oh, wow, okay, she's serious. She really is not going to let me get away with these things anymore. Well, what do I want? What do I want? Do I want my family? Do I want her? Do I want my addiction? What is it and then they make a choice. And in many circumstances, those boundaries of you keeping yourself safe and acting with strength helps them because now they have a choice to make, and they can choose to catch up to you.

Now in other cases, that is not what happens. As in mine, that isn't me holding boundaries really just showed the hurtful truth. So the truth comes out. That's not what he chose. He acted like he was choosing the boundaries, but then I would find out differently. I would either feel it or I would see it. I would notice it the way he treated me or I would find different evidence that showed that he was acting out. Either way, my boundaries, actually were showing me what the truth was. And when we act on our boundaries and keep the consequences, even that even knowing the truth keeps us safe, because it sets us free.

And we're able to look at it and go, Okay, I've got to come to an acceptance that this is what it is. So if you can look at your spouse or your partner, and think if they don't change anymore, if they don't choose into recovery of their addiction, if they don't stop their abusive behaviors towards me or towards our family; If you ask the question, can I live with them another day? Can I live with them and 10 years from now, if they're still the same?

These are the questions that you need to start asking yourself so that you can start seeing clear. Because what happens is, we want peace. And if we really want peace, we have to do the work to get it. And sometimes that work is really painful. And the peace doesn't come till after the fact. But it does come from letting go, setting healthy boundaries that keep us safe, and acting on what the actions of others are showing us and not making choices based on what we really, really, really, really want the answer to be. I really, really, really wanted the answer to be that he picked me.

That he wanted us so that we could be together always that we could have grandchildren together, that we could live our lives together, and that the good parts of our relationship could flourish. And we could add other parts of a relationship that are now also healthy. But that is not what happened for me. But that's what I really wanted. That's what kept me in the same cycle over and over. That's what kept me in that place of if I set a boundary and he doesn't like it, then what? I'm stuck because I wasn't ready to let him go.

Peace does not come from forcing someone to be something. Peace comes from letting God show us the truth and using him to help us through all the painful things we come to acknowledge and accept. So he's the one. Seeing clearly and living in this truth and the truth of what your situation is, is how you become free. How you become peaceful. Hopefully you'll get the answer that you want. I really hope you do. But what I've learned from God, as I've talked with him about how hard it was in the work that it involved, and that the answer wasn't what it was, It's left me with some feelings of distrust and it's also left me feeling like Oh, if I work on something else, how do I know that it's gonna work?

How do I know that it's not going to be ripped out from under underneath me? And my answer from him, this was very recent was just kind of like an awakening for me. He said, in that case before, when you were trying for something, and you were praying with me, and we were trying to do things and have an outcome of staying together, there was another person's agency involved. It was not just you. Therefore, I couldn't just give you all the things that you were fighting for. Because the things that I was fighting for were good things. I wanted my marriage to work. Right? I wanted to be together forever.

I wanted my children raised by both of us, and I wanted us to be healthy and happy. So there's nothing wrong with what I wanted. But he couldn't make someone else do it. And so the agency of someone else was at play. And so even though I had to work so hard for my sanity, for peace for my family, for my marriage, and it didn't have the outcome that I wanted, I still gained so much. I built my relationship with him more than I ever had. I grew a love for the scriptures, because I found so much help and healing in the scriptures. And I learned new tools and had an awakening, even with what addiction is, what my weaknesses are in, in trying to save someone else, which is codependent behavior. And in seeing what is my part and what isn't; what my job is, and what isn't, what my role is and what it's not.

All those things gained me so many things in so much clarity. And so I still got great things out of it. But then you take me out of that, and things are good and my life is moving forward and I want to do new things, and I want to do good things;  I have this fear that it's kind of the same thing, when you're waiting for the other shoe to drop with a partner that is an addict, it's kind of the same feeling as feeling like the rug is going to be pulled out from under you. So I had to talk with God about that I had to heal where I was feeling a little nervous to trust him that he's got me on this path that he's not going to take away from me.

What he was telling me was, it felt like that before, like the work doesn't always pay off or it doesn't work, you do all that stuff, you almost kill yourself by how much work you're doing. Yet you don't get the outcome you want. But the work still doesn't go unnoticed. In this situation, though, having come from a place where I worked so hard, and it didn't work in the way I thought. Here I am now moving forward, and he's having me do these new things that he's giving me every single day. I now have to create a new belief that things will be okay. And what he was telling me was, this is different. This is all based on you and your personal agency. And if you listen to me or not; which I am listening to him.

He tells me he does want to help me move forward. He doesn't want to give me things to do. And he does want me to make a difference. And so if I look at it from a place of trauma of what the past is, then I'm just going to stay stuck and not be able to do the things he's asking. But if I look at it with clarity of what and awareness that it's not like he didn't let me keep my marriage. And it's not like he made that happen. It's that that's just what happened because another person's agency. So as we look into your situation, what kind of questions do you need to ask yourself? You may even need to write these down and feel what comes up for you.

Now I will let you know that if one of the questions for some reason, stirs up emotion or stirs up your heart is racing, your body starts shaking. That's a trauma response. That means probably on that question, or that thought you have trauma around. Now if the other questions if they just kind of promote a sense of Hmm, okay. Yeah, actually, I feel like that, or that makes sense. That's my situation, then you're just coming from a place of learning. And you can consciously work on that and change whatever lies you're telling yourself into new beliefs that you have.

But if it is trauma, then those kinds of things, it's hard to get to a place of peace and healing when trauma is in the way. It's the same with addiction. It's hard to talk and communicate and build a healthy relationship if addiction is in the way. It's the same with trauma. It kind of has the same effect. So if there's trauma in the way still for you, I would advise you to speak with a counselor, or do energy work on the trauma because energy workers clear trauma. Let's talk about some questions. Are you trying to do the work for both you and your partner? First question, right? Are you? Think about it. Is what you're doing for the sole purpose of saving both of you?

If that's true, think about your intentions. Think of about that, that is controlling another person. And really don't you want it to be that your partner chooses into the relationship themselves? That's like the best case scenario, right? They're going to choose into this with me. That's what we want. That's what promotes healing. So are they? Are they doing the work that promotes healing? And that is a positive, forward movement with your relationship. If not, then you have some things to talk to yourself about.

Why are you taking the control of saving someone else? What is it? I'm sure there's a lot of fear, maybe it's kids, you'll have to probably unpack that piece yourself and figure out what it is that is keeping you driving towards making something happen. The next question is, you've noticed that your spouse is detached, isn't doing the work isn't healthy, continues to verbally manipulate and abuse and treat you like you're the one that has the problems, and that you will make his life hard and that's why he's acting out in addiction. If that's what's happening, ask yourself, does that feel positive? Is that okay that you're being treated that way? Would you want your children being treated that way? Or your friends being treated that way?

If not, then ask yourself more questions. Why am I feeling like I don't have a choice, and I'm staying with this person, even though they're treating me this way? What boundaries Have I not set or not held to that would say, I deserve to be treated right and I want to be treated right? Now the thing is, is, no matter how we're being treated, if we're in a relationship, usually, it's because we really love this person, or we think that we, for some reason, can't be without this person. So this is not about hate. And this is not about just giving up. This is about really uncovering what's happening. So that we can set the correct boundaries for ourselves, so that we can get happy and healthy and have a positive relationship, which only affects for good.

It affects us better, and our children. Our children get to grow up in a healthy home. So when we're asking ourselves these questions, know that there's no right or wrong answer. It's just a matter of feeling, and understanding where you're coming from what your relationship is, and only God knows if your spouse is going to do the work and if you're going to do the work to heal. So both of us are in this we're both trying to heal, but who is and who isn't. So if you're being treated badly, why are you not holding boundaries? What are you scared of? And if you are holding boundaries, and they're getting crossed, what is that keeping you from saying, I shouldn't be here right now with this person, if he keeps crossing my boundaries? If he's not respecting me as a person and wanting to treat me right, why am I allowing this to happen?

Because if you're not changing it, you are choosing it. And it's a hard thing to take in sometimes. But if we aren't changing what's happening, we're essentially saying we're accepting it, and that it's somehow okay. And it's not okay. Because abuse in any form is not okay. So if your spouse is doing that, ask yourself that and ask yourself what you need, what kind of things you can do to gain the strength to stand up for yourself, and ask for what you really want? And then ask yourself if he does not want to give me what I want. If he doesn't want to create a safe environment, what do I need to do next?

As you kind of uncover those things, ask yourself those specific question, it will help you gain the strength you need, so that you can act from a place of clarity and truth. And God will help you with that. He will show you what the intention is of your spouse. Like with mine, my husband's intention was not to go any farther than halfway. He liked the middle of the road. He liked doing what he wanted when he wanted. Those are his words, he liked living in the middle of honesty. I believe I've told you this story before.

When we were in a counseling session, probably a few months before I ended up choosing divorce. The Counselor asked him to rate himself on certain behaviors of recovery. There was a list of addict behaviors and a list of recovery behaviors. If you're living recovery, this is how you're acting if you're living in addiction, this is how you're acting. So he asked him to rate himself on certain things and on honesty, he rated himself a five, the counselor says, okay, so you rated yourself a five so you can see then, that that makes it really difficult for Roxanne to have to discern every time you say something, whether you're lying or you're being honest.

And he said, you guys, you should be happy. This is good. A five is good because I used to be a one. Now I turned to him and I said you know what? I would totally celebrate with you and be like, Oh my gosh, you have done so amazing, you are a five and you used to be a one, if you aspire to be a 10. But the fact that five is good enough for you does not leave me in a safe place. That does not tell me, I can trust you, that doesn't tell me that I can relax and know that you have my best interest at heart. That tells me that you can be lying at any moment anytime. And I don't know for sure.

So it's things like that, when you really see what's happening, and you really see the intent of your partner, you can make better decisions. And you can start seeing what the truth is. Now, God might not be able to save your relationship. He might be able to because he might nudge your partner along and they will make those choices to heal. He gave those tools to my husband. He gave him every opportunity to do this work. But it's just not something that he wanted to do. He liked the way he was living, I have to come to an acceptance about that. But that doesn't mean it would be okay for me to stay.

Now I'm sure for some of you, you feel totally different that you can stay. It's really up to you. I stayed for as long as I possibly could. And I honestly wish that I had learned these tools earlier that I was able to accept them earlier so that I could have left sooner. But that's not what happened. So I kept learning and growing and relearning the same things over and over until I finally was able to go, Wow, okay, this keeps happening over and over. He does not put me as a priority and keeping me safe. He's still doing what he wants. And that puts me too low on the list where I rank with him. And that wasn't okay with me. And so then I was able to move forward with God and and keep learning.

What about if your spouse is trying, your partner is doing the work they want to heal, and it's just a really bumpy road? Well, it will be bumpy, because you even know with healing, healing trauma is really bumpy. One day, we're okay, we've let go of things, nothing's bothering us anymore. And then this wave comes back and hits us and we are an emotional wreck, we feel so anxious and chaotic, and all the pain comes bubbling back up again. And we can't believe it, we're just sobbing our guts out. And I cannot believe you did that, to me, I cannot believe that happened. I cannot believe any of it. And we're in so much pain.

The same thing happens with your partner that struggles with addiction, all of their stuff, and their feelings and their fears are also going to be bubbling up. But if you both are doing the work, which could mean lots of different things. For me, it was 12 step work, it was counseling, and then I added an energy work. Those things are what brought me to recovery. And those are the things that my husband at that time was also doing, yet he didn't choose to do the work fully. So again, if your spouse is doing it fully, I'm just so excited for you.

Because the growth that comes from doing something healing something so crazy and so; where you guys were just down to the ground to the dirt. And watching both people do the work, your love is going to it's going to be through the roof. You're going to love each other so much more going through those hard things together. There were times even in mind where I felt like we loved each other so much because we had gone through hell. And we were still standing and we were working on it. What I didn't know during those times is that he wouldn't continue to keep working on it, that he would decide it was too much or too hard.

In those moments, it felt amazing to overcome something so hard together. So if you're there, that is awesome. If you are also there in that place, and you're finding that you are still having so many trauma responses are so many triggers are it's hard for you to let go. It's it's hard for you to forgive, then write down what it is that you're fearing about forgiving? Or what it is that's holding you back? Or why do the triggers keep coming up and bothering you? Is it because just it's old wounds? Or is it because you still feel like you're not totally safe?

Whatever those are, those are things you can take to counseling and figure out what's going on. If you have a healthy partner, you can even have those conversations with that person. Boundaries are also something that I didn't understand. When I was first introduced to boundaries by one of my counselors that I had had, I really had never heard the concept. It also felt foreign and it felt backward. It felt like I was being mean and I wasn't having empathy for my spouse. It felt like I was being vindictive or something. I was looking at it that these things are against him. Not like I'm his partner.

I had to learn that difference. And that's not something that I can personally teach you. It's something that you're going to have to learn for yourself by asking yourself questions, reading books about boundaries, there's even workbooks. If your counselor is a CSAT Counselor, they have workbooks about boundaries. If your counselor is an addiction therapist or a trauma therapist, they have things to show you that as well. So learning how to think about boundaries is key. Because then you realize that it's not against the person, you're holding boundaries, so that you can love the person and so that you can build a healthy marriage.

As you do that, and start to uncover what those are, then you're going to feel safer, and you're going to feel more peace, even living with an addict. So when you're holding boundaries, you can actually feel okay and not have to manage what they are or aren't doing, because you're keeping yourself safe. For me, that ended up being separation. I chose in house separation, because the behaviors that were happening, were inconsistent with honesty, and it was making me feel stressed every single day. And so I chose in house separation. And that gave me my space to work on things to feel clear to if something happened, I could go in that space and pray and read and come to a place of, Okay, this is what's happening. This is why I'm feeling this. Do I need different boundaries? Do I need to change anything? What What do I need to feel safe?

Sometimes it was just my own personal work. And sometimes it was setting another boundary. But as I did that, I learned who I was what I deserved. And even those boundaries, even if they weren't just set, they would naturally come out in protecting myself. There was one scenario where we were separated. And I had, we'd gone to my son's basketball game in like, middle school or something. And somehow I left my phone there. It either fell out of my pocket, or I had it sitting on the bench, I'm not sure. But it was like a Saturday night. We just couldn't even figure out how we were going to get it. And I was I was stressed.

I didn't know what to do. I was thinking, Oh, it's going to be there all weekend. Who knows? Kids are going to come there on on Monday, and it's middle school, so I may never get it back. So I was really overwhelmed. And we were not in a great place at this point. We were separated. He was not necessarily doing great things, as far as recovery work went. Without me even asking he started making phone calls asking people that lived close to that school. Hey, do you know who could open the school for us? Does anybody have a kid you know who the custodian is? Anyway, he did all this work. We came home, he kept figuring it out for me.

He got a hold of a person, a custodian said he would meet us over there. We went over there, and we got my phone. I was feeling so grateful. I was feeling very connected. I felt like, wow, this feels so good that he was helping me. I just felt all this love for him. And even though we were separated, the whole goal of separation was not to get divorced. The goal was to recover and heal and still come together. And so I told him Wow, on our way home, I just said, well, thank you so much like I am feeling so much love for you. I don't know how you're feeling about me right now.

I would love it if we could spend some time together later, intimately. It had been a while, right? We were separated. And I was feeling all this love. And when you feel love, you want to be with your person. And you want to show and share that love. So I said if you can tell me some things that you love about me or that how you care about me or anything like that, I would definitely consider wanting to be with you. And he said okay, and he didn't say anything. And then we come home and he sits down and turns the TV on and starts watching sports. And this is written in cutting ties. But I was like What in the world? Like, this is crazy.

We've been separated for a while and I'm wanting to be with him and he sits down and watch sports. I started processing through what was wrong in me that I was needing to feel validated by a list of him telling me what was okay. What he liked about me what what feelings he had towards me that would make me feel safe enough to want to be with him intimately. So I started processing through Okay, why do I need his validation? Why am I looking for it? If I don't feel safe without it, I shouldn't have to ask my partner to tell me or show me love. I should already know it if it's healthy.

I was processing my own weaknesses, my own insecurities, my own codependent behaviors when he was watching TV. A little while later, he comes to my door and I come out and he leans forward to me starting to hug me and I said, Hey, wait, what are you doing? He goes, I love you. And he leans in as if we're moving forward. And I just said, Wait, you can't tell me any reasons why you love me or why you care about me so that doesn't It really makes sense for me. And he goes, Well,  I do, I just don't have anything to say. And I said, Okay, you're right. And I said, Good night, and I closed my door.

That boundary came up for me, even though one wasn't set. Meaning I was able to acknowledge what happened. I acknowledged in my own self where I fell short and what was going on? And what would make me feel safe was to not be with somebody that night. And the reason was, is because it wouldn't feel okay later. It would be disconnected. I would feel used the next day would go back to just the way it was, and it would feel like a one night stand, which is not what I wanted, and would not have felt Okay. Holding those boundaries, not saying Oh, yes, come in, just because he came to the door, and me wanting to be with someone; wanting to be with him wanting to share that experience, having boundaries for myself just automatically came up because I had been practicing them.

So hopefully that makes sense and gives you a little bit of understanding of standing up for who you are keeping yourself safe. But doing it out of love. Doing it with connection, not trying to hinder or be mean, but just keeping yourself in that safe place that will really help you. So as you go through some of those questions that we talked about, ask yourself even more questions. There'll be something different that pops up for you. because your story is not the same as mine. Whatever it is, maybe write them down these questions that you're asking yourself, where the fear is coming from, or what it is you're feeling, are you angry, stressed, fearful, sad, and write down different key things of what is coming up for you, when you ask yourself that question.

And then look at those answers that you have, and see what it is you need to overcome those feelings to heal those feelings, to know how to move forward with those feelings. See, if that means that you need a counseling session, or you need to read some things or pray. And and do that. Do that so that you can heal and that you can be happy. And that you can gain the direction that you need so that you're acting from a place of confidence and safety and healing rather than a place of fear and loss. And you don't know what you're going to do if the outcome doesn't work out the way that you're planning.

It doesn't always work out the way you're planning. But that doesn't mean life can't be good after that doesn't mean God doesn't show up and gift you things and show you things that are a positive result of you being strong, and learning to see clear what your situation is, and how you're supposed to handle it and navigate. The thing is, is God loves us. He loves you. He loves your spouse. He wants us to choose him. He wants us to treat each other well. He wants his children to be loved and nurtured and cared for. If you are not being loved, nurtured and cared for and if you are not loving and nurturing and caring for yourself, look at what's going on.

Look at why you feel it's okay to be abused in those situations or why you feel it's okay to abuse yourself and figure those things out. He is with you. There are so many resources. Even if you don't have a counselor, look up things online that would help you that would answer your questions. Listen to podcasts, read books, pray and pray and pray. And you will find the answers and the truth that you need. And then as you develop those strengths, you'll be able to handle what those truths are and you'll be able to move forward and come to a place that feels good that you feel okay. That's not what I wanted. But I feel good and it's the right decision. Or work so hard, they work so hard and you get to be together. Either way. God is with you and whatever the outcome is, as long as you do your work and your part, you're going to be okay and I'll see you next time.

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