May 27, 2011

Help me lower my hyper-boundaries!?

Some people have trouble saying no, or pushing back, or being in conflict. I don't love it or seek it, but I've been well trained by my parents and by other life adventures to handle those sorts of things.

In fact, last night, I started reading through a journal that my Mom started after I was born. Eventually she went from daily, to monthly, to yearly entries. There was one after my 14th birthday where she talks about how I've been challenging, but how many things she likes about me. Tucked in the pages after that were two letters. In one I'm challenging the household rules about not doing phone calls or visits after 10 pm. It was summer time and I felt that was unfair. I end up listing out 9 rules I was willing to follow (not having the friends call me after 10, being on home premises by then--but allowed to sit on the front steps to talk, 'chores before fun', and 'one hug a day'). Tucked in the letter were a bunch of digs and smart aleck remarks that made me want to smack my 14-year old self! (like, "sometimes I need to talk to a friend after 10 pm. You should know the feeling given how often you run over to otrmama's house at that hour". SMACK!) My mom? Wrote back in a very loving, affirming way, didn't respond to any of the digs, did respond to my underlying concerns, and acknowledged that she found herself resenting how few responsibilities I had compared to how many she'd had as a 14-year old (on a farm with five younger siblings). She ended on a positive note, telling me how much she respects me and wants to trust me.

Talk about amazing training in conflict resolution! There were no bad consequences for addressing what was bothering me. She encouraged me to have healthy boundaries, even as a young kid, "If someone makes you uncomfortable, there's likely a reason for that. You don't have to let them hug you. It's ok to trust your instincts." Over the years though, I think I've developed hyper-boundaries. If you cross them, I've got serious walls that bounce up.

Which brings up Mom K.

Last night, Jrex went to pick her up from the airport since I was frantically prepping for the big moving sale tomorrow. She walked into the apartment, gave me a big hug, said hello, then pulled back and said, "Let me see!" and stuck both her hands on my stomach and felt around. A few minutes later she said to Jrex, in a happy tone, "She's getting fat!" I know some of that is more appropriate in Korean culture (the touching, the comments on physical appearance), but it just threw my walls 10-feet high. She's here for a short visit and I want to enjoy her and be gracious to her, but at the moment, I'm behind my wall and it makes me push back on any attempts at intimacy. I know that I still have sensitivities after her visit last year. Which means there's forgiveness work that I've been avoiding. I guess that means I get to do some of that work this weekend, huh?



Anonymous said...

This was family. When you really start to show, perfect stranger may come up and rub your tummy! Without even asking!

Think of her joy for you with this baby. She wants to share this time with you, we all do. Give grace, and know that you are going to get bigger and you want to, the baby needs the room. Love Aunt LL

Rachel said...

Well, I agree there is definitely some cultural stuff going on there. I hate the word "fat" applied to a pregnant woman, though. Ugh. Can you smile and just sort of mentally go to your happy place? I think having some boundaries is not a bad thing, and anyway, it's good practice for dealing with unsolicited advice after the baby arrives. For some reason, pregnancy/ babies really bring all the cultural differences to the surface. Hang in there. And if it gets bad, maybe your husband can go to bat for you?

Mizasiwa said...

Good luck - i dont have much advise here but i am thinking of you and I hope you can get through it in one piece ;-)

Inkling said...

How did your visit go? I thought about anything wise I could suggest and came up with nothing truly good. I do remember that my own sensitivities and emotions were heightened when I was pregnant, so that all the things people said and did (unsolicited advice, touching the belly, remarking on my figure, etc.) felt so much harder to bear. People said it was just hormonal, but I wonder if maybe it was God actually preparing me to be sensitive and bold enough to be a "good mother bear" when my child actually arrived. I don't really know for sure, but I kind of believe that it did prepare me in that way.

Anyway, even though I don't have any advice to help you get through comments and actions that sting a bit, know that you were in my thoughts and prayers all weekend. I hope it went well and that you were able to love on her and work through some of the stuff that's been bugging your own heart. And I'm praying for you too, when this baby arrives that you will know how to balance the grandma factor when it conflicts with your own God-given mama intuition.

Aimee said...

I can empathize. When I was only 3 months along, one of my co-workers started patting my belly. I wanted to play for her the scene from "Dirty Dancing" where Johnny says, "This is my space, that is your space." :-)

I, too, hate the word "fat" being associated with pregnancy. I know to some it has a good connotation, but not when you're the one being called fat.

I hope the sale went well and that the transition is smooth.