In yesterday’s commitment workshop group discussion we discussed boundaries, how to establish and reinforce them. I’m not about to get into it all here, (cue for you to sign up April’s workshop) but as usual I learned at the same time I was giving a lesson. Reciprocation is a great thing, it really is.
I’ve had to exhibit tough love on more than one occasion during my life. At the time it hurt immensely to be put in a position where I had to make these decisions that appeared to have crippled my life, but after doing so I can say it was for the better.
My tendency to hold on to what is comfortable and what is secure has often caused me to drag out situations that were not healthy. After last night’s workshop, a conversation with one of my closest male friends and my fallout with a particular person the concept of tough love weighs heavy on my spirit and I have to express myself.
One of toughest decisions I ever had to make was to surrender my youngest sister to the system. The original G.I readers know the story. In my first year of college, my mother was removed from our home and I assumed the position of full time caregiver of my two younger sisters. My middle sister ended up doing the independent living thing, but my youngest sister who I am 11 years older than, remained in my care.
Here I was at the brink of adulthood yet my nights consisted of preparing dinner and making sure homework was done. I loved looking after her and I never once wanted to be this crazy early twenties wild child. It became burdensome at times and I remember one of the lowest points came when I had to step foot in a welfare office.
Conflicts became a daily thing as she entered her teens as a 20-something did not have the same effect and authority as a mother twice her age would have. Our relationship was in the trenches and over a month I saw her school attendance decline to the point where the school and authorities became involved.
She went to live in strangers homes and I was distraught, she was devastated. It was years of moving around, trying to play mediator and just doing the most.
She’s not an angel, I can’t tell you things have been perfect but I’m proud to announce that she has recently graduated highschool and is excited about her future.
It took me a long time to get over the guilt I felt and it trickles over into other areas of my life. I love my family and friends and I’m sure you do to, but please remember that your needs must come first.
When we don’t take care of ourselves first, we actually hurt those around us. We teach them that it is OK to ignore your well-being and to suck it up. We teach them that we don’t need love reciprocated. Not putting yourself first actually teaches people to ignore your needs.
I had to let go of someone who refuses to put themselves first, I see people in unloving homes and relationships because they refuse to take care of themselves first.
In order to attract that good love, you have to get used to giving that tough love.
What’s the hardest decision you have ever had to make? Do you worry about being the bad guy in your relationship or family?