Thursday, 3 May 2012

Learning to draw boundaries

Finally, with my Internet working, I'm here writing. This week, I learnt a very important lesson. A lesson, life has been trying to teach me since childhood. Standing up for what I believe is right.

You see, in all my relationships, existing and exes, there is a pattern I followed. I never made clear boundaries. I allowed people to push me into corners and do as they please.I wanted to be peaceful, and so I hardly ever put my foot down, till things got really out of hand. I thought, if I continued being nice ( submissive), these people would somehow like me and if they like me, they will care about my feelings.This never happened, on the contrary, I carried feelings of being unjustly treated. Thankfully, the path I've been walking, helps me and helps me help others. Being aware of patterns and how to get out of them, has enabled me to clear out a lot of clutter and baggage from my life. What it also did, was make me realise, the past does not blow away. If there are unresolved things there, it just come right back at you, till you, do, what it is you're meant to do, as in my case, it was learning to draw boundaries and making people understand, I mean it when I say NO. The middle ground between being aggressive and passive is Polite assertiveness.This is how I finally I'm in the middle of learning Polite Assertiveness....

Now then, this situation would be easier for me to write about, if I only wrote it from my point of view, the problem is I can't. In this situation, everyone is, from their perspective , in the right. Let me start from the very beginning. My ex husband and I haven't seen eye to eye on a lot of issues. We did however agree on one thing, the happiness of our son is paramount. I felt, it was important for us to stay on friendly terms in spite of our divorce for the sake of our son. I felt, we need to stay in touch either over the phone or via email, so as to be on the same page about his upbringing.I thought, its important both parents say the same guidelines to the child, to minimise confusion.Implement the same rules.  He however ,thought, I was no longer in the picture.

I have the full custody of my son, and my ex husband has been out of the country for over a year and a half. While he was here, much though , it was uncomfortable for me, I sent my sent over to his place every weekend, so that their bond does not suffer.After he left the country, I continued to send my son, to visit his grandparents every weekend. I did this, despite my loneliness, my empty weekend. i wanted my son to experience the unconditional love only grand parents can give. I have missed out on that love, having never seen any of my grand parents. I thought I was doing the right thing. They are wonderful to him. My next blog "A letter to grandparents" ,will shed more light on this aspect.

Coming back to my ex husband. The more submissive I became, during the proceedings of the divorce and after that, somehow made him feel, he can bully me into complying every time.He forgot, it was my prerogative, who can meet my son. He forgot that, I was working very hard, on raising a well disciplined son, and that takes a lot of firmness. I was the one left to deal with all the growing up angst and questions my son had. i tried to always give him a correct picture of the situations. He by the grace of God, is a well settled child.

His relationship with his father became a couple of hours a week over skype. I was not privy to what happened during these conversations , as he spoke only when my son was at his parents house. All my attempts to be involved were treated with high-handedness and ignored. Now, my ex-husband, before moving out of this country, got re-married. I was happy for him. His wife seemed highly educated and having worked with children, knew how to placate them. She however has heard only one side of the story. The version of my ex husband. She followed suit and started treating me like an invisible entity, she had to put up with. In my presence, she would pull aside my son, ignoring me. Without going into further details, let it suffice to say, she crossed her boundaries with me. She forgot to respect the fact that I was the mother, and invaded a place that was not hers. Now my son, is at a very impressionable age. Any one who treats him with leniency becomes his best friend. Expensive gifts, giving in to his tantrums, ignoring the time table I've st for his healthy well being, when ignored, makes him feel powerful.He started learning, its ok to ignore the rules set by mom. Its ok to insist someone sleep with him, not eat food on time or even flout the rule of studying/reading for an hour every day. See leniency makes you popular, but, it also weakens the child's foundations. He slowly turns against the mother, who he perceives as the "bad cop".

My ex husband's wife came to India this week. I said NO, I do not want my son to spend so much, un- supervised time with her. She takes no permissions from me, about what' ok with me via-a-vis my son's upbringing. She needs to first let me get to know her. Make her understand just a very few of my thoughts on child raising . ( she is no yet a mother herself, so perhaps does not understand, worrying comes with my job description). i would have appreciated an effort on her part to join hands with me in becoming one of the care givers to my son. Yet my ex husband and she just took it as their right to push me aside and do just as they pleased with my son. The break down of the communication, because they assumed I had no role to play, just as long he was with them was not acceptable to me. When I said NO, its my right , to decide who meets or doesn't meet my son, a huge furor happened. My son was led to believe i do not like the lady in question. i don't even know her, how can I like or dislike her. My whole problem was I don't know her, how can I trust my son with her, for long periods of time. After all wasn't she behind my son's brain wash about living abroad and going to school there?

I learnt something very important this week. Had I not cowered before, has I not let go of my rights so easily during my marriage and during the divorce, he would not have taken me so lightly. Had I insisted right from the start, that I be updated on what they were doing together, what they spoke about or that they needed my permission before taking my son to visit outside people, I might not have had to fight to hard, to say a simple NO. had I insisted, that my ex husband needs to let me interact and get to know his new wife, things would not have got so much out of hand.

Raising, a child is no easy feat. Every day is filled with challenges, sacrifices, added responsibilities. If the people involved in raising the child, no matter how sporadically do not learn to respect the boundaries of each other and the primary care giver, there will be a breakdown. I am back to square one trying to make my son, understand NO, to understand, he needs to sleep alone, to do his hand writing and math practise everyday, if he wants to continue being an A grader. I've had to explain to him why he has to respect mom, even though his father doesn't and his grandparents don't adhere to time tables.I'm having to work all over again to make him stop using tears to get his way every time he wants out of some thing....I just hope, who ever is reading this, whatever your situation may be. Regarding an existing relationship with parents, spouse, children boss or colleagues, the earlier you draw you boundaries, no matter how hard it is for you, the lesser mess there will be later. You're responsible for being treated callously or like a door mat. It upto to you to make your limits clear.Its totally up to you what you're ok and not ok with. Just like you've learnt to live with the idiosyncrasy of other, so they with learn to live with yours....

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