Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Caregiver Wednesdays- The why of boundaries


Barbara was at her wit's end. She had made the difficult decision to give up a job in finance to look after her mother. She knew she'd be alright financially, but wondered if she could really fulfil that role in her mother's life. She'd prayed about it, and it seemed the right thing to do.

But now, several months into it, she was frustrated. Beyond that, there were times she was angry at the demands her mother made on her. Then she felt guilty. Then she cried.

Barbara needs to build a fence. Remember: good fences make good neighbours? This applies to many relationships. Anyone in your life that starts knocking down fences and barging onto your lawn is  someone with whom you will have a strained relationship.

Think about personal space. Everyone has a boundary in how close you want other people to come. When I am on a packed subway and mushed against people I wouldn't normally get up close and personal with, I don't make eye contact. It's a way for both of us to create some kind of boundary.

Years ago, I knew someone who got closer to me than I was comfortable with. As she talked to me, I would subltly back up, until I felt the wall at my back. I asked a friend, "Why does she do that?" The answer was simple. Her personal space was closer than mine.

Back to boundaries. Someone like Barbara has to realize that even though she is full time caregiver for her mother, she can't (and shouldn't) try to meet all her needs.

Why?

1) Barbara will go nuts.
2) It fosters an unhealthy relationship. Nobody should be at another person's beck and call.
3) Mother needs other relationships in her life. She needs other people meeting her needs and (radical thought) she needs to give to thers.
4) Both Barbara and her mother will be happier with some boundaries.

Next week...the how of boundaries.

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