Monday, July 11, 2011

Right Rude

Sometimes my new discoveries in recovery take up so much of my attention that I seem to forget about my manners in my growing new sense of confidence and dedication to a lifestyle of rigorous honesty.  Someone asked me the other day, "So, if you're learning to love yourself enough to set boundaries ... you have to be rude to people?"

Hm.  It's worth examination.  

Often, when a person starts setting limits and saying no to people who are used to the old way of interacting with him or her, it is perceived as being rude, or blunt, or even 'hanging onto the past.'  It's hard to explain what finding one's voice for the first time in one's life means to someone who has never stood up for him or herself before.  And yes, sometimes to set boundaries it's necessary to be somewhat forceful - because family members and longtime friends might not 'get it' right off the bat. And it's a never-ending learning process; sometimes I go too far and other times, not far enough.  The results let me know which is which.  If I listen to God instead of going off on a tangent ... I might be able to determine just how much is enough.  Or when to remain silent and be thought a fool.

As a general rule though, there are a lot of myths out there about what kind of behavior is acceptable.  A lot of misconceptions exist surrounding what certain things mean.

Take the common expression, "Forgive and forget."  Some people think that this forgetting is part of forgiving.  Let me assure you from experience (not only from a lifetime of that kind of thinking but more recently from experiencing true forgiveness) that it doesn't necessarily follow.  I can forgive someone for abusing me but it doesn't mean that I will go to that person with arms open and eyes tight shut and place myself in a position to be abused again. That would be insanity!  

Using a more day-to-day example, if someone consistently crosses the same line (let's say, being super-pushy and manipulative) over and over again, that person can be forgiven, yes.  But that same person must also be told what is wrong, and allowed to bear the natural consequences of his or her own actions; if not, he or she might never come to an understanding that the behavior is unacceptable.  Part of that equation is not trusting the person to not repeat the pattern.  

Forgiveness does not equal trust; forgiveness is given ... and trust is earned.  

When I set a boundary to protect myself from future hurt, and say "no more" to that person, he or she WILL perceive it as me "holding a grudge."  It's inevitable. This is a natural reaction from someone who wants to maintain the status quo, to continue having a whipping-boy.  Might doesn't make right; bullies must be stopped.  It's okay to say no.  Looking after oneself is not selfish. This is truth that will counter the myth that to be 'nice' one must also be a 'doormat.'  As one person said to me recently, the only people who need a doormat are those with dirty feet.  

It is possible to do the right thing, and still appear to be rude.

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