My daughter has a best friend.
This best friend has a very strong personality: always pushing (literally PUSHING) to be the leader, always insisting on doing it HER way first.
"She always makes mad faces at me," my daughter said, "I don't want to play with her anymore."
"What do you think you should do?" I asked.
"Talk to her and tell her that I don't want mad faces made at me anymore."
"That sounds like a good idea to me," I said.
"But I can't," her shoulders fell.
"I'm scared, Mom." she looked so helpless.
"When we do things that scare us, it makes us stronger."
A few days later, she came to me again.
"I talked to her, Mom, about the mad faces."
"Good for you! How did it go?"
"She told me that I should give her 100 chances to make mad faces if she wants."
"How do you feel about that?"
Last night, per tradition, I asked the kids over dinner their favorite and least-favorite parts of the day.
"My favorite part was when my best friend got in trouble for climbing the fence."
"What? Why was that your favorite? Isn't she your friend?" I asked.
"She still keeps doing all those mad faces and always has to be the leader all the time."
This is where my (super protective) husband stepped in.
"If she keeps making those mad faces, just tell her you don't want to play with her anymore... just say 'I want to be your friend and I like you, but you can't treat me like that. If you want to be my friend, you can't treat me badly. If you treat me like that and keep making mad faces at me, I'm going to go play somewhere else. You don't get 100 chances to be mean. I can find new friends.' Bad behavior is not okay."
Two nights ago, my husband worked about 10 hours. He then came home and went to fulfill his calling for over and hour and then was again called out. He came home tired, and as he went to bed I gave him a quick head's up.
"I'm reworking and refining my boundaries, so tomorrow I'd like to go over them with you."
"Why are you redoing them?"
"I felt it was time."
I could tell he wasn't totally thrilled, but he said, "okay" and went to bed.
Yesterday we were barely able to squeeze a conversation in. Indeed, we started it and I had to leave, so we continued it while I was in the car (cell phones are amazing). The conversation finished later that night.
I told him my boundaries were about ME. They were about keeping ME safe. They aren't punishments or offensive weapons. They're my safe place.
I started by reading him my rights (reading my rights to a cop? the irony is not lost on me).
I then read my self-care list to him.
And then I delved into my 11 boundaries -a few of which he was aware, a few of which were new.
When I was done, he asked a few clarifying questions. He pushed back a little -insisting that a few of them were a little harsh.
"Talk with me before you enforce it. Don't just go taking sex off the table without talking it out with me. It's not fair that you hold all the cards when it comes to sex..."
"Of course there's always a chance that I could be stuck in my senseless addict brain when we talk... in which case, you gotta do what you gotta do and ignore me if I'm being a d-bag."
I asked him to be brutally honest about a few things I'd been concerned about.
And he was.
He hugged me, thanked me for sharing with him, and then we ate dinner.
And that's where he told my daughter to stand up for herself, to not be complacent with mistreatment.
At least, that's what her mother does when her live-in best friend starts making mad faces.
Boundaries are not an addiction thing.
Boundaries are a healthy human experience.