It’s been almost a year. Last January, I set a boundary for myself. A new boundary. A productive boundary.
I have set other boundaries for myself. I thought they would keep me safe. Many of them did just the opposite and put me in grave danger. I lived by a set of rules I developed to keep me from being hurt, physically and emotionally. The rules determine when, where and how I set boundaries. One of the rules tells me, “Don’t trust anyone.” By not being willing to trust I set myself up to be skeptical, paranoid at times, and to keep everyone at a distance. This one rule led to dysfunctional relationships and behaviors. Some rules convinced me there was no hope and death was a viable escape.
In the last 11 years setting “good” boundaries has become possible, although not easy. The good boundaries set a limit, a line drawn in the dirt, which I will not go beyond. An example might be something like: “Drinking (alcohol) is not an option.” It tells me where I cannot, will not go. Setting a boundary like that is healthy. Making unhealthy behaviors not an option has kept me from crossing the line in several areas of my life. Eleven years ago I made alcohol use not an option. Any time I think a drink sounds good, I dismiss the thought because it is not an option.
A few years ago I decided self-harming behaviors were also not options. The thoughts still come, but they don’t keep running around in my head gaining power with each turn. The boundary is there, like a fence. I can see through it, and see the consequences of my behavior, without jumping into the desperation before looking. The fence keeps me safe. I will not hurt myself. No more to think about on that subject. It is not an option.
Last January, I set another boundary. Suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide and/or planning ways to commit suicide) is no longer an option. I hung onto thinking suicide was okay for a long time. It felt like the last thing I had “control” over. I could determine whether to live or not. I could decide to leave this world permanently. I got so wrapped up in lessening my pain – emotional pain – I didn’t see the pain my death would cause my children, husband, friends, siblings, and my mom. I have heard people say that suicide is a selfish act. In some ways it is, but what outsiders cannot see is the depth of pain and desperation, and the sense of worthlessness and uselessness (“They will be better off without me . . .“) It took me a while to see how suicidal thinking was adding to the problem and not a solution to the problem. I’ve heard it put this way: It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Last January I made a commitment, a promise, in writing, that I would not allow suicidal ideation to be an option for dealing with the pain in my life. Thinking about suicide had been a well used past time for as long as I can remember. I made it a six-month commitment. When June came around, I didn’t know if I wanted to continue the commitment. After talking to several people I came to the conclusion that suicide had not been a problem in those six months because I had promised not to cross the boundary line my commitment had put in place. I recommitted to making suicidal ideation not an option – for another six months.
So that brings me to now. It’s December and in a couple of days the last six-month commitment will expire. I will have to determine what I’m willing to commit to for the next six months (maybe I can stretch it out to a year?)
This is not meant to be about doom and gloom. It is about the hope we have in the Savior. Who does not give up on us, even when we give up on ourselves. Check in next week to see what I decide.