Setting boundaries was difficult for me at first. I have this innate wish to help and please other people and I have learned that this is not a good way to behave.
I learned that my behaviour was dictated by my parents who wanted me to be the person they thought I ought to be and did not allow me to be ME. They did the best they could and they meant well, they didn’t abuse me in any way, but they did dictate what I thought, who I spoke to, who I mixed with at school and who I should or shouldn’t be friends with. I was manipulated from a very small child to become who they wanted me to be, to allay their fears that I might become like my birth mother, a sixteen year old single girl who got pregnant at a fair ground by a traveller.
It has therefore taken a lot of work on my behalf and with the help of my coach to change that way of thinking and to start living my life as ME and uncovering the real ME. This has led to some amazing realisations and huge shifts in my consciousness and my perceptions of myself and acknowledgement of my emotions which have been suppressed for so many years.
One of these realisations is that I can live my life in my own way, not be manipulated by anyone, and not feel guilty about it. After all it is my life and I must look after me first, otherwise I can’t possibly look after anyone else.
I have been manipulated in the past by my daughter. She uses emotional blackmail, whether she realises it or not, to get what she wants – and this is usually money. When she and her boyfriend bought their first house I helped out with the deposit. We bought her the basics – a fridge/freezer, cooker, washing machine to go in the house. A year or two later she and her boyfriend got married and we paid for the wedding – to be fair to her she got some very good deals and she had the day that she wanted and that was all that mattered to me for her wedding day.
She then sold her house and bought a flat. She dumped all the kitchen stuff, fridge, cooker, washing machine and started again with new stuff in the flat they had bought. We helped with the moving costs at her request because she had no money.
Then she gave birth to her daughter and we helped out with the usual baby stuff and a whole lot of bits and pieces too. Then her husband decided he wanted to open a cafe and they asked if we could help with the deposit. So we did. The cafe failed after six months.
They decided they wanted to open a sandwich bar, could we help out with the rent – s0 we did – this too failed after a year, basically after the pre-paid rent ran out.
All of the above requests for money were to be ‘loans’. Of course they were never repaid and ran into many thousands of pounds.
Then she gave birth to her son and they decided between them that they would have a year off working to be at home with the children. They applied for every benefit they could and got them. Then they sold their flat at much under the market value and moved into rented accommodation and have moved around a bit since then.
Then came requests for school uniforms for the children, as they needed more things and she had no money. I bought some school uniform items on her behalf on the internet, again expecting to repaid, but nothing was forthcoming.
At this point I decided that if they weren’t going to help themselves then I wasn’t going to help them either. After all she was 30 years old, married with two children.
Inevitably this caused a rift as she felt that I was abandoning her and that I didn’t care and that I didn’t love her. I do love her very much, I do care and I wasn’t abandoning her – she has to live her life as she wants and if that is the life she chooses then I am not responsible, and I do not judge her.
Now she is 34 years old, pregnant again, still has no money and I have agreed to buy a cot for the new baby. I was asked if I would buy anything else too and I have said no.
Although I love my daughter unconditionally, I cannot and will not live her life for her or bail her out any more. I have my own life to lead and my own expenses. My boundaries are set, I am sticking to them and I am living my life as ME. I will not be manipulated or emotionally blackmailed any more.
I cannot be held responsible for somebody else’s life, it is up to my daughter to live the life that she wants, and if this is it, so be it. I am always here for her whenever she needs me to support her in all that she does.
This has been a very hard lesson to learn for me and when the realisation finally came that I was ME, and I had missed out on all those years of being ME because of the manipulation and emotional blackmail from my parents, my first husband, my children etc., I was at first angry and then happy because now I know that everything I am doing is for me first and when I feel good and happy then everyone around me feels the same.
Creedence – Confidence for You
International Confidence Coach, Motivational Speaker, Author