Saturday, April 08, 2006

setting boundaries

Sometimes it seems to me that most people's problems arise out of a lack of healthy boundaries. God knows most of MY problems have come about because of this. My family is so freaking dysfunctional, Mo's shocked I didn't grow up to be a serial-killer. That bad. I don't even talk to my mother anymore. My stomach knots up at the thought of it.

Ever since El Niño was born, I've worked hard at living drama-free. Because for the longest time, my life resembled a freaking soap opera. I was a classic codependent, and that just wasn't cutting it for me, my husband or my kids. Part of being a good parent is teaching children about healthy boundaries. Your body belongs to you and no one else. Adults don't need to ask *children* for help, they should ask another adult. When someone wants to fight, the best course of action is to walk away... unless they've got you pinned down or cornered, then you fight like hell to break free and get away as fast as you can. Blahblahblah.

Last night, Mo and I were trying to convey some more boundaries to Mr. Hyde. He's 14yo, which can be an age of life-altering, hormone-driven choices, and his ADHD further predisposes him to shitty judgement and boundary-setting. So we tried to address the issue of his current "job" with one of our neighbors, and it pretty much blew up in our faces.

The neighbor in question is a woman who is in her mid-forties, and on medical disability. She is morbidly obese, diabetic, depressed, has IBS and rheumatoid arthritis. She also used to attend our church but left because she didn't feel anyone "cared" about her... When we moved into our apartment a few months ago, she asked my son if he would take out her garbage nightly, and she would pay him. I thought about asking him to do it for her as a service thing (I don't want to use the word charity) but, I had a bad feeling it wouldn't stop at taking out her garbage, and I decided to try to stay out of it. Notice I said "she asked my son". She asked him first, not me. First strike. But, I really try to be nice and take a whole WWJD approach to others. The problem is, it usually backfires. One night, she wasn't there when Hyde went over. Ok, whatever. She came knocking at 10 o'clock, to ask if he'd come and unload her car for her, then throw out the garbage. Uhhhh, WTF?!?!? Her able-bodied-college-student daughter was with her, and she needs my son to unload her car? at ten-fucking-o'clock, when we're all getting ready for bed? I took a deep breath, and let it go. Then she showed up at our door one day, as Mo and I were getting ready to head out, to ask if we could lend her money to pay for her prescription meds. We lent it to her because we happened to have some and she'd been calling me all week, crying on the phone, telling me how the Social Security people were messing up her disability claim, the county clinic was messing up her prescriptions, yaddayaddayadda. (I know, I'm starting to sound like a heartless bitch, aren't I? let's just say I've been thru this before, with other people, and it *never* ends well) Then she called the other day, wanting Hyde to go with her to the supermarket to "help" her. This, at dinnertime. Finally, on Tuesday, Mo and I came home to find a trash bag at our doorstep. No note, nothing. Inside the bag, dirty. cat. litter. We suspected where it'd come from, and I really had to pray to keep my cool. Last night, Hyde confirmed our suspicions, so I asked him if he thought that was ok or if it was a rude overstepping of boundaries. He thought it was ok because she's paying him to take out her garbage. Mo and I tried to explain to him that just because she's paying him, it doesn't mean he's indentured to her (or we are), and he needs to set boundaries. He got upset, and then apparently said something to her that made her upset... so then she called while I was putting the baby down for the night. I didn't hear about it until this morning, which is a good thing. I'm still trying to figure out how I want to handle it. Mo doesn't want to talk to her at all.

I told Cookie when we met that I'm pretty antisocial, and I don't think she was thoroughly convinced. Maybe she'll read this and understand why. Although, right now she's pulling a disappearing act, which is what I'd love to be doing too... but I've gotta roll up my sleeves & do some setting of boundaries first.

[Update 4/9: I obviously attract the criminally insane. This woman left a letter taped to my door in which she accused me of being immature, ungrateful and a bad Christian, among other things. The old me would've ripped her a new one... but the new me wrote her a polite letter back in which I nicely told her to piss off, and to stay away from me and mine. This is why I avoid people. I have plenty of good, low-maintenance friends, why risk the drama with new people?]


mama without instructions said...

since this is my first comment it may not mean much to you (i just popped over from BMC'S site), but i have to say that you don't sound like a "heartless bitch" at all! this woman's behavior sounds completely over the line and unreasonable and i can tell you are trying to write about it in a somewhat neutral way. i agree completely that boundaries need to be set with her before things get worse. really, it sounds awful and i sincerely wish you luck resolving it!

honey said...

LOL, the blog's pretty new so I rarely get comments, and I hope all *kind* comments will always mean a lot to me no matter how many commenters there are. Thank you!

I checked your blog too & added it to my blogroll... you know, I really am lazy like I said. I'll bring up my blog and check other people's blogs thru mine. All because I haven't looked into the RSS thing. Oy! And your son is GORGEOUS!!! Such a cutie. Am I gonna meet you at BMC's gathering?

Take care!

PS: the neighbor, she is NUTS

mama without instructions said...

i just saw this. yes, i hope we will meet at bmc's gathering if/when one materializes when they are feeling better. your son is adorable too!! i always love to meet new moms and babes in town!