Firm boundaries have never been my strong point. Being born with an ‘overdeveloped sense of empathy’ as my husband puts it, has made it really difficult for me to enforce boundaries on the people and even animals in which i share this life. To illustrate this point, I recently allowed a mouse to live in my kitchen for more than a month while I repeatedly attempted to live catch and release him outside. I just couldn’t bear the thought of hurting him, after all he hitched a ride inside on the cat (yes, he was literally holding onto the cats back when I found him). So, despite the fact that I was disgusted at having a mouse in the kitchen, who particularly enjoyed hanging out in the toaster, I named him Jerry and found solace in the fact that he was safe and happy. So safe and happy that he gave birth and filled my kitchen with the pitter-patter of tiny feet in my toaster. Jamie said enough was enough and went and bought what he loudly and proudly announced as a DEATH TRAP. He threw out my humane catch and release mouse traps which did not catch but rather offered the mice a daily array of goodies, set the ‘death traps’ and went off to work, of course, leaving me to deal with the guilt of murdering tiny, furry, cute little creatures. Anyway to cut a long and unpleasant story short, the kitchen is vermin free once more and the experience has left me pondering how I continue to find myself in situations like this in many areas of my life.
So, I find it quite fitting that whilst I have been exploring the many ways in which my lack of boundaries has brought unnecessary stress and chaos into our lives - cue chickens in the living room - we have been building a fence. A white picket fence with a rose covered arbour. And its a reminder to me that boundaries can indeed be beautiful.
The property is still not entirely fenced, but it’s getting there. Much like me. And as we establish the boundaries of our home, I am examining the boundaries in my relationships. I am becoming more and more comfortable saying no to my children, setting rules and enforcing them. They can still be a bit crazy but I can confidently go to the supermarket now without bursting into tears in the checkout due to high anxiety levels from a toddler throwing all the groceries out of the trolley at oncoming shoppers. FYI old ladies and flying sauce bottles does not end well.
I’ve noticed lately, more often than not, when I take the whole tiny tribe out, we get a lot of attention -we always have - but now instead of people staring at us like a we are a train wreck and feeling like I’m a walking advertisement for birth control, old ladies are often smiling at us and people are telling me how cute they are. I’m starting to understand how boundaries benefit everyone. Even if they don’t particularly like it.
My adult relationships are also evolving as I become more and more confident setting boundaries and letting go of the guilt of potentially disappointing other people. I’m sure for me it will be a life long journey, but in the mean time, I’m enjoying our new fence and experiencing how such a simple thing as a property boundary can make life feel a bit safer and more secure for all of us, dogs included.
We now have to press on with the other boundaries to make the property dog proof but here are some pictures of our completed front fence. It’s over a hundred metres long and took us a while, but we got there in the end and I’m in love with it.