Life Would be Easier if I Weren’t Nice


Can I keep my boundaries intact? (Photo credit: ank0ku)

I am possibly still too concerned with how others feel, and put too much responsibility on myself for making others happy. Why do I think this? I am very stressed right now. I would rather sleep than do anything else. My dreams are not restful.

Last week I went to a painful, dark place, because during a dance performance I felt torn in loyalty to my friends, the other dancers, and to my husband and kids. I was unable to be there for all of them equally and perceived it as a fault of my own, not just a practicality of the evening and my current family. Last week I was so distraught by the thought of causing bad feelings in others that I was unable to enjoy myself at all, and then I got angry at the very people I was trying to take care of. I got so angry I resented their existence. Then I felt so guilty for those thoughts and feelings and got stuck in a terrible place. In the past, I have used alcohol and sleeping pills to force me to sleep, to numb those feelings, and run away. This time I trusted my husband, and allowed him to help me through that bad night and dark place.

But I’m still tired. And way too stressed. At first I thought this was from last week’s experience, some sort of residual from that extremely emotionally night. But now I think I know the real reason. My Mom.

I have more performances this weekend. My Mom said she wanted to come, and asked for all the details. Part of me likes that she wants to come, as it seems normal, and other dancers’ parents do come. But a bigger part of me does not want to share my joy with her. That part of me knows she will try to rob me of my joy by passing some judgment, making some comment, something will be wrong and it will be my fault. This is dangerous, because I was already thinking this way last week, just from my childhood training, and I did not need her presence to put me in the dark place.

My Mom has health issues that she claims prevent her from driving long distances, so she needs to ask one of my siblings to drive her the 2 hours to my city. Now I have to invite all of my siblings and their families. This is a public event, so I’m not exactly inviting, but informing, but, my siblings will feel obligated to come – to not let me down. Our family is still so dysfunctional, that all of us so-called adults are terrified of hurting each other.

So, I don’t care who comes to watch me dance. I’ll be in my zone and barely see the crowd. But before and after, that’s the problem. I am guessing my Mom will attempt to guilt me into spending that time with her, because they drove 2 hours to see me ya know. And I have already arranged for my own children to be somewhere else that evening, so as not to repeat last weekend. I want this time to be fun, care-free, stress-free. No, I need it to be. I need to get this stress out of me.

Will that be possible with my Mom, siblings, nieces and nephews there too? I guess I’ll find out. This will be the first time I have seen my Mom in person since establishing new healthier boundaries. She has backed off the smothering phone calls and emails. I’ve been flourishing in the new freedom, the reduced guilt, the decreased exposure to her negativity. Can I keep up the boundary when she is right in my face? I think I can, I think I can.

Life would be so much easier if I weren’t nice, and just told mom I did not want her there, or that I was not dancing. But the first would come back to bite me in so many ways, as it would take years of emails and phone calls of her reminding me of the time she was unwanted and just wants to support me but I won’t LET her. The second, the lie, just would not work either. My performances are videoed and all over the web, and they would find out. And I just can’t lie, completely lack that ability.

I’m going to try to be true to me, to keep my boundaries in place, and see if I can enjoy myself without falling back in to old unhealthy patterns of behavior with my family that formed my withered roots. Maybe they’ll all be so dazzled by my blossoms (blossoms, not bosoms, though my dancing dress is quite sparkly and gorgeous on me!) that they’ll forget to pick on me, and just enjoy the show. Am I asking too much there?

8 thoughts on “Life Would be Easier if I Weren’t Nice

  1. I’ve been in that spot. I was asked to give a presentation on Mother’s Day. I planned to talk about the other mothers in our lives, especially for those who don’t have a good example in their life. She insisted on coming. I completely re-wrote the presentation. I’m still not happy about that, and I still can’t see any other way, except I wish I hadn’t mentioned I was speaking. I’m praying you stay strong and true to you. My SIL is planning an anniversary party for my parents. I’m trying to figure out how I can arrange to not go without causing more conflict than it’s worth. So far, I haven’t figured out anything.

    • Oh no Judy! That situation is so awkward, it could be a sit-com, but not funny when it is real. Oh dear. I would not have been able to give the original speech with Mom right there in the audience either. And we can not control them, if they choose to attend these events. You got it, how to protect ourselves without causing more conflict than it is worth. It sounds so easy to just not attend, not invite, not inform, but families are too interwoven and complicated for that to be successful. I’m feeling the same pinch for impending Thanksgiving. Should I go? Will they invite my Dad? Should I go and shut up, or make waves? Always up to me to cause trouble or not.

      • Oh, shoot. I forgot about Thanksgiving coming. I need to check with one of my close friends here and see if she’s interested in going to Cracker Barrel. We went last year and it was one of my best Thanksgivings ever.

  2. That is a tricky spot you are in. I’ll be thinking of you holding those boundaries tight on that day. I truly hope you can find your usual freedom in dance, no matter who is watching. Focus on that and let them be ‘spectators’ then, when you have to spend time with her later, just keep thinking back to how you felt when you were dancing. (lol…I don’t know if it’ll work in the least, but if not…just keep thinking that it will be over soon and she’ll be back in her place, two hours away, unable to drive).

    • I love your advice! Maybe I can stay in that free zone and let them all see me as a performer, not a victim, not someone to mess with. I’ll channel my inner Diva, and let them think they are priveleged to spend backstage time with me, not entitled to it. LOL, laughing hard at this image! And yes, soon enough they will all be 2 hours away again.

  3. Boundaries are hard! Good for you in being willing to do the hard work in sticking to your boundaries even in such a tough situation. I’ll be thinking of you – I hope it goes better than you expect, but even if it doesn’t, I hope you are able to feel proud of yourself for doing your best with a challenge. Life would indeed be easier if being nice was not important! Good luck!

  4. Saying ‘No’ to our mothers’ and others is one of the hardest tasks in the world. Just whose needs are we trying to meet? Ultimately it comes down to a belief that we are just ‘wrong’ For me it is about shame and then the requisite guilt of trying to make up for being ultimately unloveable. But being in these situations is so character building and shows us our true strengths and resiliance. Standing up, being seen and not being afraid to speak from the heart. If you are honest with your family then you are being honest with yourself, you are honouring you. You need to believe that you are worthy of honouring you first, every time without fail or fear of losing love. Love you…Just love you.

  5. Pingback: Letter to My Mom and Siblings Regarding Family Gatherings | Roots to Blossom

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