The phone vibrates, a familiar knot forms in your stomach, and your heart starts racing. It's them. You're well aware that if you pick up the phone, they're going to demand you to drop everything. There's some emergent issue that only you can rectify. If you decide not to answer, prepare for the familiar guilt trip: "You don't care about me. You never do anything for this family. I can't believe you would turn your back on your blood." This is often followed by the dreaded silent treatment.
At first, the silent treatment may sound appealing. A break from the constant demands and chaos. But you know all too well that within a day, you'll be consumed by worry about what you did wrong and how you can mend it. The anxiety that silence causes will make you desperate to end it, even if deep down you know you did nothing wrong.
The phone is on its last ring. The decision you have to make is causing your blood pressure to spike. Either way, it's going to take a while to get over this interaction. The anxiety has a way of hijacking your thoughts, making it impossible to focus until you resolve the issue. This pattern is not sustainable, and it doesn't have to be this way.
Imagine hearing your phone ring without going into an immediate state of panic. Imagine being able to say, "I'll call you back after this meeting," without the fear of retribution. Your family shouldn't feel like a constant problem that needs to be rectified. There is another way. You can learn how to set boundaries and manage your reactions to unpredictable family events and people. If you identify with this story of a dysfunctional family, know that you're not alone and there are tools and strategies available to help you navigate these complex relationships.
Setting boundaries with family members can feel like an uphill battle, but it is a necessary step to ensure your mental well-being. It means standing your ground and maintaining your peace, regardless of the guilt trips or silent treatments. It means not letting your day be consumed by phone calls and text messages and fixing whatever mess your family member is in today. It means prioritizing your mental health and peace of mind over the whims and fancies of your family members.
Learning to set boundaries might seem daunting, but remember, it's a process. It starts with acknowledging the dysfunction, understanding your feelings, and recognizing the impact it has on you. It involves developing coping strategies and learning to assert your needs. It might involve seeking professional help, joining a support group, or educating yourself about healthy family dynamics.
I want to teach you how to make these changes. I want to guide you on this journey towards healthier family relationships. Because you deserve a family life that brings you joy and peace, not constant stress and anxiety.