The Velveteen Rabbi, this is week two of Counting the Omer. She says that this week is dedicated to gevurah, which means boundary and strength. She asks many questions this week, to encourage us to think about the blessings which gevurah brings us. She mentions strength and boundaries, but also judgement, discernment, separation and connection, and discipline. Her post gives me so much to think about that it's difficult to figure out where to start, and what to write.
Boundaries are the sticking points I have right now. I am struggling to find ways to safely draw boundaries that hurt no one (myself included) and that help rather than hinder. Think of a fence, for instance, which can be seen as an item to block someone from entering... but can also serve to keep menacing cows out of happily growing grain. There are different sides, various shades, to every issue we come up against.
My own boundary issues come up in regards to anger, frustration, and depression. Admittedly, I have a lot on my plate right now: my minister's manual (a 'thesis' of sorts for seminary), homework, listening to the class I was unable to attend, church stuff, packing to move, grouchy roommates, scary and hairy dogs, a broken ankle, worries over financing for the new house, worries over how ordination will go, ordination itself, retreat, the cold/allergies that just won't go away and that have lingered for 6 weeks already... Yes, I have a lot to deal with. That is not an excuse for anything, though.
I let my own frustrations build up to an unhealthy point, and then I blew. I didn't set good boundaries for myself, or for others in my family. I can say I'm only human, and that'd be true, but I also have to work consistently to discover ways that allow me to "let go and let God" and to not hold onto the negative feelings over the various things going on in my life. In blowing up, I hurt Gray and I hurt sis, and in doing that, I hurt myself. That's where the depression came in.
Rather than turning things around and trying to make things better, I began to fall into a deep pit of despair. I spent several days crying. Had I shown a bit of strength, set a few reasonable boundaries, I might not have delved quite so deeply. In a way, my self-flagellation was a method of pushing people away so that I couldn't be blamed for the things I had done wrong. People weren't willing to tell me to buck up because I was sobbing in a dark corner.
I'm lucky. I have family who care an awful lot about me, and forgive me when I do negative things. They give me the time and space (and boundaries) to repair the problems I have caused. They're willing to stick by me, even at my worst. With their help, I have restructured things. I have set boundaries that are much more reasonable.
One of the most important things I am doing right now, is not getting involved in counting coup. When the roommates annoy or anger me or anyone else, I do my utmost to take a step back. It's their issue, not mine, and I can no longer allow them to pull me into their own anger and frustration. It's not healthy. I think that's one of the best boundaries I've set so far. It has allowed me to smile in the face of adversity a few times already.