You’ve changed, and I don’t like it

Orestes Pursued by the Furies, by John Singer ...

Orestes Pursued by the Furies, by John Singer Sargent. 1921. The erinyes represent the guilt for murdering his mother. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Madeline Laughs

 

One of the many trials you’ll experience when you start making personal boundaries is the guilt. A big surprise they don’t tell you about when making personal boundaries are the people you’ll end up dealing with that you never thought you’d need to set personal boundaries in order to protect yourself from.

I had a friend that constantly warned me about making boundaries in order to protect myself from people that had every intention of hurting me, but once I made them she felt compelled to violate every single one of them! I had no idea just how much she abused her friendship with me until I finally sat down and got to know myself well enough to know what I didn’t want in my life. Unfortunately, she turned out to be the perfect reason to have every single boundary. No one was more shocked than I was!  

When I started enforcing my personal boundaries with her, she applied the one thing I wasn’t prepared to encounter. Guilt. When she realized I was saying NO to her for the first time in our lives, she retaliated by turning the tables on me in order to guilt me back into the submissive person she was used to. She was the first person that convinced me to seriously consider changing my life with personal boundaries and now she was the one person hellbent on destroying my progress.

From the article Begin to Set Personal Boundaries on Oprah.com:

“Is guilt standing in your way of saying no to the things you don’t want to do? Learn how to overcome guilt and other obstacles that could be blocking your way to setting boundaries in your life.

Overcoming Guilt

You have to be ready to make tough choices to change your lifestyle. Cheryl Richardson says guilt is the most common obstacle to taking care of yourself. You will feel guilty by making yourself a priority. To overcome guilt, face it head on. See it as a sign that you are on the right track.

Overcoming Resistance

Tell people your priorities have changed and that you are taking care of your needs. If you feel your own resistance to focusing on yourself, remember, when you put yourself first, you are then fully available to others without resentment or anger.

Find Support

When you start making yourself a priority, you may feel uncomfortable and uncaring. Stay with it and find support from other women doing the same.”

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a support system in place before you start embarking on your new self. Without the love and support of friends that were either going through the same thing, in the process of making their own boundaries, or had already successfully changed their lives using boundaries, I don’t know what I would have done. I have friends that are in every stage of this new adventure and their validation and unconditional love and acceptance of my process has been the only thing that keeps me from backsliding every time I make a baby step forward and someone tries to smack me back down.
In the beginning what I heard was “You’ve changed, and I don’t like it!” This declaration would send me into a tailspin. Oh no! They don’t like me! What have I done?! I would scramble and backslide like I was covered in cocoa butter trying to get back to the person they liked because god forbid anyone should NOT like me!
What they were really saying, and what I was not capable of hearing, was they didn’t like me. It’s that simple. Unless I was bending over backwards and being agreeable to their every whim, unless I spent 95% of the time listening to them and their problems and was satisfied with the 5% they allowed me to have the floor to talk about my issues, then they weren’t going to be happy with ME. They didn’t like ME. They liked the person that covered ME up. They liked it better when ME was suffocated beneath a blanket of people pleasing and uncomfortable, sound muffling wool.
On Oprah.com they talk about 6 toxic personality types. The  person I’m describing covers all of the descriptions except maybe one.

“The Blamer

This person likes to hear his own voice. He constantly complains about what isn’t working in his life and yet gets energy from complaining and dumping his frustrations on you.

The Drainer

This is the needy person who calls to ask for your guidance, support, information, advice or whatever she needs to feel better in the moment. Because of her neediness, the conversation often revolves around her, and you can almost feel the life being sucked out of you during the conversation.

The Shamer

This person can be hazardous to your health. The shamer may cut you off, put you down, reprimand you, or make fun of you or your ideas in front of others. He often ignores your boundaries and may try to convince you that his criticism is for your own good. The shamer is the kind of person who makes you question your own sanity before his.

The Discounter

This is the person who discounts or challenges everything you say. Often, she has a strong need to be right and can find fault with any position. It can be exhausting to have a conversation with the discounter, so eventually you end up giving in and deciding to just listen.

The Gossip

This person avoids intimacy by talking about other behind their backs. The gossip gets energy from relaying stories, opinions, and the latest “scoop.” By gossiping about others, he creates a lack of safety in his relationships, whether he realizes it or not. After all, if he’ll talk about someone else, he’ll talk about you.”

I can even see myself in some of these toxic descriptions and that doesn’t make me happy at all. It makes me wonder how I can change the way I go about sharing without becoming toxic. If I had to be honest about this I’d have to admit that I can be a Blamer and a Drainer sometimes. I can also be a Gossip, though I have made strides in not gossiping maliciously. I don’t like it when people gossip about me, so I try not to do it about them, unless it’s something I have said to their face, or will say to their face in the near future. I have also apologized for making quick judgments about people and made it a point to apologize directly to them as soon as I could.
The Shamer is the person that will throw a monkey wrench into your progress to enforce personal boundaries though. They have no interest in you feeling better about yourself, so watch out for them.
One of the exercises they offer in this same article is a question and answer portion you can do in order to figure out if the friendship you have is worth saving, or if you’re better off making new friends. I enjoyed this interlude. From Oprah.com:

“Since soulful connections require an investment of time and energy, you’ll want to choose the people you spend time with wisely. To determine whether a relationship drains you or fuels you, ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Write down the name of a person in your life.
  2. Am I able to be myself with this person? Do I feel accepted by him/her?
  3. Is this person critical or judgmental of me?
  4. Does the relationship provide an even give-and-take exchange of energy?
  5. Do I feel upbeat and energized when I’m around this person, or depleted and drained?
  6. Does this person share my values? My level of integrity?
  7. Is this person committed to our relationship?
  8. Can this person celebrate my success?
  9. Do I feel good about myself when I’m with this person?

From Cheryl Richardson’s book Take Time for Your Life.”

If your friend doesn’t like the person you’re growing into, then taking this simple quiz about how you feel about the friendship should answer the questions about why this might be the case and if you want to continue being friends.

Remember that this is all about empowering you, so your feelings are the priority here, not theirs. You have probably spent years never being celebrated and it’s about time for you to consider celebrating you so that others can celebrate you without having to be reminded you’re breathing.
So the next time you hear “You’ve changed and I don’t like it!” you can tell them, “Yes, I have changed and I like myself enough now that your displeasure with my improved mental health is no longer a worry I plan to give much energy to anymore.”
Stay strong and stay tuned. There’s more to come!
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About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice, Personal Boundaries Primer and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to You’ve changed, and I don’t like it

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  4. Regyna Longlank says:

    This is so true. Without meaning to our habits lock each other into patterns. When real change starts to happen people literally do not see the real you. They project the old you onto you, and they see that. It’s a sad psychological fact, like a blind spot. Sometimes it takes years. With people you are stuck with like family you are forced to wait it out. If you keep being you they eventually do notice. And that is pretty cool.

    Like

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  13. seashell says:

    Thank you, it’s really useful to read it as I am going through precisely what you describe so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Magpie says:

    My mum was an guilt tripper, level Expert! I love her to bits but my entire life almost until the day she died was ruled by the phrase “make me proud”. She would try to embarrass me into doing what she wanted, shame me into being someone i wasnt and guilt me when i refused. With her, despite the battles we fought, i always felt able to set boundaries and keep them. I would laugh at her attempts to shame me and instead take it up another notch, owning the things she said and reminding her that actually i was worse. Im proud of who i am.
    The guilt was harder to deal with, it made me angry, i was not responsible for her happiness. We worked stuff out though and at the end we had come to a level of understanding.
    I do wonder though how much influence this relationship influenced me into picking my ex partner, after all he had no respect for boundaries. My tactics against this which had worked with mum fell badly short with him though, maybe because ultimately my mum loved me deeply and this was just a way she had learned to control her situation. Perhaps as he only ever viewed me as a possession, there was no deep love there, he used those tactics to control me?
    Good post, thank you, you always make me think 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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