If you’re like me, you’ve spent a good deal of time working through treatment and therapy with your child. How many times does the term “boundaries” come up? Yes, I get it! I get it! Boundaries are good and boundaries for kids with mental illness are even more critical. And I work on it… diligently… because it matters.
Maintaining boundaries with this kid is exhausting.
So I get it. Especially with her diagnoses, I get why she needs really tight boundaries. But my daughter fights them ssssooo hard. She can be incessant, persistent, argumentative, and does not give in. I weather pure rage for hours over these boundaries. To hold the line can deplete me completely. And I keep trying. I do my best. It just seems that some days it feels like the water is coming into the boat faster than I can scoop it out.
If I could talk to Boundaries, I’d tell it to leave me alone.
Dear boundaries – you’re really kicking my arse. You make me tired and grumpy. You make me feel weak and shameful when you bully me like this. I don’t want to wave my white flag but you’re pushing me to the edge. Please leave me alone. – Cordially, Greta
Why boundaries are such an albatross for me?
With some meditation and introspection (and frankly, therapy), here are my honest, vulnerable insights:
- Happiness: I feel like I’m piling on my daughter when she’s already down. It’s hard to enforce a hard line when she’s had so much pain. I just want her to be happy and it breaks my heart to cause her more pain. But this is a trap! She needs the boundaries like air. She needs them to feel safe and be happy. Boundaries for kids with mental illness is the only way.
- Resentment: I was resenting her for the energy and time it took from me. It was exhausting. This led me to guilt and shame. And upon deeper reflection, I realized that I mostly resent myself for not being good at setting them or being able to hold the boundary, and the ensuing chaos. I’m working on my own boundaries now – but I’ll save that for another blog.
- Acceptance: The realization hit me that I also hadn’t accepted that this is the way it must be now. This is where we are and this is what she needs. I surrendered my hope that it was only temporary or that it really wasn’t needed.
You know, life is a journey. I struggle some days more than others. Boundaries for kids with mental illness is hard, even on the best of days. Some days I nail it. Other days I mess up. But at the end of the day I can honestly say that I did my best and that was enough.