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Grieving Lost Relationships

Part of breaking the cycle includes setting boundaries. You have to evaluate your relationships so you can identify which ones are toxic. Once you identify your toxic relationships, you will need to set clear boundaries with the other person. The purpose of boundaries is to create a safe environment for you and your family.

Types of boundaries:

  • Physical boundaries - Physical boundaries address your personal space and physical touch. You get to decide who is allowed in your personal space and who can touch you. Let someone know if they are making you uncomfortable by invading your space. Let them know how much space you need in order to feel comfortable. If you don't feel comfortable with other people touching you, let them know.

  • Emotional boundaries - Your emotional boundaries help to protect your feelings and your energy. If someone hurts your feelings, let them know. If talking about certain topics or situations drain you, set clear boundaries that those topics are off limits. You do not have to speak about things that make you uncomfortable.

  • Time boundaries - Time boundaries can be limits that you set for spending time with people or days that you want to keep to yourself. You are not obligated to go to events and activities that you don't want to. Your time is yours to spend in ways that bring you joy and happiness.

  • Intellectual boundaries - Intellectual boundaries refer to your thoughts, ideas, and curiosity. You get to decide who you want to discuss these ideas with. If you are generally dismissed when discussing your thoughts with certain individuals, then you can avoid having these discussions with them.

  • Material boundaries - Your material boundaries include your house, car, clothes, etc. If you don't feel comfortable with certain individuals being in your house or car, let them know. You are not obligated to share your material items with others.

How to set clear boundaries:

  1. Review the above boundaries and make a list of which boundaries need to be discussed for each relationship. Maybe you want to set a time limit for visits in some relationships, or you only want to meet some people outside of your home, in a public place, where you feel safe. Whatever the boundaries may be, make a clear list for each relationship.

  2. Meet with the other person in a safe environment and discuss your boundaries. Remember that you are making boundaries for you, anyone who loves and cares for you will not be upset that you are trying to protect yourself.

  3. Make sure your boundaries are being respected. Address issues as they arise. Changes sometimes take time to happen so be kind and consistent in addressing anyone who oversteps your boundaries.

How to handle those who won't respect your boundaries:

  • Gray rock method - Keep communication short and simple. Don't include any personal information in your communication with them. Think of a gray rock, be boring and plain.

  • No contact - Cut out all communication with the individual. This includes social media, phone calls, texts, emails, and in person contact.

Going no contact is a hard decision to make, but it's necessary for some toxic relationships. Once you go no contact you will have to grieve the relationship that you had to end. Some days will be harder than others and you will second guess your decision at times but remember why you had to make the decision.

Having to be cycle breaker also means that you probably don't have healthy relationships with your family. You don't have the picture perfect, or movie worthy relationships that others may have. You will also have to grieve the loss of these relationships. You won't have large, happy family gatherings where all of your children are playing with their cousins, finding Easter eggs or making Christmas cookies. You won't get to have large family birthday parties for your children or have family attend your children's sporting events and school plays. There won't be matching pajamas and family game nights where everyone has fun. All of the dreams you had of how life would be once you grew up and had children will not come true and you need to come to terms with this reality. This doesn't mean that things can't be great though.

You can create your own family. Family is not always blood; they can be great people that you marry into or friends who are closer to you than your family ever was. You can create your own family traditions and do things that make your family happy. The important thing is to be surrounded by healthy people, in healthy relationships.



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