Earlier this week I went to school, the teacher was Brené Brown and the classroom was Courage Works. The topic of study was The Anatomy of Trust. Excellent, you should check it out. One of the things I’ve been rumbling about in my head lately is boundaries and trust, so this was perfect. I love how she spoke about and related it.
After class, I went outside with the intent to work on something, anything. Just get out in the sun, fresh air and work; it helps me think and feel better. After bundling up I grabbed some tools and started towards the front of the house. I haven’t worked in the landscape beds around my house for nearly a year, this would be a gift to me. With shears and rake in hand I set about to prune bushes. But I couldn’t get past the sidewalk.
I look at this sidewalk every day. Sometimes I don’t really see, but I look at it. Every time someone comes over, I really see it. Every time I open the front door, I see it. Covered in grass and dirt, overgrown and hidden. Honestly, we didn’t really have a sidewalk at all and had forgotten what was really there. It had been lost in the muck and overgrowth.
Not being able to step across the sidewalk to prune the bushes, I started to pull a few weeds at the base of the steps at our front door. Which led to a few more, and seconds latter it was clear to me the task at hand. It was time to reclaim the sidewalk.
Like the sidewalk unseen, sometimes do not see boundaries until we step on them or over them and usually squash something or someone.
I walked to the shed to get some new tools, because the ones previously picked would not work for the new found task. This required a shovel and something sharp, not shears. Sometimes as we are working through situations, we have to evaluate our tools and choose something different. What I brought with me was not working. It’s not something to get upset about or quit over, but the opportunity to make a choice. “This” is not working, I’m going to try something different. For example, ‘This relationship is not working, I need to use a different “tool” in order to have what I want (relationship) my friend.’ Perhaps it’s space or needing to spend more time. Perhaps it’s being more clear about boundaries, being honest or vulnerable. As I discovered today, the new tool I’m going to be sharpening is speaking up. Not necessarily voice level, but whats on my mind.
With this new understanding of trust percolating in my brain and how boundaries are related, I tore into this sidewalk. I didn’t even know where the edges were! The boundary was so unclear.
In the summer, this sidewalk gets mowed over. How this mirrors relationship sometimes. When we are unclear where boundaries are, we can get mowed over! Emotions take us for ride and it does’t work, but how often do we say this isn’t working I need to do something different? Instead, we just get angry. Sometimes I just sit in hurt, and then it happens again. Perhaps I set a boundary but I don’t enforce it. (In full disclosure, I reclaimed our sidewalk 4-5 years ago, today I hauled 3 wheelbarrow loads off.) Sometimes we don't’ know a boundary exists until we cross it.
I have the opportunity to reflect on a situation which recently took place in my life. Boundaries were not respected. There was a gaping hole in the fence (boundary) of trust. I made my request known, to speak in person (not via text or email) and that I needed a little time, because this was something personal that needed to be taken care and I needed time to process. As conditions changed, the boundary of time and in person were not respected. Perhaps I should have gotten the pliers out a little sooner to fix the fence (boundary). When pushed around on my sidewalk or in my pasture, it’s not good and usually I end up with skinned knees. But I learned about a tool I want to sharpen, and something to do differently. Speak up! And not wait! This helps to make the boundary known and clear. It will also help me to enforce it, building trust in myself and also reflecting that back to others.
After the shovel and sharp tools had accomplished their task, I got the hose out. Spraying the dirt and muck away is SO rewarding. We now have a clear sidewalk into the front of our home. My husband said, “Great, now people will come to the front door.” And I thought wonderful! (We love our backdoor guests the best, but they wade through the piles of uglies on the way.) I want to have clear boundaries, because it’s safe and inviting for others and myself. A clear sidewalk is welcoming!
And, one of the best parts is when my kids got off the bus from school. My daughter knelt down at the start of this "new" sidewalk, peering intently at the concrete. I wondered what she was seeing for the first time as she looked up at me and said, "Look momma, 1968." Go figure! I had no idea that was there before, we get to discover something new when we start to excavate.
I know where the boundaries are now. The sidewalk is clear, and the rumbling in my head is starting to go in a direction of a different outcome next time. The crab grass will begin to grow as weather warms, challenging the boundary lines. But, I have a weed eater and the opportunity to practice using it in truth and love.