I have a family relationship with someone who is manipulative and cruel with words and actions. When I set boundaries, my family did not react well. They saw her pain, and reacted with anger toward me. I have now had to create very strong boundaries so that this person will stop abusing me, and will not be able to manipulate my children with lies and confusing mood swings. It has resulted in isolation from the rest of my family (my father, my siblings, and their children).
This person continues to send cruel messages and cause great pain. I was always the optimist, the child that found the best in everything, the one that believe for the best, and now I feel broken. I need to know how to be a great woman of God. I know what NOT to do, but I am not sure how to fill in the gaps. I would love prayers of comfort, of continual conformation that God is with me, and that he loves me.
Your friend, Anon
It’s hard when others have families that seem perfect, and yet yours is not. But I want to applaud that you are choosing to keep your family, your children, safe within healthy boundaries. It’s something that I determined a long time ago, that my family would be safe, there would be laughter, and that regardless of whether anyone else changes in my extended family, I would change. I see that in you — that you are drawing a line in the sand that says “it ends here”.
We can’t take personally someone else’s shortcomings. We can’t fix them. We can’t change the past. But we can see ourselves (and our loved ones) through God’s eyes. You are His girl. Your life is wrapped in His plans. You can forgive. You can let go so you can move forward. You can set boundaries, not to punish, but work toward the healthiest relationship possible. And when you have to, you can love from a distance if a person crosses those boundaries. You can love and forgive with intention, not taking personally the fact that your siblings and family is confused. You see, an old pattern has been broken, and that is confusing. But continue to love, to pray, to be open to a relationship as a new pattern is established.
Your prayer was to be the woman and mom you want to be. I’d love to send you a copy of my book called The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future. In it, I talk about a lot of things you expressed.
I also longed for a mentor as a young mom. God filled that gap for me. I read books. I spent time with women I admired, who were strong women of faith. I unpacked unhealthy patterns to repack healthier ones. And sometimes I failed, but I got back up and learned from those mistakes, or I tapped into the grace that Christ offers each of us. It sounds like you are that same girl, longing for all that God has for you. Run, sis, run! There’s so much He’s wanting to show you. Separate from your past and even with broken people around you, God always saw you and loved you and has His mark on your life.
He’ll redeem the past. It’s His specialty.
I am praying God’s grace and presence to be so rich in your life that others can’t help but see Him through you.
Sometimes we don’t know how to take the next step. These are books that will help. I’ve walked this. I’ve lived it. Let me walk with you.
The Mom I Want to Be: Rising Above the Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future
The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places
Anon, I can attest to what Suzie is saying and confirm that you’re on the right track. I went through nearly the same experience. It was brutal, but I learned to forgive and be forgiven, as well as hold firm to healthy boundaries. After fourteen years, God restored to me and my family almost all of my family of origin, very unexpectedly. I found Him blessing in my broken place, in forgiving, in letting go.
Gid is so gracious. 🙂
Hang in there! Boundaries are healthy! They are meant to protect you and keep you (and your family) safe and healthy. It is never easy and often the repercussions are grief on our part, but God is faithful. Consider it “tough love”.
I wrote something similar in my own blog. I too have had to set boundaries and also participated in a family intervention committing to extreme boundaries. https://julimay.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/zing/
Know that I am praying for you!
I’ve been there Anon. Suzie is spot on! I’ll pray for you as well.
I’ve been there Anon. Suzie is spot on! I’ll pray for you as well.
Praying for you Anon! Hang in there. You have to take care of YOU. If you don’t, no one will. I am so proud of you for standing firm and protecting your family. It is very hard to do this. It hurts. I know. I had to do this with my Dad. For 10 years I didn’t see or speak to him. He missed my wedding, the birth of grandchildren etc but it was the healthiest thing for me to do. In the end God reconciled our relationship in an amazing way! All things are possible with him! Keep praying. If other family members become abusive, then you may need to remove yourself from family events for a while. If this person continues to contact you, change your information. Change your number, change your email. You can block email addresses etc. You can block them completely on Facebook. Do what you have to. Their reaction is about them, not you.
Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God
Sending prayers for you Anon!
I have a question for Susie (or anyone else)….
What happens when you want to set boundaries, have tried to set boundaries, but the person just doesn’t care and feels that because of who they are they can do whatever they want and no one, especially me has a right to say anything against it or them and when you do, oh boy watch out?
What do you do when you have expressed your concerns to your spouse (as in my situation), regarding this same person, and while he says he understand and agrees with what you are saying he still insists on including them in things that your family does. Then when this person is around, they act one way when it’s just you and your children and when your spouse is around this person puts on a show so that you end up looking like the bad guy, or crazy one. This in turns confuses your children, the ones you are trying hard to protect from the negativity, and bad examples, brought on by this person.
Based on all of this, I have found that setting boundaries has been more of a negative, and a wall against me, than a boundary for the better and I don’t know what to do any more.
Kathy, Boundaries aren’t saying anything against anyone, though if I hear you correctly, that is how it is interpreted.
The boundaries that might need to take place are with your husband. The compromise is that he does hear you (which is good), but that he needs to step in and explain what is acceptable and what is not behind the scenes, since it appears it is his family.
You can’t help or fix the way she is acting, whether it is behind your back or in front of you, so the frank talk between your husband and his family member (when you are not present) is key.
It sounds like you are in a “double bind”, where anything you do backfires.
If you talked to your husband and asked him to share his concerns (since he agrees) and to gently set boundaries and enforce those boundaries (with love), would that be something he would consider?