Thank you to Intern Anna for filling in for me this week as I’m settling in and visiting friends and family in Minnesota.
Having Loving Boundaries – by, Intern Anna
Towards the beginning of my recovery journey, I found it hard to maintain boundaries with my friends and family. I really wanted to be able to take it into my own hands without the help of others. This was a big mistake as I soon discovered. It can help to reassure your child or other loved one, that help is important and necessary. No one can go through hard things alone. I liked when my mom would tell me that the hard work I was doing today would pay off in the future. Positive reminders are a nice and friendly way to show your child that you are supporting them!
Making boundaries with my friends about how to talk about food was really important. I knew there were some friends that I had that wouldn’t support this recovery-focused goal that I had. In those instances, I told my friends that if they could, please try not to talk about anything food, body image, size, etc. related when they were around me. I made sure to tell them I was coming from a place of wanting to keep our friendship healthy. Those boundaries that I made with them were surprisingly the easiest. When I hung out with those friends we didn’t venture into triggering topics and if I heard it going down the wrong path I could take a break in a different room.
I think the boundaries with my parents and closest friends were the hardest to set up. I believe this is because my parents and friends cared so much about me and didn’t want to see me suffering, yet at the same time they knew that I had to do certain triggering behaviors such as eating dessert, etc. to recover. I think the main thing to ask your child is how involved they want you to be with the exposures and activities that they will have to do. For me, I was comfortable with my parents encouraging me to eat something in a small setting, but I wouldn’t want them pointing stuff out in public around many people.
For friends, I made sure to confide in them as much as I felt comfortable. I never had them actively help me with my recovery actions, but I would ask to eat dinner in the company of each other. At the end of the day, my recovery goals were up to me.
Another important detail to talk about when setting up boundaries is what happens if a boundary is broken? For instance, let’s say I had a friend start talking about her weight gain. In this instance, I think it is important to tell them what you would like for next time while also acknowledging that people mess up. If this continues to be a patterned behavior, then it may become time to think about the friendship on a greater scale.
The whole topic of loving boundaries coincides with communication. In order to develop good, strong boundaries, it starts with being able to communicate effectively and efficiently. Start a conversation with a plan in mind and be open to new ideas.
At the end of the day, everyone loves to hear that you do the things you do because you care about them. Remind them that at the center of this all is love.
– Intern Anna for,