Our meeting this evening covered a lot of things, but I heard myself saying something that I'm not sure I'd articulated before about my boundaries. I don't know if it's a good rule or not, as it is rather subjective...but it's working for me now, kind of.
I have to set a boundary with my husband when whatever it is that he's asking me to do will make me feel resentful. Instead of looking outside of myself for what is right or wrong, and instead of looking at him for what will or will not piss him off, I look at me.
For instance, we crossed paths when I was about to leave to go to my meeting tonight. He wanted me to take him somewhere to buy him some food. It was a small request, but it hit me wrong. I'm broke, and I don't want to buy anything extra for him, especially not something that I wouldn't buy for myself. I don't want to buy him food and bring him back home and make myself late to my meeting. I want him to go to the meeting. I want him to want to go to meetings, generally. My instinct is to do whatever it is he asks me to do; however, the combination of all of these elements would have turned into a resentment for me. It was better to say, "No." It's not because it's wrong for me to buy him food, or because I don't want to enable him, or because it's not the program thing to do...it's because it won't be right for me, not now.
We bet each other over something silly a few weeks ago, and I lost. The penalty for losing is a ten minute backrub, and he keeps asking for it. I keep avoiding it. I love to touch him, to rub him, to be close to him...but something about this backrub business keeps raising a thorough, definite "No" from me. I think it's the way he frames it when he asks, with something like, "But you said you would!" or "But you owe me!" Immediately, I think of all the things he's said he'd do. I think of all the things he owes me that I'll never get. I say "No." It's probably not the right thing to do, not to keep my word, and to deny myself a moment of intimacy with him; but if my first instinct is resentment, I've got to say no right now.
I do wish, though, that there were a more concrete way to articulate where my boundaries begin and end. Some of my boundaries have become quite clear to me, and I think they are clear to him, although he challenges them sometimes. I can't let him use my car, ever. There's no wiggle room and no wavering. The answer is no, all the time. Other things, though, like, "Will you rub my back?" or "Will you buy me some fast food?" change depending on the day. If I'm feeling loved and appreciated, then the answer is more likely to be "Yes, darling, I'll do whatever you want." If I'm feeling like I've been taken advantage of or lied to, then the answer is more likely, "No."
I also wish there were a way to articulate to my husband that these boundaries are necessary for our marriage to survive, or for me to survive in this marriage. At a certain point, if I had continued giving and giving and giving like an ever-flowing teat of love and money and car and forgiveness, I would have had nothing left inside of me. That's not something he seems to be able to hear, though. He hears, "No," from the lips of the woman who, for the longest time, was his biggest supplier of "Yes."
Or maybe he can. I don't know. Maybe he's reading this, and I'll be in big trouble for writing about my feelings on the internet again. Gross.
If you're reading, my love, please stop. I love you very much, but I want you out of my head. It makes it hard to think. It's like trying to walk through the house with the dogs under our feet.