We put up a new fence today for Nava – our new and delicious and perfect and exhausting… but perfect Doberman Pincher puppy. She had a fence up already. A small one that I had put together the week I brought her home. It was small because my Husband was away. This big fence, that circles our yard now, I could not do on my own. It was a more-than-one-person project. And so I bought this awesome fencing on line that came in two, big cardboard boxes and was easy to put together and allow for a bit of safety for my puppy. And though it served its purpose, it was not quite right. A bit small.
My eye would stop at the fence rather than my sight running free to the ends of my property and into the woods beyond my lawn. The fence was stifling and tight. My puppy felt it, too. She tolerated being held within this small space but her joy was obvious when we would play outside these metal walls.
And so when this new fence was finally done today there was this overwhelming sense of freedom and space even while the fence still contained our place and kept us, and most importantly our sweet - and new and delicious and perfect - puppy safe.
And this got me thinking about the significance of building our own good fences – our personal boundaries. Because there is this balance that we need to be aware of. A balance that we need to honor so that the fences that we create around ourselves nurture us and keep us safe while giving us the freedom and space to live our lives fully.
Creating strong fences – healthy boundaries that honor self-care while enhancing our lives – can be complicated. Putting up boundaries carries with it those negative connotations that stretch from being considered elitist to being unsocial, narcissistic, uncaring. Self-care means selfish. Our boundaries, those essential fences that allow our souls to soar because we have a safe and contained place to land, are considered the manifestation of our selfishness. And so we hide our boundaries behind excuses so that we don’t offend those people that we care about. And worst, so that we don’t constantly worry that they will think badly of us.
Or, the most damaging of all, we hesitate to build our safe places by putting everyone else before our own needs. Our fences never go up or we neglect them and they fall apart over time.
And what is truly so sad about this is that when we don’t feel that we have a place to go - a fenced in yard that we have filled with those things that give us our life source - in the long run we truly cannot care for those other people in our lives that we love so deeply. Because we have no place to regroup and refuel and re-evaluate.
But when we create space for ourselves that feels safe and honors our own needs we are actually able to share without worry that we will burn out or fear that we will be hurt.
But there is even more that is magnificent about this.
Because we don’t have to build our fences alone. Yes, they are our contained spaces – the boundaries we create are created solely for ourselves, matching exactly what we need. But just as my husband (and a dear friend) helped me to build this fence for our puppy today, we can garner support from the people who love us to create the healthy boundaries that we need in our lives.
The beauty of creating healthy boundaries is that it allows us to give of ourselves fully. We don’t have to conserve those gifts that we share with others because we can never run out. We need only to go back to our fenced in yard and fill ourselves up again before going back out into the world to share our goodness and our love with each other.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.