Reclaiming Your Time: How to Set Healthy Boundaries
In my unpopular Black opinion, Brown Sugar is way better than Love & Basketball.
The Libra in me is a sucker for romance, and the chemistry between Sidney Shaw (Sanaa Lathan) and Andre Ellis (Taye Diggs) just makes my heart quiver with envy.
(Also, I don’t have an athletic bone in my body so I am a little biased and judgy when it comes to Love & Basketball.)
Before I go any further, can I ask you a question? I am sure you are already thinking I am crazy for putting anything above Love & Basketball.
But have you ever been in love?
When is the last time you turned your Pandora to "90's Slow Jams" and vibed out thinking about your crush? Have you ever listened to Monica's "Angel" and thought, "Wow, I really love INSERT NAME HERE!"?
Watching Brown Sugar is my "90's Slow Jams," and, for awhile, I thought it was gonna be my life story.
I Fell In Love With My Best Guy Friend
Whenever I watched Brown Sugar, I saw myself unfolding with love in his arms. We were gonna be together—I knew it. He was gonna stop playing with my heart, and we were gonna get rid of the boundaries that defined our friendship. The one boundary that was clear, the friend-zone, was the one I was constantly trying to break through.
For years, I gave him my love in the form of sentimental “I love and miss you” text messages, gifts, and energy. I did the most because I was thirsty for whatever he could give me. There were no boundaries, at least on my part, in our relationship.
I felt stuck in a vibration of love, and I could not let the feeling go. But truthfully: I was avoiding a deep loneliness I felt inside because the men who showed love and affection in my life were very far and few between. I was clinging to whatever he was giving me out of lack of love for myself and fear that he would leave and I would never have that feeling again.
Eventually, I had a breakdown. I cried and I screamed and I cussed and I was vulnerable. I never wanted to admit what I knew was true: He wasn’t worth it.
My Breakdown Led to a Breakthrough
I realized that I never set healthy boundaries in my relationships. I was always so giving of my energy out of fear that they would leave me. I didn’t want my story added to the "lonely Black Woman" narrative because I thought life with no man was no life at all.
I realized that I was the one who subscribed myself to that unhealthy cycle of unmet expectations.
I had no boundaries.
I did not make space for myself to feel OK when those expectations weren’t met. Space to breathe and to live alone (not lonely) and be okay in my own comfort and insecurity.
Since that breakdown—and breakthrough—I've learned to set healthy boundaries. I've learned to believe that I'm enough.
Here's how you can begin to set your own healthy boundaries (even if you are in love):
3 Things You Need to Know When Setting Healthy Boundaries
1. Self-Care Isn't Always Fun
When you set the intention to love and care for yourself, life gets easier. Birds start flying high. The sun starts shinin' bright. Life becomes so beautiful—but don’t let the beauty make you think that there aren’t tough decisions to make.
Setting healthy boundaries is the next step after setting those magical intentions.
Setting healthy boundaries is the core of true self-love. You have to make space for yourself to feel without the influence of anyone or anything. Making the decision to set boundaries gives you creative control over your life. You get to decide what, when, where, how, and why those invisible lines are changing.
Setting healthy boundaries is the core of true self-love. You have to make space for yourself to feel without the influence of anyone or anything.
There was nothing but rainbows and lollipops in my head when it came to whatshisface. I was an open wound walking around thinking he was gonna come patch me up with “Good morning” texts, hugs, kisses, and "I love you’s".
My lack of boundaries left me open to experience a lot of disappointment. I could have avoided it all if I would have opened my eyes and realized how unhealthy this relationship was. When it was time to set those boundaries, I experienced so much pain because I had to face what I had done to myself and make that space to heal my own wound.
Setting boundaries and being honest with yourself isn't fun, but it is necessary to your growth and your own peace of mind. Don't play victim to your feelings—reclaim your time by doing the serious stuff and getting rid of what doesn't serve you.
2. Boundaries Are About You
Setting healthy boundaries is about creating balance within yourself and your reality. You have to determine your relationship to all things in your life: career, significant others, family, school, money, friends, spirituality.
Since you are the creator of your reality, every choice you make is all about you. No one else, just you. And healthy boundaries must be set in all areas of your life because you don’t want to drain yourself trying to satiate desires that are not in line with your true intentions.
Every choice you make is all about you. No one else, just you.
My intentions were never about me. They were rooted in the relationships that I had, particularly the ones I had with men, out of insecurity. I felt so insecure about my relationship with whatshisface that I couldn’t accept it for what it was, the true value it added to my life, and the growth it offered.
Instead, I focused all my energy on my desire for us to create our own version of Brown Sugar. I forgot about my main source of power—myself—and I was damaged.
Your intentions should always be about unearthing your authentic self. You have all the agency to change those lines by changing your thoughts about yourself. You are worthy of everything that you desire, even if setting those boundaries means letting go of what you thought you needed.
You are making space for yourself to experience the fullness of you.
3. Healthy Boundaries Teach Love
Making room for yourself by adjusting your boundaries is the ultimate form of love. Sometimes when you begin to pay attention to yourself, you force others to fall into themselves and question why you have become so particular about your happiness and reclaiming your time.
People may begin to see themselves in you and make those changes that are needed to experience the power and growth that comes with setting healthy boundaries.
I don’t know what old boy is doing with his life right now. I actually hope that he is thriving. I hope he is growing and learning and finding the patience to deal with his own insecurities. I can only see what was going on from my point-of-view—and it was unhealthy. I may never understand his side, and I don’t have to because the love I have for myself is way more vital than what I expected him to give me.
When you create that space and set those healthy boundaries, you are able to see into yourself and find the love you were looking for.
I will be honest: I am human. There are parts of me that still want to recreate my own version of Brown Sugar with him, but I am letting go of those expectations and moving forward with my life. My boundaries are not about him, but they are about my need to find peace and love within myself. I was caught up loving (read: obsessing) over him, trying to overstep boundaries, and force expectations—I wasn't living my life.
Everything we do is for love. Start loving yourself by setting healthy boundaries and watch your life change.
And know that setting healthy boundaries is all about remembering who you are:
You are the dream.
You are your greatest desire.
You are everything you are looking for.
Set those healthy boundaries and fall in love with yourself.
This article originally appeared on Soul Feminist.
Read next: How I Learned Not to Pour From an Empty Cup)
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