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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Boundaries are extremely painful

Does anyone remember on Pee Wee's playhouse when there was a "word of the day" and every time someone used that word every character would explode with excitement and scream? In our house, I feel like we have a word of the day but the screams are not so much exciting as much as excruciating and that word is BOUNDARIES. Anthony and I are notoriously bad at boundaries. Granted, we have both grown a lot in the last couple of years what with me attending therapy every time the sun shines and with him being with me in Graduate School and using the word like it was printed in the Bible. We have also been attending Premarital therapy for about a year and that has helped us both to learn this word and use it on a regular basis. Yesterday I had an extremely difficult experience with boundaries and I thought I could share it on here in order to get it out of my own head.

I have been working for the same "family" for 4 years as their nanny. I came when Chris (boy I nanny for) was 11 years old. I work for a single father which is why the word family was in quotes. Chris' mother sometimes has him on weekends, however, lately it has been more his father having him all of the time. When I started, it was with the knowledge that I would be responsible for getting Chris to where he needed to go, help him with his homework, and fix dinner 4 nights a week for he and his father. These things seemed reasonable for the pay and it provided me a home, food, utilities, and cable and internet as well. I also knew it meant doing dishes and folding laundry occasionally for the two of them.

It did not take long before the tables turned and not in my favor. I still received the same pay and amenities however I soon became responsible for errands involving the house like picking up groceries, getting home repairs completed, cleaning and filing in the office, picking up the father's dry cleaning, picking up the father's prescriptions, doing the father's Christmas shopping entirely, wrapping said presents, buying major things for the house like appliances and having those repaired when needed, researching private schools for Chris and doing all the application materials, and the list continues for pages and pages. Again, there was no increase in pay, only in work.

In 2006, I decided to start graduate school while I was a nanny to save myself having to pay rent while in school. I also met Anthony that year and knew that he was pretty much the beginning of my continued future. I started to resent that my entire job description was now changed and I had grad school and a boyfriend to think about and no more pay. I went to my boss and explained how I felt and he stated that he always "wanted to get me where I was doing all of these things." I wonder why that wasn't mentioned in the initial interview. He gave in and ended up giving a $1.00 raise and then eventually another $1.00 raise in 6 months. This did not really do what I wished but again, boundaries are not my strong suit.

Things went on as always and Chris' father knew that I had plans to leave at the end of Chris' freshman year of high school and that Anthony and I would be moving on with our lives elsewhere. When I told him my leave date, he started looking for another nanny for Chris. Yes, he is too old for a nanny in my opinion as well. That being said, Anthony and I started looking for apartments. Towards the beginning of April we became serious about finding a apartment. This same time frame is when Anthony was in a car accident on the job and it caused a lot of difficulty in those plans but we forged on. We found a place and had signed a lease by April 18th. Chris' father knew that meant I was moving out. I was talking with him about the current stresses in my life with finding a new home, a new job, and then finishing grad school and he offered to let me have the job for another year.

You can imagine what I said since my boundaries are so ..we'll call them...wiggly. I already hated my job at this point due to the extreme increase in job responsibility so it was lurking over me like the plague. I went to Anthony and told him how I was offered the position for another year. I already mentioned that my boyfriend's boundaries aren't much better than mine. He thought about our current worries with his job and me having something for certain sounded better than the tightrope we were currently walking. We agreed as a couple that staying on as the nanny was the "best" thing for all involved.

Right after I made this decision, Chris started going to the torture chamber lovingly called Drake Institute. I don't have anything against this place per say except that they expect a kid who is already diagnosed with ADD inattentive type to come to their clinic 5 days a week for 2-3 hours a day and be able to go home afterward and do his homework. Are you kidding me? This added a whole new ugly dimension to my job. I was not able to get Chris done with his homework any night for his bedtime but regularly was getting to my apartment by 11:00 or midnight just to get up the next morning and drive an hour in traffic to pick him up for school the next day. I had to get downright miserable before making a boundary here. I was driving to Newport Beach every morning from Anaheim and literally nodding off on the freeway with a steaming hot cup of boyfriend coffee in my hand. Side note, my boyfriend makes such good coffee I hardly go to starbucks anymore!

So I finally set a boundary with Chris' father that I would not be able to take him to school if I was out the night before with him doing homework. His father willingly obliged to "help me out" and take his own son to school in the mornings when Drake kept us up. How kind of him! So that went on for a week before something in me snapped yesterday. I went to my supervision for my practicum and I realized that NOTHING gets the best of me anymore. My boyfriend gets the last of me at the end of a busy day. My practicum site gets me when I am not exhausted from working the night before. My therapy gets me if I can get out of bed to get there. My diabetes gets me if I have time before running out the door to make the Drake appointment. My leisure gets me if I don't fall asleep watching television or reading a book. I miss scrapbooking, working out, reading for fun, enjoying school, having a clean house, etc... I am lost.

So, yesterday after wise counsel and a stubborn streak a mile long, I did what I knew had to be done. I quit! Now, I gave him plenty of notice so he can find another 5 people to do the job I have been doing. I am staying through the school year like originally planned and will leave at the end of my summer. I will go back to grad school with time to actually read my assignments, get the topics at hand and pay attention to being a therapist. I want so much for my life but more than anything I want to be a woman who cares for herself. I am proud of what I did yesterday and although I am scared at what this means for my finances, my ability to manage, and my neuroses......I know I did the right thing and God will bless it and hopefully teach Chris and his father some valuable lessons from this loss. God pushes me everytime and he is always right.

Thanks for reading about my wiggly boundaries. Feel free to comment. I welcome the input!


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