The Difficulty in Attunement- or- I suck at Boundaries


Apparently, I learned in therapy this week, that I really suck at boundaries. Don’t worry, my therapist didn’t actually say that, but the realization that I actually do suck at putting up boundaries, especially with family, was evident by the conversation I was having with her. Somewhere along the line I started to attune to the world around me. And in order to get my needs met, I began to change and shift and mold myself based on the signals I was reading.

Yes, I blame adoption.

But I know that it’s probably much more complicated than living with genetic strangers who didn’t have an “automatic” attunement or attachment to me (or I to them) like I’ve experienced with Potamus. And who knows if my natural attunement toward him is even real or just going to screw him up just as much.

But somewhere later along the line I obviously made an almost-conscious decision to be everything to everybody. And I really think that the things that set the ball in motion for my current angst was the decision to spend our honeymoon travelling to various family member’s houses for Christmas. I was still hemorrhaging from my vagina and I was doing the dishes, with Boof, while our son was passed around like a football. I had failed to set a good boundary. Sure I tried before he was born, but once I was in the moment, like many times, I’ve gritted my teeth and bore it until much time and reflection later I realized: I’m really freaking tired and annoyed.

Next week “the holidays” start. I love Thanksgiving. but imaging the drive over Snoqualmie Pass with my son and our dog in our Subaru to battle other Thanksgiving traffic to spend two days with my family seems exhausting. And yet I also feel obligated. It’s their year after all…we’ve put it off long enough. But Christmas only a month later I know that I am really stretching myself, again, and all I want to do is sleep.

See, we got married on December 20th. Where most people would just leave right away on their honeymoon, we spent three nights away, and then drove to Eastern Washington and then to Idaho on a family Christmas ‘road trip’ to spend the holidays with our respective families. Because we hadn’t ever spent a holiday with each set of our families, even while engaged, we though it’d be “fun” to do. And it was. I enjoyed the time, getting to really mesh with our new in-laws and also get to spend time with my family for my own lovely traditions.

But.

But.

As we’re closely approaching our fifth wedding anniversary, I look back and think how pivotal that decision was to our overall experience relating to our families. While it was fun, and it solidified our experience of the traditions, it also created a dynamic where we knew what it was like to not miss out…nobody had to give anything up…though, to be honest, the rushed dither from here to there and back across the state was exhausting. And it felt like in both places we were really only giving 80%. Instead of saying ‘this year it’s my family, 100%’ it was sorta like we were half-assing everything.

And then Potamus was born….on our anniversary. And now suddenly we’re in this dilemma of celebrating his birthday, our anniversary (my birthday a week before our anniversary) AND Christmas…with both families. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. I’m also exhausted remembering cooking “Christmas dinner” three days postpartum while my parents bickered over who had gotten more time holding the wee one.

So, tell me people, how do you put your and your immediate (children) family first and set boundaries with in-laws and extended family….especially when you also have the “I don’t want to miss out” mentality, too.

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