Boundaries as Prayers

It’s been a long time since I’ve been this shaken…

We have a cherished family member, a soul with disabilities, who has become entangled in a web of deceit spun by a woman who claims to be his friend. This ‘friend’ has manipulated him into surrendering thousands of dollars, and with the lines of trust so blurred, he cannot seem to say no. In an attempt to protect him from further harm, we created a boundary—a Power of Attorney designed to grant him independence while curbing access to larger sums of money, in the hopes of preventing him from being drained by her constant demands.

The boundary was tested over the weekend, and when this ‘friend’ realised she was not going to get anything this time, knowing that I was managing the legal aspects she left me a vile and threatening voicemail.

The venom in that message is still with me.
It’s been extraordinarily hard to shake.

Afterwards, we realised that since we couldn’t legally prevent him from seeing her, for our own sanity and safety we needed to put another boundary in place. Crestfallen, we let this beloved family member know that if he continues this relationship, we are left with no choice but to cut ties with him for now. It feels like an act of cruelty, and we are heartbroken. But the angels in social services have assured us that it’s the best path, a path of preservation and protection for all involved.

Our need to care for ourselves this way feels self-serving and in direct conflict with our love for this special human being. But sometimes in the wild tapestry of family, the threads of love and care need to be woven into boundaries, even when it feels like it’s pulling your own heart apart. The pain of this boundary feels like a heavy cloak, draped over everyone involved.

When I was walking this morning and thinking about what I’d write today It occurred to me that boundaries are not barricades to shut people out; they are beacons that signal a need for change. They are a lifeline thrown to both the vulnerable and the manipulator, declaring that certain behaviours will no longer be accepted. Love, in all its complexity, sometimes demands this action.

Boundaries can also be a profound act of love, saying “I see you, I care for you, and I cannot idly stand by as you’re taken advantage of.”

Boundaries can be our prayers, whispered with love, and punctuated with our tears. They remind us that love sometimes wears the face of tough choices wrapped in the arms of courage and compassion.

© Julie Smerdon 2023

Photo: Pete Longworth

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