The second I feel like I’ve been hurt by someone my instinct is to just move away, and that has cost me so many relationships in my life. I’ve learned it’s far better to set boundaries. Personal boundaries are the foundation of self respect. For me, it’s easier to set them up with the newer people in my life. But how do you set fresh boundaries with the people you’ve known for a long time? Let’s tawk.
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Jaxson, Jaime Primak Sullivan
Jaime Primak Sullivan 00:00
Hey everybody, it’s Jaime-Primak Sullivan and you’re listening to LET’S TAWK. I am joined by..
Jaime Primak Sullivan 00:14
Okay, so there’s a lot, as you know, like happening in the world right now. A lot. And I feel like that’s Evergreen, by the way, Evergreen, you don’t even have to say what’s happening in the world, you can just say there’s so much going on in the world, especially in America right now. And it’s Evergreen. Makes sense, for now makes sense for 50 years ago, makes sense for 50 years from now. But you can’t determine the way that the people you love will react or respond to the things that are going on in the world. And you can’t count on them responding the way you do, which is tricky.
Especially when you care about these people, and you and you care about the way they feel about things.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 01:05
Right. And also you care about the respect you have for them, or the steam in which you hold them. And so when you are so profoundly like off course about things, it makes you question, if these relationships, friendships, romantic relationships, siblings, whatever it is, if they can be codified, right, like, and so a little context, Jaxson and I were having conversation about a situation with a friend and I where I am feeling very conflicted about something this friend did. And it didn’t personally hurt me. It wasn’t done to hurt me, but it inadvertently is hurting me. Right? Would you say that’s accurate? And so I was explaining to Jaxson, like, I think I’m avoiding her. Because right now, I’m so angry, that I’m afraid that I will miss direct so much of that anger and my rage and my feeling at her. And although I lump her into a bigger problem, or an overall feeling, like, is it really fair? So I’m sort of like working through that and sorting through that. And Jaxson said to me, have you tell them what you said to me?
I said, basically, have you told her what it is you would like to hear from her?
Jaime Primak Sullivan 02:43
Right. Which is an interesting thing, because for me, it’s like, if you have to tell somebody what you need to hear from them, is it still worth hearing? And that, for me, is the conundrum? Because if I have to tell you exactly how I need you to be sorry, or to say sorry, or how to feel or whatever, so that you can regurgitate my own sentiment, my own words. You know, is it still meaningful? Will it have the same impact? Or am I just gonna walk away feeling like, well, you just said what I told you to say, because I told you to say it. At the same time, people aren’t mind reader’s. And they may not understand how profoundly their actions have impacted you. And if you don’t explain it to them, and you don’t take the time to say, here’s the perspective I need you to see. And here’s what I need to hear to move forward. You know, I don’t you know, I don’t know what the right.
It’s a real pickle. Because you just say it’s a pickle. Yeah. You’ve been in a pickle before. It’s a title problem guy. But I think it comes down to how important this issue is. Because I think about just compared to my life, right now, there’s a thing that I would like someone to have said to me, but not so much that I’m going to bring it up because it’s actually going to cause more issues. But if I can get over it, I can it behind me that this is not gonna get said to me.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 04:25
Is it me? Are you sure? cuz I’ll say it right now.
Oh, my God, I would not. We just talked about it off the podcast. No, it’s not you. But I know it’s probably not gonna get saved without me prompting it. But I also know that prompting is going to change the outcome. Right? So I’m not going to but it’s not so important to me that I have to bring it up, Mike. I know I can move past it. The thing that you’re going through, I don’t know. It’s tough.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 04:53
Okay, so I’m interested to hear what you guys think. You know, if somebody that you love that you valued very much, if you were sort of at an impasse with them, and there were things you needed to hear, and they didn’t know truly that you needed to hear them, would you tell them what it is you wanted them to sort of, say or feel? So that you could move past it? Or would you be petty like me and avoid, well, it’s not petty, I have to stop doing that to myself. It isn’t petty, it is actually a trauma response. The second I feel like I have been hurt. My instinct is to just move away. And that has caused me so many relationships in my life. In fact, she has bared witness to me walking away from so many people that she I have fear. And I mean, this sincerely lives in under a certain level of fear that I will do the same thing to her. Because we’ve had those extremely unhealthy emotionally tethered text conversations. That’s like, Don’t ever leave me or I’d find you, you know. So anyway, let me know. I’m very curious how you feel about that, and what you would do and moving on from that. What was the thing we were just talking about? And I said, well wait for the podcast, not that it was one other thing. We literally, were just talking about it.
I’m not sure you said what it was, I think you just thought of it. And then said, let me wait.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 06:35
Oh God never, ever let my five year old brain do that Jaxson ever. If I say I will remember in five minutes. No, I won’t say tell me so I can write it down.
Yeah, I do know of. I mean, you want to say what the topic for today is, boundaries.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 06:53
Boundaries, personal boundaries, they are the foundation of self-respect. We believe that we deserve to be disrespected, to continue to be loved, to continue to be employable, to continue to be included, to continue to be valued. So we don’t set boundaries. We don’t set them because we are afraid that people will stop hiring us working with us, friending us loving us. And it is the most overused form of self-disrespect. That is out there learning to set boundaries for me, because my trauma response is to literally just evacuate, like, I am chronically on the Titanic. I’m sorry, was that an iceberg? I’m out of here guys, goodbye. I don’t wait for the water to start coming in. I don’t wait for the ship to start sinking. I literally jump ship. In fact, I jumped ship when we see the iceberg. We don’t even have to hit it yet. I just do it and learning to set boundaries for me. Like first I had to learn how to do it. And then I had to put it into practice. Because do you know how to set boundaries?
I mean, probably not. Probably not very well.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 08:43
And I think that’s also in fairness. I’m 20 years older than you. Holy shit Jaxson. I am 20 years older than you.
Right and as a result, especially when I’m dealing with especially like at work because I’m dealing with people that are older than me and are more established than me. I do feel like I if I were going to set a boundary I probably wouldn’t because I want to defer to more people than not. Well, it came resulting getting walked over sometimes you know?
Jaime Primak Sullivan 09:19
Well and I have a bulldozing personality. I mean I absolutely do and I can make any sort of I can glamorize it by saying like you don’t get ahead in this world as a woman if you whatever is sure, to some degree. Sure. If you’re not gonna fuck your way to the top. You might have to bulldoze your way. Marginally halfway up the hill. Fucking Okay, a lot further. No, I’m just kidding. I’m just getting kidding. No, I’m just kidding. I’m kidding. I’m actually kidding. I’m actually getting it didn’t get me a pool in the backyard. I can have a bulldozing personality, but you do a better job of like you have discernment. Here’s what I’ll tell you, you do a better job of making your point, then you think you do it in a respectful way. Which is why I allow it okay. Truthfully, sure. Like you have a great bedside manner and making your point you would actually probably be an excellent lawyer, you’d probably lose a lot because you’re not a prick.
Well, yes, that’s probably where there’s a few different limiting factors of me becoming a lawyer, but that was definitely one of the plans Kendra had in mind, was law school.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 10:53
I do love Kendra. Kendra is his Mom, by the way, not as girlfriend. But also when you start to see like when the bulldoze comes out in me, and I am chomping at the bit. And I’m hitting you with like a one two punch, and I say it and then I say it differently. And I say that you have naturally learned discernment to back off. You really have you are the like, and that I think is like that discernment in business is actually very smart. Because one day you will be 45. And there’ll be a 25 year old behind you, trying to like learn from you and whatever. And you will teach him discernment. No, no puppy snap. You know what I mean? Like now you’re biting is annoying me and I’m gonna have to show my teeth. And you’ve learned very quickly, like, oh, I know who the pack leader is. And you will be that for someone. And it’s actually what we were talking about in the Zoom that we had about the grooming, which is a terrible word. But it is such a fucking terrible word.
We’re talking about grooming in the sense of race.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 12:07
Teaching somebody behind you because that’s true. Yes, absolutely. Because that’s the important thing. So one of the places and ways in which I have had to set new boundaries in old relationships, because I don’t have to set boundaries and new relationships because now I Well, that’s almost a lie. I almost lied on myself, right? Because I do let some shitty people in. But that’s a Jamie thing, right? Like I look for trauma bonds and people so when people try to get to know me too quickly, sometimes I let my guard down. I’m like, Oh my God, this feels so good. This feels so good. Love bomb me just like love on me and text me all the time and whatever. And I’ll let you in. And then I usually get bitten. I’m like, damn, like, I knew you were a snake. And I saw that you were saying I think you bite me. Yes, they will. But the biggest for me has been setting new boundaries in old relationships. And, you know, I let certain people in my life get away with certain things for a very long time. Because I was truly a different version of myself. I was so damaged. I hadn’t done a lot of the work. So I let a lot of the guilt and emotional manipulation, especially from my mother. I let it go on. Because I didn’t have a father and like, what are you going to do cut out? Like, cut your nose off to spite your face? Like you’re going to cut your mom out? And you don’t have a dad? So then what, then you’re an orphan? That’s tough, right? So as I started to grow, and change, me getting angry with her never worked, getting angry, getting defensive, because then she would just say things like, I can’t talk to you because you’re irrational. You’re being disrespectful. And she’s right. I was being disrespectful to myself, and in turn to her because I could not set a boundary. I didn’t know how. So I started to do the work. I started to go to therapy. I started to journal.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 14:24
And I realized that I was able to say things to her and this is not just about my mother by the way. So like if you live in Marlborough and you’re friends with my mom and you play canasta, do me a favor, don’t call my mother because this is not an attack on Susan. I love my mother very much we have a very complicated relationship but when I have things to say to her, I will say them. This is I am using our relationship as an example to help others and you telling her things simply stirs the pot. Don’t be a pot stirrer unless you want me to come knock your lid off. I will. So I have written down some things that I have said, and I want you to hear them, okay? I know that I’m reacting differently this time to your behavior. Because I understand now that I need blank from you. Because she was so confused why I was allowing certain things to happen for so long. And suddenly, they were problematic for me, oh, now it’s a problem for you. And I learned to say, I know, I fully own, that I allowed this conversation, I allowed you to comment on my body for years. Because I was so broken by the body shaming and the body conversation that it almost became expected it became the norm. And so I know I allowed it to go on, and you’re very confused by my reaction. So I’m just letting you know that I used to let it go on. And now I will not. That’s a fucking boundary, Jaxson, that is a firm, clear fucking boundary. I understand this used to be okay. I understand this used to; it was never okay. But I understand I used to allow this. And now I don’t because I have a different level of self-respect. And I’m not going to allow it anymore.
And it does take that level of explaining yourself because to her, it’s just business as usual. Suddenly, business as usual is not good. But it’s always not been good. Right?
Jaime Primak Sullivan 16:43
It’s business as unusual, right? Not usual. No longer usual.
Not how we do things anymore.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 16:51
And that’s a boundary. Another one. I had to say this to a former friend. This was very hard. This was before you came into my life. I spent months crying. Months, like two full months of tears. I had to say, I have been reflecting on this friendship. And I don’t think that we are on the same page as to what is acceptable. What should be excused behavior. And you are very important to me. But I have to be more important to me. And so as painful as it is for me, I can no longer continue this friendship.
So that’s a hard boundary. That’s not just like don’t say these things. That was a hard boundary. Don’t talk to me anymore. That was a hard boundary. No, that’s one of the hardest ones.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 18:07
It is hard boundaries are tough. Because it’s not a warning. Yeah, the shots had been fired now. It’s now it’s, we’re done. And I also had this is also very hard for me to say. But I had a woman in my life that I had a romantic relationship with in the past. And we maintained a friendship for a very, very long time. And I found that every time I was lonely in my marriage or struggling in my marriage or backsliding in my marriage, or hurting in any way or felt slighted and it was getting to the point, it was so comfortable for me to do it. That it was like any minor, minor inconvenience in my marriage. You know what I mean? Like, oh, I don’t like the way Michael talked to me today. I’m gonna call this woman right I’m gonna FaceTime this woman. And I started to realize that it was, and it’s not because she’s a woman. So if you’re homophobic and you’re gonna just don’t know it because you know, that shit will get me fired up that will get me amped up and has nothing to do with the fact that we’re same sex, because I got plenty of friends that are guys and many of whom I’ve had some level of intimacy with and my husband does not give two shiznits. So this is not about being gay and don’t say it or I will set a fucking hard boundary. But I had to say to her, our friendship has always been based off I Our prior romantic relationship. And I cannot help but backslide, and go to that comfortable space with you. Every time I am minorly inconvenienced in my marriage, and I know you recognize it, and you don’t stop it, probably because the attention feels good. And maybe because you feel a certain level of safety like I’m married, I’m not leaving my husband, I live in another state. I live across the country from you, like, you know what I mean. But you’re not going to set the boundary because it’s convenient for you. I’m pouring into you and lifting you up and telling you how beautiful you are and sending you text messages and whatever. And that feels good. Who doesn’t want to be reminded that they’re cared for and needed and loved, everybody does, right? But it is not my therapist reminded me like, okay, so you’re not using food, you’re not overexercising, you’re not whatever. But you’re like emotionally wading into the ex-dating pool. And I had to set the boundary like our friendship has been based on our previous romantic relationship. And that is no longer working for me, like leaning on you. Now. I didn’t say we can’t be friends. We absolutely are still friends. But going to her in my romantic time of need is not the way because her relationship advice and her advice is biased, whether I want to believe it is or it isn’t. It is. So that was another boundary, I made a list of boundaries Jaxson.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 21:47
The last one is a big one. For me. Admitting ever that I need time for my mental health, prior to COVID was unheard of. It was unheard of my trauma response to my dad dying is hyper independence, I talk about it all the time. I don’t need anyone, I’m fine. I’m strong, I’m happy. And I am genuinely a very happy person. I’m very lucky. Truly. I don’t have mental health issues. But I have mental health. Like I have a you know, physical health or whatever. When I went into COVID, and suddenly became so responsible for everybody’s well-being like I felt a you always are responsible for your kids. But I felt a different, like, hyper focused responsibility to my children’s well-being. It changed the mental health that I had. Suddenly, I was aware of my mental health. Like, wait a minute, I’m not as easily happy today. What is that? You know? Because my pendulum swings very like Obama, Trump, I’m either like, super happy, or like, unhappy, like, truly, genuinely happy. That’s the tan suit guy, or like, ready to just tear them all a new asshole. And so what I have learned to say is I know we’ve had these conversations before, or I know you’ve done x before, you know. But I now understand that like, I really have to prioritize my mental health because there are more people than just me that rely on me having good mental health. And I can’t go to this place with you or have this conversation with you or listen to this or be triggered by x. And setting. You know, one of the things like, like, I have a friend who loves to screenshot me like any fucking bad thing that happens in my hometown, she’ll screenshot me like so and so died from our high school. So and it’s like, you open your text, and it’s like, wait, Dave Matthews died, not the singer, but like a guy from our high school. And it’s like, you have to be in a space for that kind of mental health. Like, iceberg, right? Like if my mental health is going to hit an iceberg. I would like to see it coming. Now maybe that’s wishful thinking. But boundaries help that. They help that. So I know you love to text me screenshots of upsetting conversation and people who died, whatever but I’m letting you know it doesn’t work for me anymore. Please don’t do that.
I mean, that’s a very specific instance of someone sending you sad news frequently like I don’t have anyone in my life who feels the need to do that I’ve not had to set that boundary yet. That’s a very specific one.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 25:05
That is very specific. But your needs change. People have to remember that your needs your mental health, the things that you will allow, or tolerate, or welcome. These things change, right? I had a girlfriend, who, when she was dating her, now husband, he always had his hands on her. He was very hansy. And I think she liked the attention. Who doesn’t, who doesn’t want to feel, physical touches your jam, even though it really was never hers. But I think she was just like, kind of infatuated with him. And I noticed like in her marriage, I think it was probably two good years that she would complain to me. He always has his hands on me. He’s never not touching me. The kids touch me all day. Then he’s touching me, I’m unloading the dishwasher. He’s touching my ass. I’m washing dishes. He’s his hands around my waist. He’s touching my boobs. Like, he’s still a 15 year old guy in his mind, right? Who has a hot wife with a fat ass and he wants to just be like touching her all the time. Well, she allowed it for a long time. But it started to wear her out. She started to like, almost flinch. And he didn’t understand where it was coming from. And I finally said to her set a fucking boundary, say to him, if we are not on a date, or in an intimate setting, I am not comfortable with you putting your hands in my crotch, on my ass, on my boobs around my waist. It’s jarring for me. I don’t like it. I don’t want my children to see it. It’s not comfortable for me. You don’t owe anybody an explanation as to why. And if he says, oh, well, you never had a problem with it before you say my needs have changed. And that is okay. And if they try to shit on you, or shame you, you can say I’m sorry that you’re not comfortable with the fact that my needs have changed, but they have.
Or my needs have been the same. But I am now more comfortable expressing them to you.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 27:12
Absolutely. I’m sorry, I didn’t say this before. But I’m saying now. Yeah. And I think honestly, sometimes we don’t even realize that our needs or wants have changed until we find ourself backing away from someone. And then we have to check in like, why do I continue to avoid this person’s calls. Why do I see a text message and go, hey, why is she texting me? Right? And it’s because your need of that relationship or your need of whatever energy that is, has changed. And now it’s become a burden or it’s become a danger to your mental health or it’s become abusive, or tethering, or whatever. And you’ve got to have enough self-respect to say, listen, I know for the first five years of our friendship, we texted non-stop, but I have a baby now or I have a new job now or I just don’t need that now. And I know that leaves you in a different space, but if I don’t speak up, I’m afraid that I will move so far away from you that there will be nothing to salvage, so I have to speak up for myself. And I have to set a boundary, I work from especially with family. I mean family thinks, did you ever see a cat put its paw under the bathroom door in like a video or whatever the cat just like it’s like, hey, look, I found a way to get in here. Look, I’m in here or a dog stick its nose. Like in the bathroom door to like, hey, human, you’re too far away from me. Dogs have no boundaries. None.
I liked that about them though.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 29:02
Yes, we do. Well, I don’t know sometimes I’m like, Alright Knox get off me. But family is like that cat paw. Or that dog nose. They just they think because you are blood because they gave birth to you. Because they’re your sibling or your child or your cousin? Whatever it is. Cucumber. You grew up in Boston. It’s a cucumber. You know what that is. Anyway, I love her. I actually liked her. That shit was funny and I just did it, oh my god, guys, I’m speaking Spanish. Cousin, they think they can just have access to you. Your family does that.
There’s a familiarity that you have with your family that thinks like they can text you at work which You know, sometimes they can but other times we’re busy. And so it’s like, you do have to set.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 30:04
Just so you know, we’re doing a screen sharing and every time you guys text me it comes up and Jamie can see it. So I’m gonna mute you guys, or can everybody stopped texting for the next couple hours I’m at work, like you have to set a boundary.
Or there’s an implicit one we haven’t even had to talk about. But if they were to call me right now, I would know it’s an emergency because they know not to call me during work, unless they need me.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 30:26
Your family obviously respects boundaries. But I think it comes from a level of self-respect, honestly. Especially with older relationships, because we have so much history with someone. And we’ve allowed so many behaviors and situations and so you almost feel more guilty setting the boundary? Because you’re like, Well, I’ve allowed this for so long. How can I justify my needs changing? And that’s it, guys, you don’t have to justify your needs changing? Right? Why do they just do and that’s okay. And, and, and if someone loves you and values you, they want the relationship or the working relationship or the romantic relationship to be fulfilling for both of you. I also find that when you do set boundaries with people that actually respect you, they want to meet you where you are, they want to say, okay, I understand, bear with me as I go through some learning curves, right? Like, I may text you in, you know, out of habit and just ignore me, get back to me when you can. And those are people that you want to fight for, those are the relationships you want to preserve, it’s the relationships, it’s the people who, you know, can’t change, they’re not going to do the work, they don’t see a problem with their behavior. It’s so ingrained in who they are, that you unfortunately have to be the person to say, I’ve tried to set boundaries. And you just don’t respect them. So now I have to go. And that is can make you feel especially guilty, if it is a family member, especially if it is a parent, because there is a shame and a stigma that comes along with like, oh, you don’t talk to your mom, oh, you don’t get along with your dad.
And we all there’s a part of us that regardless of however, our parents behave, there will always be a part that wants a connection with your parent, no matter the evidence of that being a bad idea that you’ve been presented with. It’s an it’s a biological imperative to, to, to, you know, want to want to be a loved child. And so it feels unnatural to cut off a parent or to set a boundary with a parent, or with a sibling, or anyone you’re related to. But when there’s blood, there’s a societal requirement that we stand by our families. And there’s a personal one, like the societal implication that like you should do this, or otherwise, you’re, you’re a bad sign or a bad daughter. But you’re not.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 33:35
No, protecting your mental health from a parent is one of the hardest boundaries to set. Because there’s nobody’s approval, you want more than your parent. And it’s a maternal or paternal love that is needed and wanted. And, you know, it’s part of it’s not just, you know, it’s not just humans, I mean, look at animals and the way they care for their young and, you know, you want that so badly and you part of you feels a little broken to have to even set a boundary with a parent, you know? Because it’s like, why did I Why do I have this Dad? Why do I have this Mom? Why couldn’t I have gotten Kendra or why? You know what I mean? Well, she is great.
I have had to set boundaries with her as well as with dad and with siblings. It’s probably not the same one that you’ve had to say.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 34:38
But that’s okay. Boundaries are boundaries. And Jaxson and I are both one of four. We’re both three. It’s tricky. It’s tough. And anyway, so I think the most important thing to take away from this conversation is twofold. One is that just because a relationship is old, and there’s time served and time invested, it does not mean that you are obligated to continue that relationship. But if you want to setting boundaries learning to you will feel so good about yourself when you set boundaries. You just will. It’s such an empowering, awesome, safe thing you can do for yourself, you know, they always, you know, they say be the change you wish you can see in the world and let’s talk is, you know, the conversation you wish you had when you needed it. And this is the conversation I wish I had when I was younger, because I didn’t have anybody to say like, this is a boundary Jaime and these relationships can be meaningful to you, but they can even be better if you set boundaries, the difficult conversation you’re avoiding is actually making your relationship with this person worse. If you could just get brave enough to understand that if you actually say the thing that you want to say, if you set the boundary you need to set and that person is respectful and receives it well. The relationship will only improve. And I wish I had that conversation when I was younger. So that is that for this episode. Jaxson, thank you as always for being part of the conversation.
Thank you for having me.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 36:29
Literally, you’re here.
I’m the only person you could have in this conversation.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 36:33
I mean, this is it, but it’s me and you. And I thank you guys so much for listening. If you like this podcast, please leave a review, subscribe, tell a friend. All the good things that you can do for conversations that are meaningful and important. And until next episode. I’m Jaime.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 36:54
And thank you so much for listening.
Jaime Primak Sullivan 36:59
Let’s Tawk is a Lemonada Media Original. Our producer is Xorje Olivares. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Jamie Primak Sullivan. Mix and scoring is by Veronica Rodriguez. Music is by Dan Molad. Please help others find the show by rating and reviewing wherever you listen. Catch my series Cawfee Tawk on the Jaime Primak Sullivan Facebook page. I’m also on Twitter at @JaimePrimak, and on Instagram at @JaimePSullivan. And follow at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms. If you want more Let’s Tawk, visit Lemonada Premium only on Apple podcasts.