Magic circles…

‘You draw a circle of gold around your immediate family and anybody who puts a toe inside and causes trouble, be it family, friends or outsiders, are out.’

I rang my Mum this morning to check on the exact words for this quote, as they came from a wonderful lady created from frontier stock who lived in Africa. Our family loved her.

I have thought about her words in the last few years and how her ethic was all about love and strong boundaries. During the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, the hubbub of everyday life quietened down, creating time and space to think. The ways we show up in the world changed and as we pick up the threads of life again, there is the choice on which ones we weave.

Some souls could start a fight in an empty room and live by projecting their sharp feelings onto those around them. There are reasons and layers to their behaviour, but they need to lessen and ease their pain which causes them to empty it over others. Then the gentler souls in the mix try to smooth things over and restore peace. The uncomfortable feelings build up inside the angry souls again and they set off another cycle. And so it goes on. In the last few years, some patterns have become neon signs begging for attention, so when I found myself cornered in a drama, I banged down a boundary. My actions were unplanned, taking myself and others by surprise. After sharing a short explanation with the person emptying their angst, I closed with these words.

‘I am done.’

With some people, there has been fallout, but having explained it simply, once, I have not entered into further discussion. My thinking is that their issues are not mine to fix and also, any more discussion will set off a new cycle running on old patterns.

Boundaries are never easy because they spark fears of how people see us and what they expect from us, yet, the most compassionate people I have met, nurture the strongest boundaries.

61 thoughts on “Magic circles…”

  1. Boundaries are probably a good idea, but one I’ve not used much, other than stopping to interact with them. Kudos on being conscious and intentional about it with this person Jane.

    1. I never say never, Jim, but the pattern has been running for years and getting sharper. I have banged down boundaries with a few, where the patterns were entrenched. A bit of a life prune, one could say. <3

  2. petespringerauthor

    As a fixer, I’ve had to learn that I can’t fix everything, nor should I try. “I’m done” is often often the better approach as some folks can’t seem to live their lives without a ton of drama. “No thanks. I’m done.”

  3. This was a very important read for me. I am one of those who lets her draw into discussions and starts explaing or defending herself. I never “won” an argument since I felt helpless. Over time I only got more and more insecure. In hindsight I always asked myself why I did join in? And I got angry about myself. It makes no sense at all because the problem is coming from the one emptying their unhappiness over me… I love what you said here and “I am done”. I will keep your words close to my heart.

    1. Erika, what lovely thoughts you share, espressed beautifully. Yes, it has taken me years to realise that I am not creating these dramas and I used to defend and explain till I was blue in the face. The awareness that this only feeds the others need for attention and they were not listening, eventually floated up and I saw it. I hold you in my heart. <3 xXx

      1. I totally get what you say and I admire you for how you broke through that pattern. It makes me so much more aware of the fact that I need to pay more attention to my reflexive reaction. As I said, this spoke so strongly to me. Thank you for your kindness, Jane 💖

  4. I’ve learned that every family is dysfunctional, and every one has the tendency to get messy. Most of time, it’s where closeness is unavoidable. But, like you, there comes a time when for your own sanity, you must hold up the hand…… (my nephew calls it the ‘you are dead to me’ sign). It never really means that I’m done; but rather that unless there’s a change, I’m done talking about it. Once I realize the entire conversation is aimed at getting me to change how I feel…..well, I’m done! Go you! I love you! <3

    1. I love the thought of your ‘dead ot me’ sign, Bobbie. You are fabulous. When another’s actions are deliberately aimed to cause pain in others, that is my ‘I am done’ point. Rare. I love you. <3 xXx

  5. Well done, Jane. I wonder if your reaction to that person’s sharpness will make them think about their part in this drama and consider whether they need to deal with their unhappiness in different ways? That would be an excellent outcome for all, I think. I am pleased you let your feelings be known; we can be caring and understanding up to a point but then it is best to back off, especially if we are being hurt or used in the process. One of my neighbours can be very sharp and critical and I have always been wary of her. However, a few months ago she admitted to me she knows she can be critical and sometimes hurtful to others but she told me she suffers from stress and anxiety and I know she suffers from a number of physical complaints as well as almost constant pain. She told me that if she doesn’t speak out when she see or hears something she doesn’t like she becomes so upset she makes herself ill! I am sure she is telling the truth, but that also gives me no hope of an improving relationship with her.
    I hope the fallout to your putting down boundaries doesn’t become problematic – there are always ripples, sometimes waves in the water after we make our feelings known.
    Love and hugs xxXXxx <3 <3

    1. It is lovely to hear from you and to read your shared story, Clare. Your neighbour is aware os her bahviour, yet unable to change it, so yes, I think you have no option but to keep a respectful distance. When another’s actions are set to wound others and they see no need to change, then stepping back is a loving option.

      I have drawn a line on a few connections in the last two years. The main one has caused many waves over the years, but since my ‘I am done’ moment, the seas have calmed. I am simply not sailing in her seas anymore. Simple really, but our caring natures keep taking up back in, hoping that love will bring about a change. The time has to come to call a halt.
      Much love and huge, soft hugs flowing to you, always. Xx <3 <3

      1. These decisions are not easy to make because I always want a happy outcome and to be on good terms with everyone. However, this isn’t possible with certain people who won’t see their behaviour as contentious! I am so pleased you are now in calmer waters – you have had enough to deal with recently without having to put up with bad behaviour. Love and lots of hugs back to you, my dear friend xxXXxx <3 <3 <3

        1. You are so lovely, Clare and yes, these decisions to step away can be heartbreaking depending on the connection involved. It was my sister, right in the middle of me organising Dad’s funeral and supporting Mum. I nearly went under from it, but my spirit rose and I held the front line and carried on, yet my ‘I am done’ moment was clear. Much love and many hugs flowing back to you, always. Your love and understanding is a gift. <3 Xxxx <3 <3

    1. Thank you, Robbie. I think we never stop learning. The older I get the less I seem to know. We are all a wonderful work in progress. Much love to you all, especially your Dad. <3 Xxx

  6. Life is too short, and getting shorter and whilst I may have attempted to ‘fix’ things when younger and less cynical, I stay away from those who are intent on disrupting my life with their dramas. I am not perfect by any means. One of the advantages of being online is that it can be easier to distance yourself. In real life, however you have to say ‘I am Done. more emphatically.. Terrific post Jane..♥

  7. This is a great thought provoking post, Jane.

    “i am done” could be easily said to an unrelated ‘friend’ or ‘acquaintance’, someone to whom we owe nothing, or no longer owe anything. With these folks it is best to sever contact before the “I’m done” moment arrives. This is careful self preservation

    However, what about family? Ah ha now it gets hard because the family is not one relationship but an entire network of interwoven relationships, Our family has some drama workers in it, some with whom we have all been tempted to say “I’m done”. My brother, a calm loving person such as yourself, has even done so. But even when a break is made, as time heals and maybe the perpetrator improves we eventually re-establish contact for the mutual well-being of the whole. I’d hate to think of a completely divided sparring family all “done” with each other.

    Life presents tough decisions and I fully endorse protecting oneself from unnecessary anger and pain.

    1. Hello Jane, I hear you and admire you. My one family ‘I am done’ moment was with a sibling. Her behaviour has got worse over the years and her ability to wound sharper. I have managed to step back and do not stir the pot with other family members. No-one has to take sides from my perspective and there is no drama from me. Whenever she crops up in normal conversation I can join in with kindness and a balanced view. If her awareness shifts into a kinder energy then I will discuss it with her. Otherwise, I am done and we do not meet. I did not make this decision lightly and it has been years in the making. These decisions are heartbreaking, but as you say, there comes a point where a line has to be drawn.
      Hugs xXx <3

      1. Yes, I agree and I suspect that sisters have the largest arsenal of tools to use to inflict pain on the very people whom they love the most. What a strange phenomena! I wish you all the best as you navigate this treacherous (and painful) time and heartedly agree that the limiting line has to be established, otherwise things will continue to escalate. I am thankful that my brother is the one, in our family circle, who established where that “I’m done” line was.

  8. Well said, Jane, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I have done the same, especially as I’ve grown older when life becomes clearer. I have a better understanding of what I want, what I won’t put up with or what I feel too old to deal with such as games and drama with others. The only games I want to play are like Scrabble, etc, and the only drama I enjoy are those I choose to watch on TV or in movies. 🙂 Sending hugs! xoxo

    1. Beautifully put, Lauren. I am in whole hearted agreement. As we make these intentions, I find th euniverse tests them, do you? A neighbour created a drama out of nothing a few days ago and tried to shift blame. I ducked, handled it and now serenely greet her yet I won’t discuss it further. I don’t let people like this get close to me anymore.

      Fancy a game of Scrabble?

      Hugs and much love flowing to you, always. <3 Xxx <3

      1. I love your attitude, Jane…”I ducked, handled it, and now serenely greet her yet I won’t discuss it further.” Smart decision. And yes, Scrabble anytime! I love that game. 🙂 💗💗💗

  9. Wow, this provoked many … it’s an interesting subject, that obviously most have had to deal with. It’s how I learned of my passive aggressive self. I’d usually just let it roll, until there would come an event that “set me off” and then I became a person no one recognized. I finally learned about myself somewhere around age 50 ! From there I’ve managed it well, and learned it’s ok to get and express anger, be assertive not aggressive ! Now it’s like theirs “we can talk about the weather” but that’s where it ends, then I’m walking away. People who feel compelled to make you think the way they do, or insist on dragging you into their (sad) story, need the ‘hand’ as Bobbie puts it. Great post! Keep freeing yourself, it’s life’s greatest reward!

    1. Much love to you, Pete. I used to like you, rolling, then when truly pushed morphing into someone no-one knew. I have learned these boundaries and expressing myself at the time, much later in life! It’s a journey isn’t it and we never stop learning. Hugs for you, my buddy. <3 Xxx

        1. I am so with you, Pete, on this. It’s surprising isn’t it, how many pennies have dropped in the last decade? Gifts, no doubt, but not always fun. Huge hugs for you. <3 Xxxxx

  10. Several years ago when it was thought that we were going to lose my wife ( we still have her) her cardiac surgeon and I were talking about a number of subjects. In that talk he gave me some of the best advice I have ever gotten. He told me that negative people needed to be out of my life yesterday.

    1. So many blessings in your thougthful comment. For the surgeon and his skills in saving your wife and sharing his life wisdom. Our hearts have memories and store emotional pain. Thank you for visiting, taking time to read and comment and for following. <3 for you and your wife. Xx

  11. There’s a line in “The Desiderata”…..”Avoid loud and aggressive persons, for they are a vexation to the spirit.” I’ve tried to live by that, though it is hard sometimes. Wishing you more happiness for establishing this boundary.

  12. Good for you, Jane! Boundaries are so often birthed from wisdom… every heart needs that space for inner peace. The irony is that clearly defined boundaries can lead to stronger connections with others. I see/feel it as an extension of grace in honouring own own hearts and those who struggle to honour theirs. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. Much gratitude and love to you, xo

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