For many years now a car full of Jehovah Witnesses have made their way every so often to my home; taking the 3 mile trek down our dirt road to knock on my door. A section of the road, by the way, which has less than a dozen homes. Not much bang for the buck in terms of spreading the word.
Yet, they come anyway, and for the longest time that was OK by me. I got to know one of them, Patricia, a little bit. A kind, warm, grandmotherly figure. Part of me felt like it was really nothing to give them a few minutes of my time. More to the point, I do respect what they are doing (awkward and weird as it can be when they show up at your door). I also felt for them somehow; what it took to go knocking on stranger’s doors. Then there is the part of me that had a soft spot for them as my own great-grandmother, who I adored, was a Jehovah. And then one last part of me felt like to be the person I most want to be meant being open to these visitations.
Only, at some point, it really, really stopped working for me. The visits that began to increase in frequency, with less and less time in between. How in the beginning I might only see them once or twice a year, but then how that began to shift to every couple of months. And then, at times, even more frequent than that. Patricia started bringing more people to introduce me to. One time they even tucked their literature into my own personal writing and reflections that I had left spread out on a table on my back porch.
It was enough.
I went through all kinds of thoughts and feelings on this one. Many reflections on boundaries, and what it means to set one. There were times when I felt angry about what was happening. At other times I felt trapped. There were the moments when what was happening pulled up other boundary violations and troubles from the past. And then, my own “personal favorite,” the moments when I felt as though there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t just be OK with this.
By the time they showed back up again, I had done a lot of work on this one. When the boundary I needed to set with them came out of me, it came out clear and kind. It came out effortlessly and with grace. It came out in a way where she and I were actually on the same page; with Patricia already having recognized that this was no longer working for me.
In the end, it seems as though beyond all of my struggling with this one, I just needed to name it with her. I just needed to say out loud that it no longer worked for me for them to come by. The whole exchange was so natural that as we parted, and I have no idea which one of us initiated it, we both reached into the space and clasped hands.
I cried afterwards. The reason for my tears was the recognition that a big part of my struggle with this was that I actually and genuinely liked her.
It is so much easier to draw a line when we do not like someone, or when we are absolutely fed up. But oh how difficult to choose for ourselves (and ultimately the other) when we like someone, or when the mind keeps saying, “What’s the big deal, it’s not really harming you.”
This is what we are left to decide in the day to day with loved ones and others we encounter. Those times and circumstances where sure, we could let it go. We could put up with it. Sure, we could tolerate it for all of the reasons the mind will come up with. But at what cost? At what cost to the Truth within, and between us?
I do not know where the line is for you, but I do know one thing; clear boundaries set the stage for a sense of personal wholeness and well-being, which translates into more harmonious and satisfying encounters with others. Even if that means doing something that feels hard. For whatever the reason.