Be Kind but Firm–Setting Boundries round your Chronic Health issues

Because my style in the past has been to be over-accomodating, not wanting anyone to feel offended, afraid that they won’t like me if I don’t answer intrusive questions (and who am I to say what’s intrusive? Maybe I am a bit over-sensitive), I let myself be a doormat doormat doormat…until Dakini woman has fucking HAD it and EXPLODES in an astounding fury that leaves claw marks and fur flying and people running for the door.

No broken bones or anything–I’m not a violent person. Despite what my ex-spouse CONNED the judge into believing. Judges are lazy for the most part, except the very few heroes who go for the SPIRIT of the law rather than the LETTER of the law. Holding to the letter of the law is simple. Simple tactics for simple minds. Holding to the spirit is trickier. Requiers getting down from the elevated podium and listening to what the issues really are, to what the little peeps presenting each side of the case are really saying. Year after year, whining plaintiff after defensive defendant I imagine it gets hopelessly tedious to actually make real judgements instead of rubber-stamping according to the most obvious solution via letter of the law.

That doesn’t make it right or fair. I have a chip on my shoulder. It comes from having to go pro se against the slimiest lawyer in Key West because my last name makes me a hated figure among lawyers–although I did nothing to deserve that hatred–it was all the work of the spouse who knows the system and hired the slimeiest and most effective lawyer that no other lawyer would take on–10 minutes before I tried to hire her…and had none of my phone calls returned. Bitch. I wanted her first and if I’d have gotten her, things would be verrry different. Please take no offense by “slime”. It’s a compliment in lawyer-speak. It means you are slick, slippery–they cannot grab hold of you long enough to win any motion while you escape without a blemish to your name because really, you are too damned smart to be unethical. There’s no need for a lawyer to be unethical if she’s smart. The system in inherently foul and corrupt. All a lawyer needs to do is work it effectively.


Anyway, several peeps have suggested I file down my rough edges. I piss people off. I’m too blunt. But without my edges, I’d just slime through life like all the smart, ethical people working a foul, corrupt system. I don’t want to do that. I’d rather make some feathers fly. Bruise a few egos. Get unfriended and refriended an back again.


Those who KNOW me know my true value and don’t mind a little loofah–in fact know it’s absolutely necessary for a clear complexion AND a clear conscience.

Here’s what’s got me rolling, a piece by a woman with ulcerative colitis writing about making it through the holidays without getting her own feathers ruffled. I can learn something here. While it feels good to say “go fuck yourself” for a momentary rush of adrenaline to my energy-deprived chronically fatigued body, the hangover is nasty.


from: Permission to Heal – Dr. Abby Caplin’s weblog (tried to do a fancy link but was defeated. sigh. I could link videos, multi-media, audio, images, interplanetary commentary, but not a simple written blog piece. I guess writing is obsolete. Like eating meat.


You can expect that others will attempt to cross your boundary at any gathering. This is normal and natural. You need to position the boundary for them—they don’t know what or where it is! To help the process, it is important to be prepared with appropriate answers and tactics that are kind yet effective.

Let’s say you’d rather your health not be the centerpiece of conversation. Here are some possible actions you can take:

  • Speak ahead of time with your closest relatives and friends, and let them know what you want. You could say something like “I know the topic of my health will come up. I don’t want this to be a focus. Please help me divert the conversation to something else. Can you do this with me?”
  • Prepare vague answers that will leave the questioner feeling appreciated, then divert. For example: “How are you, really?” an acquaintance asks. “Oh, I’m better. [vague answer] Thanks for asking. [appreciation] Let’s talk about it later, OK? Not here. How are you?” [diversion]

Let’s say Uncle Ted says, “So, tell me about your health. Are you still having that trouble with, uh, what’s it called?”

What is your boundary with Uncle Ted? Know this ahead of time. Below are some possible boundary decisions with suggested responses for each:

  • A. You want him to know all about it. Tell him.
  • B. You want him to know, but the time and place doesn’t feel comfortable. “I really want you to know. Let’s talk about it later, though, OK?”
  • C. You know he doesn’t really care, and it’s none of his business. “Oh, it’s got a long name, but things are under control. [vague answer] (Consider sending him a little wink.) Thanks. [appreciation] What’s up with you, Uncle Ted? How’s your business doing? Are you going on vacation soon? Do you still have that great car?” [diversion]

Again, this useful method consists of using vague answers, briefly expressing appreciation, then diverting the conversation with questions of your own. With a bit of practice, you’ll find that you are in control. You can even approach the exercise of setting your boundaries as a bit of a game, and have fun playing it!

Back at the dinner table, Cousin Betty is still worrying about the nuts in the salad. You might want to give her a big smile and say, “Please don’t worry about a thing. I’ll take exactly what I need. It’s all good!”


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