If you are fortunate, or lucky, or live a rather untested life, you may have never truly reached your limit with anything. You may be able to tolerate certain behavior from others, take pain and suffering in stride, or push yourself further and further without ever breaking.
But if you’re like the rest of us, you’ve reached your limit in one way or another, more than once, and maybe you’ve even reached a point where you’re mastering the art of defining and communicating your own personal limits.
I heard an explanation while watching a documentary on the history of the band the Eagles, about their song Take it to the Limit. It’s about pushing your boundaries, taking one more step, and trying again, even if you don’t succeed.
Grief, unfortunately, is a limitless process. It’s ever-changing, always painful, and right when you think you have a grip on it, life slides right between your fingers. There is no limit to grief. It’s a process, and it is endless.
So for me, it is crucial that I know my limits in every other aspect of my life, because I know I cannot control the weight of grief, or oftentimes how it is going to affect me. I am learning, through trial and error, a lot of therapy and support from good friends, and many failures and a few successes, just how much I can take, and when I just have to stop.
When my limits are tested, when I am pushed to discomfort, when I am being asked too much, I am very aware. And as a woman, as a wife, mother, sister, friend, employee, boss, person – these limits are tested multiple times every single day. But one very important lesson that I have learned in my 38 years of life, is that I will not be guilted into extending my limits.
I used to be a person who succumbed to guilt. When others preyed on my empathy, I caved. If someone needed something from me, or demanded a change in my behavior, or needed me to act or react to their will, I did what was expected of me. I did this in my work and in my relationships, in order to keep the peace and please others. I would rather feel discomfort, than have another’s discomfort be my responsibility.
But I’m getting over that, and it’s a tough lesson for an empathetic person. I want to be liked, and I want those around me to be content and comfortable. But I’m becoming selfish, and accepting that selfish is absolutely ok.
Because I am the only person in charge of my own happiness. I can bend until I break to make others happy. But their happiness is their responsibly, not mine. Every person is the champion of their own happiness. I am the only one who can determine what I do and how I feel.
Everyone else is just going to have to figure that out for themselves.