"I know I'm supposed to forgive," a woman said to me (Dr. Cloud) at a recent seminar. "But, I just can't open myself up to that kind of hurt anymore. I know I should forgive him and trust him, but if I let him back in, the same thing will happen, and I can't go through that again."
"Who said anything about 'trusting' him?" I asked. "I don't think you should trust him either."
"But you said I was supposed to forgive him, and if I do that, doesn't that mean giving him another chance? Don't I have to open up to him again?"
"No, you don't," I replied....
Sarah had been working on major boundaries issues in her therapy for a while now. She was seeing progress in resolving responsibility conflicts with her parents, her husband, and her kids. Yet today she introduced a new issue.
"I haven't told you about this relationship before, though I guess I should have. I have tremendous boundary problems with this woman. She eats too much, and has an attacking tongue. She's undependable — lets me down all the time. And she's spent money of mine and hasn't paid me back in years."
"Why haven't you mentioned her before?" I asked.
"Because she's me," Sarah replied....
When you've been let down by someone who matters a great deal to you, moving beyond boundaries is not easy work — but it is important. One thing you can do in this regard is to figure out if the problem that was previously an obstacle is truly being transformed. In other words, is this person really changing? Is the big problem being solved the right way?
Here's an example. I (Dr. Townsend) worked with a couple in which the husband, Bill, was a nice guy but irresponsible. He was one of those likeable people who loves to hang out with others and is a lot of fun. But Bill's performance in life did not match up to his personality...