That’s right, you heard me. Own it. Someone’s going to make you the villain of their story regardless — you might as well wear it like a badge of honour, because their opinion means d***.
There are always three sides to every story; yours, theirs, and the truth. Very rarely do all three perfectly align. It usually comes down to a he said-she said situation, with both sides stating their arguments, compromising or agreeing to disagree, and moving on.
When someone is determined to make you the enemy, no amount of compromise will do. You are a threat to their plotting and scheming, their overall existence. If they flip the narrative and put the focus on you and your awful, horrible, no good, very bad tendencies, who will be watching them?
Blood doesn’t mean family; family doesn’t mean blood. As you get older, you have the amazing benefit of choosing who you surround yourself with, and nowhere in the “Adulting Handbook” does it say your toxic family – whether it be parents, siblings, or other – are automatically included in your sacred circle.
Here are some rules I’ve learned over the years and things to be aware of when it comes to setting boundaries to help you own up to your “villain” title in true fashion:
1. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
You can hope and dream that they will be accepting and understanding of the boundaries you set, but remember: they’ve gotten accustomed to you not having a boundary. Expect some conflict here initially, but hold your ground.
2. Stick to it!
Don’t set a rule in place, only to bend or break it a few minutes later. Not only are you letting this person know that you can be haggled with and manipulated into doing what they want, but bet your ass they’ll use it again to their advantage in the future.
3. Be ready for a walk down Guilt Trip Alley.
Because not only have you taken something away from them, but you must be out to get them to be this cruel. They are family, after all — how could you?
4. There will likely be casualties.
When you cut off one family member, there are usually a few more that will also follow because said cut-off family member is great at telling stories and playing the victim. Hold your head high and realize you’re better off to begin with. Anyone that believes a story at face value without consulting sources or other parties involved isn’t worth you getting upset over.
5. You don’t always have to be the bigger person.
Sometimes what pettiness calls for is more pettiness. Not because it will actually solve anything, but because it can actually be therapeutic in a way. In no way does this mean I’m encouraging or condoning violence or destruction of property, but if I can find a way to make their day a little more difficult, I’ll take it.
6. Remember who is responsible for the situation or predicament.
You are not in control of how someone feels or reacts to something. You are not in charge of their emotional well-being or of making sure they fully comprehend something. You are not responsible for the choices they have made to get them to this point. You can be there and support them, but it is not your responsibility to fix them or the situation.
7. Lastly, have grace, understanding, forgiveness and compassion… for yourself.
When you begin to cut contact with “family” members, there is a certain sense of betrayal and disappointment you feel. Not necessarily right away, but it’s there. You’ve let your family down, you’ve broken that family trust/promise, and you’ve disappointed them. Shake those negative voices out of your head because that’s your poisoned brain talking. It’s much easier said than done and there’s a very good chance you’ll break one, if not several, of these rules of engagement when you first begin your elimination round. It’s normal to resist change or for change to feel a little weird and unknown at first. It does get easier.
Setting boundaries and sticking to them helps others not only respect you and your time, but helps you respect yourself more because you’re working toward taming your wild people-pleasing ways and putting yourself first when necessary. It’s a process and something you have to work on every single day, but the freedom is exhilarating and allows for us villains to continue our villainous ways for another day.