Today I finally finished reading Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud. Reading non-fiction texts like this is a whole other world from reading a novel or something for pure pleasure, at least for me. I have to read it in small chunks in order to really digest it.
The book provides a biblical, Christian point-of-view to boundaries in all areas of a person's life: work, parents, spouse, children, friends, themselves and with God. I found a lot that I could really relate to in terms of the lack of boundaries I've experienced recently. I feel a renewed sense of respect for having boundaries and truly understanding why they are important.
The world will not end if I personally am not on every committee at school (not that I was, but sometimes it sure felt like it!). The world will not end if I say "no". People might not like it, but they will get over it. Probably the most profound notion I came across is that if someone else is angry with us or disappointed with us (or we with them), it is the person who feels the emotion's problem. They have to deal with it: resolve it, make peace with it and let it go. It isn't for the person who said no to worry about. I believe this is why so many people do struggle with boundaries: we feel guilty if we aren't helpful. But again, Dr. Cloud points out that this guilt is our boundary problem, not the person who is supposedly making us feel guilty.
I can definitely see how my experience in my classroom this year would have played out differently had my boundaries been in place and better defined. I would have been able to say no to some of the extra work that I was asked to do, I would have had more time to be in my classroom (which is the point of being a teacher -- to work with the children!) and I would have had more time to nurture the relationships between myself and my students as well as my students and each other.
I am beyond feeling bad or guilty about leaving that situation. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and this situation has pushed me to self-reflect, to seek out knowledge to prevent this from happening again and most importantly, to give me back a sense of the good teacher I know I can be. Reading this book put so much into perspective for me and I am grateful that I can walk away from it with a better sense of myself as I prepare to return to the classroom this fall.