She Knows No Boundaries

Maintaining boundaries around a family in crisis is tricky business.

Maintaining boundaries around a family in crisis is tricky business.

I’m hooking up with the Five-Minute Friday crowd–five minutes of unedited writing on the prompt cooked up by Lisa Jo Baker and friends. This week, the prompt is ‘She’.


She left me speechless.

She was supposed to be like a relative, a safe person, someone who had promised to help us through the cancer journey. But it didn’t turn out that way.

She wanted to help by controlling. At a time when our lives consisted of constant turmoil, she added to the stress by thoughtless comments to our girls—trying to be chummy, perhaps, by asking them (aged eight and nine) if they had boyfriends at school and who they had a crush on.

I gritted my teeth and gently tried to explain that our daughters knew the importance of waiting until they were in college to have serious relationships—it was our family value.

She insisted on ‘helping out’ by doing my laundry when I stayed at the hospital with Pedro—even if it meant I had to ride trains for hours at a time to drop off my laundry and pick it up. I started sneaking my dirty clothes to a local laundry and dropping it off when I knew she wouldn’t be around.

It got worse. Some times, when I called Pedro, and she was in the room, she would answer the phone and tell me that I couldn’t talk to him right now—she always had a reason, she thought. He had to finish eating. He needed rest. But none of those reason had validity. His girls needed him. I needed him. She was NOT his mother.

She started opening his mail “because he didn’t have the dexterity to open it himself.” I felt invaded. Some of that mail came from ME!

She had good intentions, but somewhere along the way, they took over her sense of right and wrong and common decency.

It felt creepy.

A friend overheard her chatting with a neighbor at the local grocery story about how she had given up so much for Pedro to help cure his cancer. How he had become like a child to her.

She knew no boundaries. I didn’t want to offend, but her ‘help’ had me pulling my hair out and burdened me more each day.

She left me speechless.


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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • oh that sounds like such a difficult situation to be in!
    instead of helping it sounds like she overstepped and hurt instead.
    are things better now?
    praying that you’ll have a new sense of freedom and forgiveness and that God will give you a strategy to sort things out and to readjust boundaries.
    i love the post that follows on from this one – or previously rather – what gold you have gleamed from your experience – what wisdom you can pass on to others facing the same difficulties! what a gift you can offer!
    thanks for your honest sharing – blessings, claire (following you in the FMF lineup)

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you, Claire, for your comments and your prayers! It’s amazing how we often think we have forgiven and moved on, and then God shows us hidden little pockets of resentment that he wants to clean out of our lives! I have gotten better at setting boundaries and communicating with others–it’s still not my natural talent ;), but God certainly works on me!

  • I fear I would have had more words than I could control while spewing from my mouth for your “helper”. Bless your heart for your gracious speechlessness 🙂 Love what you chose to share for your FMF post. So genuine and vulnerable!

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thanks for stopping by, Tris! Balancing boundaries and Christian beliefs seems pretty hard at times, doesn’t it?!

  • Wow, Anita – my blood started boiling halfway through! Awesome take on the prompt this week.

    • Anita Ojeda

      :D. God keeps working in me, that’s for sure. I was amazed at how quickly that one leaped out of the keyboard without me even having to ponder the topic. I didn’t realize I still needed to vent on the negative ‘she’ in my life–but it’s made me realize I need to pray about the past and pray for my helper.

  • Pingback: Five-Minute Friday: Laundry (Confessions of a Love-Hate Affair) | Blessed (but Stressed)()

  • I actually remember this post because – oh my goodness! Boundaries are so important and when they are lacking like that, there can be so much damage! I am sorry that you had to deal with that – on top of everything else at that time!
    ~Karrilee~ recently posted…What We Learned… the March EditionMy Profile

    • Rats! Here I thought I had pulled a true relic out of the throwback Thursday closet ;). I learned a lot about people skills and learning to speak up when I should (but in a kind way).

  • Ahhhh! How nerve-wracking! I have people talk about boyfriends/girlfriends to my children who are 7 and under and it drives me crazy!!! I can also understand why the rest of the stuff would be even more irritating. I wish there was a part two were you talk about what happened. I hope it all worked out and you were able to give her the boot!
    Messy Mom recently posted…Let’s Talk About Water BirthMy Profile

    • That’s an idea–write a part two…thanks for the suggestion!

  • Oh dear…
    Susan Shipe recently posted…the crossMy Profile

  • It is so important to keep boundaries. She is leaving me speechless too.
    Sorry you had to deal with this person during that difficult time.
    Tara recently posted…Maundy, MaundyMy Profile

    • ;). We all have people like that in our lives–crisis just seems to bring out the worst in them!