I hesitate to write this, because... well, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but the thing is... that's kind of why I need to. I'm so damn scared of hurting people's feelings that I just keep on trying to take care of them in obnoxious ways that make me crazy. hmmmph.
The past few weeks, I've branched out. Spent more time with new friends. It's cool.
Here's the struggle I'm running in to:
I get to a point where I'm done, and I want to go home, but I can't figure out how to say that... So I stay. The biggest downside to that is then when someone invites me out again, I feel anxious and don't want to go. Lacking the ability to say what I want, makes me feel trapped... which makes me want to go spend time with the horses who demand nothing from me...
This problem is miniscule compared to the way I used to be, and... it's still the same problem I have always had. I feel like it's my job to take care of everyone else's feelings. I feel like in order to be nice and kind, I can't express what I want. I have to stay far longer than I want to, because the other people need me. (How arrogant can a person be? These are all fairly healthy, well-adjusted adults, and I think I have to take care of them?? Me!?! I'm cool, but really... THAT cool? no.) I'm afraid of what people will think and feel if I don't do what I think they want...
So, although staying at a friend's house longer than I wanted to stay isn't a real big deal, I want better. I want to enjoy the time I spend with friends. I want to go out and feel comfortable knowing that I can take care of myself. I will not put myself in situations where I am being drained or depleted... Which really, when I feel trapped, no matter how GOOD the experience could be, I feel depleted and tired afterward.
Here's my goal, and the way I will challenge myself.
For the next few times (or as many times as it takes) I hang out, I will decide on a time in advance that I will be done. If I want to change that later, because I'm having a really good time, I can do that, but really... I'm thinking it will be important to stick to it as closely as possible for a while. I will tell the people I am hanging out with when I will be done, and I think I will probably even tell them why, and ask for help:
"I'm working on setting and keeping really clear boundaries. The way I am doing that is deciding when I am going to be done hanging out in advance, and then sticking to it... Today, I want to be done at 9 pm, so that is when I am going to be leaving. Would you mind helping me with this goal?"
I don't actually need or expect their help, but by asking for it, I'll be able to help myself better... and even now, I feel anxious at the thought. Which probably means this is going to be really good for me.