Friday, December 19, 2014

What are Personal Bill of Rights?

Personal Bill of Rights 

You may have occasionally heard the term "Bill of Rights". Personal Bill of Rights are statements that we declare to ourselves to help empower us, encourage us, and stand up for ourselves. A few examples are:

- I have a right to safety in my home. 
- I have a right to say yes or no to sex, no matter what. Period.
- I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behavior, actions, feelings or problems.
- I have a right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
- I have a right to expect honesty from others.
- I have a right to all of my feelings.
- I have a right to be angry at someone I love, and love someone I’m angry at.
- I have a right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, violates my values, or I don’t feel like doing it.
- I have the right to feel and learn to tolerate feelings of fear, guilt, and shame without necessarily believing them.
- I have a right to make decisions based on my feelings, my judgment or any reason that I choose.
- I have a right to change my mind at any time.
- I have a right to grieve over losses.
- I have the right to trust others who earn my trust.
- I have a right to be suspicious of those who say “trust me” without earning it.
- I have a right to be in a non-abusive environment.
- I have a right to be healthier than those around me.
- I have a right to take care of myself, no matter what
- I have a right to dignity and respect.
- I have a right to make decisions.
- I have a right to determine and honor my own priorities.
- I have the right to terminate conversations with people with whom I feel put down or humiliated, manipulated or controlled, or simply uncomfortable.
- I have a right to be uniquely me and to feel I’m good enough.
- I have a right to feel scared and to say “I’m afraid.”
- I have a right to be happy.
- I have a right to stability—i.e. “roots” and stable healthy relationships of my choice.
- I have the right to my own personal space and time.
- I have the right to smile or cry without having to cover one with the other to protect someone’s feelings or look good.
- I have a right to learn better communication skills so that I may be understood

I believe Bill of rights are for ourselves, and are not necessarily statements to say TO our husbands along with the letter of Boundaries we give them (More on Boundaries HERE). Although that doesn't mean its wrong if someone does, I just believe the more clear, direct, loving, and vulnerable our Boundaries are, the more successful they will be understood and respected by our broken brain husband's. Bill of Rights are not technically Boundaries themselves and should not be used as statements to prove, demand, or control anyone.
Personal Boundaries Protect our Personal Rights. 
Stating to ourselves "I have a right to honesty from others" gives us a reminder of what we deserve in our lives,  and can be very beneficial in reaffirming confidence and helping validate your own needs and opinions. But stating to your husband "I have a right to honesty from you" is just an plain ol' FYI statement. It's not stating a plan of action, it's not enforcing anything, it's not ASKING our husbands to be honest, it's not telling them we NEED honesty or why, and it's not informing them of the actions we will be taking if they lie. I believe Bill of Rights are more for ourselves to write down and know.

When I first started out on this journey, my Boundaries were void of emotion "If you do this, I will do this", and I incorporated my Bill or Rights in WITH my Boundaries. I thought it would help my husband get the clear message that he can't lie because I have a RIGHT to honesty. When I first gave him my looong 3 pages of Boundaries/BoR, he had a hard time seeing past the informal "iron fist approach". It overwhelmed him and he became flooded x1000, and insanely confused. He didn't get what the Bill of Rights were asking him to do. It over-complicated everything and took away the focus from what the real goal was----my Boundaries. Not that I really cared so much at the time if my husband was overwhelmed, I would have never changed my boundaries for him because my Boundaries weren't just for him, but it WAS in my best interest for my husband to clearly UNDERSTAND my Boundaries. Plus the chances of him remembering and understanding everything on all 3 pages was very slim (broken brain). Heck I'm not sure I could have either.

I later brought my "oh so perfect" Boundaries/Bill of Rights to my therapist, (ha it was literally like a legal document, I like legal documents, zero emotion and to the point.) she explained to me that stating my Bill of Rights is over explaining myself and was overkill. I was basically complicating everything by saying the same thing twice, except one was a boundary and one wasn't. Even SHE was a bit confused. She then asked me some great questions to help me understand something:
Therapist:  why do you need honesty?
Me: umm? (Stupid question?..) because I don't want to feel crazy anymore
Therapist: Ha yes, but why do you NEED honesty in order to stay in this marriage.
Me: Cuz I can't stay in a marriage I don't feel safe in.
Therapist: EXACTLY! That's what your boundaries need to convey. Tell your husband , a man u love, WHY you need honesty, and what you are willing to do if there is no honesty.
Me: **lightbulb ON!!** ;)


  1. This is yet another perfectly timed post ! I have been pondering a comment my sponsor said to me recently while lamenting and trying to make a difficult decision . She asked whats your bottom line and you can make this decision then OWN IT . It has really stuck with me as I interact with HIM . How often I failed to own my choices and this attitude was sensed in HIM and he used it to more easily manipulate . Self doubt plagues ME for sure ! The desire to please is so strong in most women anyway , I think an addict can smell this and manipulating it for self becomes a built in behavior they don't always even realize it is how they think . All that to explain this may be why I have had an incredibly hard time establishing my bottom lines . Actually if I state them as simple as a FIRM no to a situation it so unsettles him ( such strange behavior for my previously easily dominated wife ! ) that he gets obviously angry . Now I have a concrete situation to bring to counseling - otherwise it becomes like complaining of a smell no one else can smell but me . Becoming firm in my bottom lines has been a long and hard road for me , confusing also because some counselors even use my vulnerabilities to say "" thats not healthy , thats controlling .....but my key question in every situation or conversation or thought is "" would I do this for him ( or anyone in my place ) , am I willing to be this for him ? Do I have a double standard here ? "" Sometimes I do need help from others to sort it out - actually most of the time . I really try not to expect things he cannot expect from me , or I am very willing to do if he cared.
    You do still see your boundaries as a good way to CLEARLY communicate what you are or were Ok with , what you needed for peace and safety though don't you ? I think an addict may be feeling frustrated or confused by this new set of ""rules "" to the relationship, but they feel frustrated a lot of the time anyway - the heart of how they existed has been wrenched from them . It seems they need a clear guildline of this vital relationship / attachment to go forward ....anyway , I am selfish and am at where you may have been when you created your boundaries - but now you are in a different place and so is he maybe - I am helped by the boundaries to continue to be firm in my bottom lines . Boundaries , Bill of rights ,bottom lines , owning it , it all makes me still SAD that this man I married I have to put up all these hedges to PROTECT myself from the very person God meant to protect me , look out for my best , lead me in paths of right living I have to demand to be treated the way he treated outsiders: considerately , kindly , with sensitivity , interested does one possibly convey all our bill of rights ? Our forefathers worked out their wording for a LONG time - guess I can see why.
    Thank you for posting this right now , it was perfect timing . Perfect !

  2. Ok I re-read your post and I think I get it now - your Bill of Rights is sort of background information to your Boundaries , to help him grasp the why of your relationship needs ? Am I getting this ?

    1. We have Boundaries to protect our Bill of Rights, and we clearly state our Boundaries to others if necessary.
      But I believe Bill of Rights are valuable to only state to ourselves, not stated to our husbands. But I definitely think its crucial to give our Boundaries to our husbands, just not along with our Bill of Rights. Does that make sense?

      Here's my post on Boundaries:

      Your husband most definitely will react to your Boundaries, but I see this as a good thing because it means u know its working.

      I will never stop having Boundaries until the day I die. They are straight from God, looove them. The stronger I get in my own life, the stronger my Boundaries

      Im sorry it sucks and hurts :( You are doing great friend!

  3. LOVE THIS!!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!