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There are a few different things I struggle with personally when it comes to alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD). Besides the obvious physical part of it, one thing I constantly deal with is the area of relationships. I have learned a lot about how to navigate them while reading the book Good Boundaries and Goodbyes by Lysa TerKeurst.

I have discussed relationships in my columns before. One of the more difficult aspects of relationships is where I draw the line to allow or not allow unhealthy behavior. It’s nice to know everyone is going to be different, but I can use boundaries in my relationships to keep myself healthy, emotionally and physically.

What am I talking about? Boundaries are a word to describe a way of life that others are not allowed to cross.

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Essentially, they are what define what one person can handle. It doesn’t make them better or worse, it makes them different as far as what they can allow. For example, I cannot and do not allow smoking in my home.

A number of things would happen if I did permit that. Those things are: destruction to everyone’s health who lived there, encouragement to those who are smoking to continue, and me being denied infusions. So, I don’t smoke, and I don’t let others do that in my house.

The author, who has been a famous Christian author and teacher for years, discusses some things that keep us from drawing lines. Many people, regardless of their background, believe to love someone else, we must deny/allow their destructive behavior. While there is a time for patience, the problem lies in us allowing the person to do that wrong thing, over and over.

Since we cannot change a person, if that behavior is etched into them, they will continue doing it. It’s not that we need to correct every wrong; it’s when we let certain things go unchecked that bigger problems often start. This is especially true in marriage. I am learning a lot from her because the author highlights the problems that destroyed her marriage. I really value knowing how to behave in marriage.

Read more about symptoms of AATD

In the beginning of the book, the author talks a lot about reshaping her ideas of what is right vs what culture says is right. She goes through what validates bad behavior, for instance. Sometimes we can think that we are responsible for others crossing our boundaries but it’s the other way around. If they are aware of the boundary and consistently cross it, the problem is in their court.

Suppose I am going camping. If I tell a person I can’t sleep with a campfire going all night because of how smoke affects my lungs, the person needs to put out the fire long before bedtime. My responsibility is to stay as far away from smoke as possible. Their responsibility is to put the fire out at the right time. If they fail to do that, they are validating their own disrespect for me. Left unchecked, this starts a vicious cycle of hurt and regret.

It’s really quite important for someone with AATD to know their boundaries because many people simply do not understand. It’s also important to know who my friends are because not all of them are willing to have such respect.

The author also discusses how and when to say goodbye when a relationship is not able to be salvaged. This is a very sad time that hopefully does not happen often. In my experience, they have needed to happen gradually.

But, in some cases, leaving another person behind in life can mean the difference between life and death. Hopefully, we can establish boundaries so that this type of situation never provides the option.

Cutting off contact might need to happen because of a smoking addiction. It might happen because the other person refuses to be respectful. But we should acknowledge when we have played a part in the problem and refuse to take the blame for someone else.

Doing so can rob them of the chance to make it right again. We all want to have good relationships as they can add a lot of stability and they can create chaos.

An AATD patient must have good friends, otherwise, anxiety can take over. I am thankful for the people who regularly listen to and affirm me. I especially appreciate those who respect me.