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Counseling/Feeling Guilty for Setting Boundaries


I had a friend who was very persistent. She wanted to come over every weekend. When she did come over, she would always tell me how poor the family was.

She was warm and friendly, but very persistent and wanted to come over every weekend. She kept calling me. even when I didn't return her calls. It became annoying.

Finally, I wrote her a letter in which I:
- Stated I was busy and I would call her back when I was available   
- Stated I didn't want a friend who expected me to drive her on errands (she cannot drive)
- Asked her to refrain from calling me at work.

I hated to do this, but the only other solution was to block her number, and it would have been unfair to ignore her without telling her why.

I felt badly about having to to this because I probably hurt her feelings, but I am not responsible for her feelings and I will not let her control me. I have needs and feelings too.

Should I feel guilty about this? I don't think I did anything wrong.  

Am grateful for your feedback.

Hi Jill - it sounds like a part of you felt you didn't have the right to assert your needs (boundaries), another part felt you did have the right; and another part of you felt responsible for your "friend's" feelings. The underlying problem is that these several arts pulling on you have left you feeling torn and confused.

Start to dissolve your (unwarranted) guilt by;

learning about your personality subselves and psychological wounds:  //

Options for taming excessive guilts:

promoting harmony among all your well-intentioned subselves by patiently studying online "lesson 1"  //

Thus is a lot to absorb, so take your time. If you have questions about these ideas, please ask! - Pete


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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

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