I think I am going about this all wrong…

When I set up boundaries they are for me. Inspiring change in the alcoholic or addict, is not up to me or even possible. So I need to either get with the picture or move on? Am I getting this right?

Excepting an addict or alcoholic for who he is, feels a little like I am feeding or condoning the problem. Is it that I do not have to accept the behaviors, as long as I set up proper boundaries?  So I can choose to live with an alcoholic, love him but draw the line at some behaviors? This will actually work? People live happily after together with out the alcoholic ever getting help or changing?

Sorry, to some of you this may sound simple or obvious but I really am just trying to work this out in my own head. Seeing  your own child deal with addiction is painful, but the boundaries are much clearer. I think this has to do with the traditional mother/child relationship that already exists.

Setting up boundaries for a spouse feels condescending and I guess it makes me feel like his mother not his wife. Does this make any sense?


About madyson007

I am a mom of 4 who thought she was home free when my oldest son went off to college. My serious blunder? Genetics and being naive or maybe just plain stupid.
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8 Responses to I think I am going about this all wrong…

  1. Dawn McCoy says:

    Gosh. you sure hit the nail on the head LOL. I don’t get the whole boundaries thing either. I have a couple of friends who have alcoholic spouses. I don’t know how they do it. I guess, um…one, her husband is a bear after drinking. Instead of creeping around the house post drunk, her and her daughter just leave the house whenever possible and go do something fun. They refuse to deal with the behavior that comes post drinking. I think that is a boundary for them. Others make a boundary, no drinking in the home, or no coming home after drinking. The alcoholic has to find somewhere else to sleep it off. If he comes home, she calls the cops. I guess it comes down to what is acceptable in your family to you, and what you have trouble accepting. I would say that boundaries would be what makes you uncomfortable about the actions of that person, and make boundaries around those particular actions. Let the person know…”I know you will not quit drinking, and that is your decision. However, THIS , THIS and THIS upsets me and the kids, so we want you to either NOT do those things, or if you cannot help doing them, please leave the house until you are sober” or something to that effect?

    Sorry, i’m rambling a bit. Like you, I don’t really get the whole boundary issue. I think maybe Lou from Subdural Flow II could give you a much better answer LOL. Try emailing her.

    • Sydney says:

      The boundaries thing used to confuse me too. For the longest time I thought boundaries were meant to control/manage the qualifier’s problem. But really, they were about ME. What do I need to do to take care of myself? For me I had to put in place some pretty big ones.

      A. You can not live with me under any circumstance.
      B. I will not give you money, but I will purchase direct necessities if needed. (That one eventually got changed to, I will not give you money. Period.)
      C. If a conversation is becoming abusive, I will end it.

      I put them in place to protect myself. I used to say things like “OK, you can live with me, and I’ll buy you cigarettes and your hear medication if you promise not to drink or do drugs in the house” I’m sure anyone who’s been on this merry go round knows how that turned out.

      I spent all my time taking care of someone else, and monitoring someone else’s problem. I was supposed to be monitoring my OWN problems. So now, the conversation sounds more like this: “You know that I cannot allow you to live with me for my own sanity but I would to visit any time” “I can’t help you with groceries or cigarettes because it places a financial burden on myself and I need to provide for my own family”

      I’m probably rambling too… but I totally understand is all I’m trying to say. I’ve gone around in circles trying to figure out how to live in my situation as well. Good luck to you, and much love.


  2. Ron Grover says:

    Boundaries helped me immensely after I realized that boundaries and rules are completely differnet things.

    To make it simple think of baundaries beginning with “I”, rules begin with “You”. Along with the boundaries you then can begin to detach with love becasue the issues you are dealing with do not match your values.

    Think of a boundary like this. I do not choose to live in a home where illegal drugs are used. What does that mean? The decisions is yours, you have options. You can remove the drugs and person violating your boundary or you can move and allow the person using drugs to live there or you can enact any other solution that matches you values and meets teh boundary you have established.

    I wrote a post quite a while ago about boundaries and detaching here is a link: http://parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com/2011/02/detaching-with-love.html

    Here is a post on boundaries when I just began to grasp that there is a difference in boundaries and rules: http://parentsofanaddict.blogspot.com/2009/09/boundaries.html#comments

  3. Jackie says:

    I remember this story: an alcoholic drinks himself to sleep each night. Each night after he passes out, he rolls out of the bed and falls on the floor.
    His wife wakes up and thinks :”he’s going to get pneumonia sleeping on the floor.” So each night she pokes and prods and pushes him until she gets him awake enough to get off the floor and back into bed. By the time he is comfortably back in bed, she is wide awake, frustrated and angry.

    Each morning she tells him, “I can’t live like this any more. I’m always tired. If you love me and care about me, you will stop drinking, stop falling on the floor and stop making me worry that you will get pneumonia”.

    Of course, the alcoholic looks at her blankly. He falls asleep every night in bed and wakes up every morning in bed. What is her problem?

    In time, the wife learns to sleep through the nightly thump to the floor. Maybe she moves to the sofa. Maybe she moves to another house. Maybe the man starts waking up in the morning staring at the dust bunnies under the bed and wondering what is wrong with him. Maybe he doesn’t.

  4. Lou says:

    Put simply–boundaries are what you can live with.

    Obviously, one woman could live with certain alcoholic actions of her husband, and another cannot. Alanon teaches us we are not the same. Your boundaries don’t have to be your sisters, or your friends, etc.

    For instance, a mother may be resentful driving her addict kid to work every day because he lost his license. She says “walk, or hitchhike.” Another mother feels he is trying by working, and continues to drive him with no problem. Neither is “right” or “wrong”

    The flip side of this is, once you have clearly stated your boundary, you must enforce the action you said you would take. Or it’s useless. Again, an example–you tell your husband you will not be in the car with him when he drives drunk. The next time you are in that position, you call a cab.

    Believe it or not, when you do this consistently, often the behavior of the other person will change. Or not, as Jackie said.

    If you really want to know more, go to Alanon meetings. We know how to enforce our friggin’ boundaries…LOL

  5. Syd says:

    Yep, boundaries are for you. You have to decide what you are willing to tolerate. I am not willing to live with active alcoholic drinking again. I will leave if necessary. I will not be in a car with someone who has been drinking. I will walk or call a friend. These are just some of my boundaries. And I can change them at any time. Boundaries are how I take care of myself. I can’t change another but I can take care of me.

  6. Barbara says:

    Some wise words here. I have nothing to add, but understand that you are in a difficult situation and wish you luck. Everything is baby steps, you don’t have to do it all at once (imo)

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