RELATIONSHIP AND BOUNDARIES

A mom said to Dr. MacAfee: I’m trying to remember who we were before addiction hit our doors, flooded our house and left us homeless. 

Dr. MacAfee’s response: Once the young person is off and running with drugs, things become much more difficult. Relationship is essential in dealing with addiction, but the question is what does a healthy relationship look like. Honesty is critical. Parents must say what they mean and mean what they say – boundaries must be clear so that loved one knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what is acceptable and what isn’t. Screaming isn’t the answer, whereas putting all the cards on the table in a direct and honest way is. As one mother recently told her son, “If you felt good about what you were doing, you wouldn’t be sneaking around.”

Today’s Promise to consider: Relationship and boundaries are critical when dealing with addiction, as with many problems. Today I will communicate with rigorous honesty. I’ll put my cards on the table and be clear about my boundaries. We all have decisions to make and I can’t decide for anyone else, but I will decide for myself. I’ll stay close and out of the chaos.

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Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

Yesterday was my son’s birthday. All day long, what kept coming to mind, was his birth. He was premature at only 7 months and I labored for 46 hours. The hospital staff tried everything to stop the labor, but my son wasn’t having any of it! When he was finally born, he was just 4 pounds. A tiny human being stuggling for his life. From day one, his life was a struggle. He struggled with hyperactivity, behaviour problems and learning disabilities, but he was highly intelligent.

If I had set better boundaries, not let emotions drive me, perhaps things would have turned out differently. I’ll never know, but I will not beat myself up, over it, anymore.

I loved my son so much and I know he loved me. He would have been 45 years old. I will celebrate his birthday every year by remembering all the great times we had together while he was alive and well.

I agree that relationship and boundaries are critical when dealing with many (or all) problems.

Thank you, Libby for reminding all of us about boundaries. Setting boundaries are imperative for living and healing.

With love to all and God’s blessings,
Barbara

Pat Nichols
10 years ago

Boundaries are number two on my list of priorities. The first being grieving the child of my dreams and knowing that he is not coming back. I learned that being aware of the reality of this disgusting disease allowed me to implement appropriate boundaries, stand by them and feel good about myself. It freed me to live a life that God designed for me and not the life the disease of addiction had in mind.

I should clarify that my son is loved but he is much different now. The disease has changed him. Our relationship is strong but I now accept him for who he is now and have released my expectations of who I expected him to be.

Peace and love to you Barbara and all the parents who have lost their child to this brutal disease.

In prayer for all of us and our children.

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

Dear Pat,

I find it so interesting that grieving the child of your dreams is a priority. But, I think I understand it. I understand the feeling you have, of your son, not coming back, because I have felt that feeling. I always had hope for my son, but in the back of my mind, I knew he would eventually succumb to the addiction.

I know how difficult it is to stay positive about your son. Sometimes, God can work miracles here on earth. Let’s pray he sends one down for you, your wife, and your son.

Hope
Hope
10 years ago

Barbara, I cried when I read your post, all the emotions you must be feeling on his birthday, your courage and the love you give to all of us offering your wisdom. My son was a preemie too. And I really understood Pat’s acceptance of the grief over the loss of son to the disease of addiction and her acceptance of the changes because of it. But I so agree with Barbara– miracles can happen — and it is so important to keep hopeful for our loved ones, even if it is almost impossible to keep imagine-ing them healthy. Who knows how those heart filled prayers might help. Never give up Hope.

Libby and Jeremy and Jeff reminded so much of this.

This summer we set a boundary and said we could not continue to provide a home for him as he recovered. and relapsed. Recovered and relapsed. That felt heartless and tough but watching this was a sinkhole of energy for me –and my husband –watching the struggle under our roof. But we did for weeks and are glad we did, but knew it was time to say : go. This hard line was NOT tough love — that term is not something I like at all- it was just the next thing we had to do for ourselves. Al-anon helped us make that decision and be okay with that. At first he was angry, then depressed, the one day , made a decision. I watched these last weeks as he said things he has never said before — enrolled in community college, met with counsellors, tried to figure out financing , moved to another city where he knows no one, –away from his old crowd, and 45 minutes from us. He has been off hard drugs for weeks — he is till admitting and openly smoking pot. He is playing basketball, Last night on the way home from the airport, we passed though his city. Should we call or not? We did. He was so happy to hear from us. We went out for supper with a sober wonderful son. He says it is hard, it is lonely, he is anxious, he fears “failure”. BUt he is in high school at 31 in an adult learning program and he has HOPE. He thinnks for the firs time it is possible he can succeed and will graduate So do we.

We are not naive. We all live one day at a time. But we have never been at this place before.

We are grateful for God’s grace right now.

The darkness of addiction can be a soul swallower and hope destroyer.

Keep on keeping on. Hope hope hope and life -no matter what happens in the life of our children with disease of addiction –our life will never seem hopeless.

Prayers to all.

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

Dear Hope,

Thank you for all your kinds words. I was so filled with emotion when I read your posting. I am elated for you and your husband. What a great step your son has taken. I don’t even know him, but I actually feel so proud of him right now.

Keep your spirits up and practice positive thinking. Sobriety can be achieved no matter how long an addict has been in the dark.

I read the following statement in a book I am reading. I don’t know the person’s name or author who wrote it, but it really hit home with me. I’d like to share it with you. Here it is:

We tell ourselves stories in order to live………

We look for the sermon in the suicide, we look for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five.

We interpret what we see and select the most workable of the multiple choices.

Your son chose to go back to school to get his diploma. He chose not to do hard drugs. He had multiple choices and he chose the ones that are workable. How wonderful is that!

Thank you so much Hope, for being open and honest with us. I appreciate hearing from you every week.

I pray that your son continues to stay off the hard drugs. I pray that you and your husband will find the strength to continue providing the loving support you give your son as he travels down the road to recovery. I wish you peace and love.

God Bless,

Barbara

Hope
Hope
10 years ago

Thank you Barbara. Thank you. Oh, those are powerful words. Hard, too. The sermon in the suicide, selecting the most “workable” —–yes, it is our survival. We do tell ourselves stories in order to live. Sharing their story like Libby has-so courageously — with Jeremy and Jeff’s blessing —-was like finding a life raft for me. I hope, in my own way, to keep sharing with others. Today my son phoned and said he can apply for a scholarship because of his learning disability ( I prefer differences) and being out of school so long. He has to write a short story of his journey. Go for it, I said. I can hardly wait to read it. He laughed and said oh you might not want to. To think we can even make a joke. This will be a great healing for him.

Just to have him phone to share news. Other parents might take this kind of thing for granted -but we do not. It is huge . God help us all wherever we are, help us face whatever comes. Help us live one day at a time, one hour at a time. Help me support and love and stay close with no co-dependency, just healthy interdependency– and NO expectations- I pray to my higher power to remove the fear from my heart from years of disappointments, fear will not help me in any way even if he were to relapse. I know he is trying mightily. I know he is finding support and new people in a sober life. So onwards— endless hope for health and sanity for us all. I hope sharing here has helped some one else.

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear all,

These message above give me hope and I feel deep gratitude for all of you, for your trust and for reaching out a hand to help someone else.

Babara, As Hope wrote, I, too, felt immense connection and love for you as you told us about your son’s birthday. Your love for him is palpable, and I can’t imagine your pain. In all of this, you are correct that boundaries are important for us, too.

Hope, your son is making progress and he’s living a sober life. Jeff says that even one day is a HUGE accomplishment. Then, one week, maybe 10 days, as success is measured by ‘not using today.’ You set a boundary for him and you are continuing to stay close, but out of the chaos. As MacAfee says, “Failure is not trying again.”

Addiction destroys life. We are here, joined together, reaching out a hand to help another. Through our stories, maybe someone’s else life will be better.

With love and respect,

L

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

Dear Libby,

I forgot to tell you, I just LOVE the picture of Italy from this week’s meditation! I wish I was there!

Love to you!

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Thanks, Barbara! If you ever come to Italy, you have a friend there :).