Saturday, May 9, 2009

"I Didn't Like It When You..." - Setting Boundaries.

My ideas regarding just what this involves, have changed considerably, over the time I've been working 12-step. I started out seeing it as something I needed to do, in order to stop other people from taking advantage of me. I've slowly come to believe that I need to do it for that reason, yes, but I also need to be on top of this, in order to avoid my own bad habits of getting myself into emotional confusions.

As a co-dependent, my own triggers have caused me endless misery, and I would struggle and suffer and fume and fret, all the while thinking this was the fault of the other person. 12-step teaches me that I'm responsible for my own mental and emotional health, and if I don't want to get wet, I need to come in out of the rain. Standing outside in a bucketing downpour and railing at the clouds for soaking me, is a senseless waste of my time.

I've done the emotional equivalent a few too many times in my life. My desire to fix/help/solve/find a solution has caused me grief I needn't have felt, had I only been aware of the pre-storm smell of ozone. When I see the clouds slowly gathering and darkening, that is the time to set a boundary, excuse myself politely, and find shelter.

As a result of Al-Anon, I'm more likely to realise, at an earlier stage of a friendship, that this isn't healthy for me. I'm going through this right now, and I'm trying to stay open to it, instead of doing what I've chosen to do so many times in the past: deny the reality, make allowances for unacceptable behavior, because I'm uncomfortable, and my discomfort is such that I'd rather pretend it isn't happening, because if I admit it is, I have to take some kind of action.

I'm trying to accept reality, admit my feelings - some sadnesss, that this person whose company I enjoy, has problems/behaviors/beliefs to which I am unwilling to subject myself to regular exposure, because doing so triggers my own bad habits and thinking. It's like alcoholics not hanging out with friends who drink - it's not healthy, and it can undercut my serenity.

I need to set a boundary for myself, not the other person. I cannot change anyone but myself. I'm endeavoring to learn this lesson earlier in the process, so that I don't have to suffer so much when the inevitable happens, and my recovery demands detachment. I'm trying to be aware more of the time, because denial never, ever, works, on a long-term basis.


  1. I've recently changed the boundaries for myself regarding a friendship where I feel in danger of accepting unacceptable behaviors for many of the reasons you've expressed. Thank you so much for your very clear and articulate sharing.

  2. We were just talking about this at work today. Setting boundries with people isn't as easy as it sounds sometimes.jeNN