Boundaries, Blame, Busy
The first time I read the word “boundaries” in Melody Beattie’s book, Codependent No More, I thought, “What the hell are boundaries?” The counselor I was seeing at that time recommended I read it so I did. Now, it’s pretty sad that I had no clue what “setting boundaries” meant but what’s even sadder is that it took me at least 10 years after reading the book to figure it out. Yep, I read the book, quit going to the counselor and went on with my not-so-happy life. You know the saying, “Nothing changes if nothing changes” and nothing changed. I hate when that happens!
It took life bringing me to my knees, literally, before I could even muster up the gumption to try and figure it out. When you have no boundaries, you are a doormat for anyone and everyone in your life. I was that doormat and the pain of being stepped on day in and day out was finally more than I could bear. You know, the recovery world has so many relevant saying!
“Change happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go.”
It took spending a week in a psychiatric facility for me to realize and understand how much pain I was in and that change had to happen. My fears were no longer relevant; change had to be my lifeline.
I worked with a sponsor on how to set boundaries and let me tell you, it was not easy. I would set the boundary but didn’t understand that I had to stand strong in the consequences when that boundary was crossed. I sucked at enforcing the consequences. Let me give you an example:
One of the boundaries I set with my ex was that if he was using, he could not come home. I could not be around him and the insanity he created when he was loaded. Sounds like a good boundary right? The problem was that when he wasn’t home, I was so worried that I would constantly call and text him to see if he was okay. He would eventually come home loaded out of his mind and I would let him in and dance the dance once again. Then I would set the boundary again but if he came home, I did nothing. After a year and a half of this insanity, I finally got the back-bone to enforce the consequence. “If you come here while you are loaded, I will call your parole officer and the police.” And I did.
Once I figured out that the world would not end, I was able to set better/healthier boundaries and stand strong when it came time to enforce the consequences. And once I was able to do this, people started respecting my boundaries. Amazing how that happens!
Now the “blame game” was just as bad. I felt my life was screwed up and out of control because of my ex and the chaos he created in our lives with his addiction. He was the problem, he was the addict, he was the one who broke everything (or made me do it), he was the one who made me into a person I didn’t want to be… on and on and on. Yep, I was certainly in denial but that’s for another post. My sponsor would make me face my part in the insanity of my life. What??? I had a part??? Yes, yes I did. I was driven by my emotions and fears. I reacted to everything. When he would yell at and belittle me, I would do the same thing right back. When he called me the vilest of names, I would throw something at him (I remember hitting him in the head with a full can of beer and I still feel satisfaction 🙂 ). I had to learn to control my unhealthy behaviors and reactions. I had to learn how I played a part in the insanity and how I allowed (by not having boundaries) this chaos in my life. Today, I take full responsibility for my life and can quickly assess what my part is (if any) in any problems I face.
So, how did I keep myself in the dark for so long about boundaries and blame? I stayed busy. I worked 12 hours a day and even on weekends when I could. I took on anything to help anyone so I wouldn’t have to deal with my life. I focused on their problems and helping fix their lives. I pushed my life aside and lived for everyone else. Keeping busy kept me from focusing and I liked it that way…until keeping busy was not enough anymore. Eventually, there came a time when I had to stop the insanity and the only way to do that was to stop and focus on myself. Again, “Change happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go.”
What are your B’s?