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Help needed with setting limits/rules for my sister moving in

Old 10-14-2010, 11:25 AM
  # 21 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Zappy View Post
Does anyone have suggestions that I should require of her other that what I originally mentioned?
Well, considering you know what you're getting into, I think that you should decide right here and now when it is you're going to ask her to leave, and how you'll enforce that boundary, because it seems that you may very well have to make that decision and follow through. Better to be prepared mentally. Furthermore, seeing as you intend on having your sister in your home despite what you already know about addiction and the very real possibility of relapse, I would make certain that your sister is aware, in no uncertain terms, that if she crosses your line, she's out of luck and out on the streets.

She may pull the "How can you do this to me and my children" b.s., but I suggest you arm yourself against that with "YOU did this to yourself. Now get out".

As for your mother, as much as you love her, you cannot protect her from your sister's actions by absorbing the chaos that will ensue after she moves in with you. That, along with your sister's potential recovery, is simply not within your power.
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Old 10-14-2010, 11:41 AM
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From one therapist to another. Our chosen field of service to others sets us up to become great codependents or enablers to our love ones. Look over the following list of characteristics of codependents and I'll bet you will find some that covers the reasons you, also, became a therapist.

Denial Patterns:

I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
I minimize, alter, or deny how I truly feel.
I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well being of others.

Low Self Esteem Patterns:

I have difficulty making decisions.
I judge everything I think, say, or do harshly, as never "good enough."
I am embarrassed to receive recognition and praise or gifts.
I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires.
I value other's approval of my thinking, feelings, and behaviors over my own.
I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.

Compliance Patterns:

I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others' anger.
I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same.
I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
I value others' opinions and feelings more than my own and am often afraid to express differing opinions and feelings of my own.
I put aside my own interests and hobbies in order to do what others want.
I accept sex when I want love.

Control Patterns:

I believe most other people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
I attempt to convince others of what they "should" think and how they "truly" feel.
I become resentful when others will not let me help them.
I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked.
I lavish gifts and favors on those I care about.
I use sex to gain approval and acceptance.
I have to be "needed" in order to have a relationship with others.

Characteristics of Codependent People

We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. This in turn enabled us not to look too closely at our faults.
We "stuff" our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts too much.
We are isolated from and afraid of people and authority figures.
We have become approval seekers and have lost our identity in the process.
We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
We live from the viewpoint of victims and are attacked by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
We judge ourselves harshly and have a low sense of self esteem.
We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment. We will do anything to hold onto a relationship in order to not experience painful abandonment feelings which we received from living with people who were never there emotionally for us.
We experience guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
We confuse love and pity and tend to "love" people we can pity and rescue.
We have either become chemically dependent, married one or both, or found another compulsive personality, such as a workaholic to fulfill our own compulsive needs.
We have become addicted to excitement.
We are reactors in life rather than actors.

originally written by mental-health-matters

Take what you like and freely leave the rest!
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Old 10-14-2010, 11:44 AM
  # 23 (permalink)  
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Zappy,
The absolute best thing you can do for yourself and your family right now is go to an Al-Anon meeting.

There are on-line meetings as well. Get a copy of Courage to Change, it's a book of daily meditations that have helped me tremendously to start my day with a healthy, realistic focus.

I really feel for you as you seem to believe that so much rests on your shoulders. And I know it feels that way, but please take care of yourself. It's the only thing you do have control over.
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Old 10-14-2010, 11:46 AM
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I think a main difference here is that we have lived with addiction and the OP has not.

Zappy,
We have a saying around here:
Say what you mean,
Mean what you say,
Just don't say it meanly.

I think that is so important!
If things go south with your sister, please don't wait until it detiorates to the point of animosity. If you can stay firm from the get-go you may be able to avoid bad scenes and family uproar.
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Old 10-14-2010, 11:49 AM
  # 25 (permalink)  
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Instead of requiring specific behavior from her, try requiring some specific behavior from yourself based on the type of environment you want in your house. Those are "PERSONAL BOUNDARIES". Then require specific behavior from yourself if those boundaries are violated. Those are called "CONSEQUENCES."

You can post your personal boundaries on the fridge along with the consequences so that everyone is on the same page.

My examples:

I do not allow drugs and alcohol in my home. If I find alcohol in my home, I will pour it out and ask the person that brought it into my home to leave. Immediately. If they do not leave, I will call the police.

I do not allow people under the influence of drugs or alcohol in my house. If I even SUSPECT drug or alcohol use, I will ask that person to leave. If they do not leave willingly, I will call the police.

I expect that every adult that lives in my house will contribute to the upkeep of the house. These are the chores that I recommend: xxxx. If an adult is not contributing to the upkeep, they will not be allowed to live here.

I expect adults to contribute financially to the household. The rent to stay here is xxxxx.

I am not a therapist or a counselor for recovering drug addicts or alcholics. I expect them to seek professional support and work their own recoveries through an approved program like AA. If they are not working recovery, i cannot be a part of their life.

I do not allow adults to watch MTV in my house, in front of my children. It is a violation of my personal values. If I see it on, I will turn it off immediately. If it comes on again, I will ask them to leave my house.

I do not run a flop house for recovering addicts or alcoholics. I do not allow adults to lay around on my couch all day. I expect them to clean and contribute to the household.

I expect people to use clean language in my house and around my children. People who swear around my children are not allowed in my house.

I value treating others with respect. And I expect to be treated with respect in my home. If someone is disrespectful to me, they will be expected to leave my house.

If these boundaries are violated, I reserve the right to ask the violater to leave. Immediately. Without question.

I expect people to follow through on their commitments to me. If they do not, I will not be a part of their lives.

I reserve the right to change my boundaries at any time.
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Old 10-14-2010, 11:58 AM
  # 26 (permalink)  
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Ugh. that all sounds so overwhelming.

I have lived with addiction and from my experience, your sister will agree whole heartedly with all your requirements and quietly and one by one disregard each and every one. Not all at one time, and not with fanfare, but just go on about her life without regard to your requirements. For me, this made it very very hard to say 'OK, now, now the line has been crossed. This I will not except.' It was just one step away from the last small step and before I knew it I was a miles away from what I had originally thought was acceptable in my life. I felt terribly desperate and confused. I'm not trying to be condesending but you already sound a little desperate. You are already doing things that you don't really believe are in anyone's best interest. Not hers, not yours, not the children involved, yet you feel like you must do them. This will make upholding your boundaries very difficult. You might consider identifying a move out date ahead of time and make sure she knows about it ahead of time so there are no surprises and hold firm. That would be a very concrete boundary that you can hold to without any shades of gray.

Al-anon was also a great suggestion.
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Old 10-14-2010, 12:02 PM
  # 27 (permalink)  
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Yes, defining "temporary stay" in advance mutually.
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