Blogs


Notices

Oh the holidays...setting boundaries

Old 11-22-2010, 01:03 PM
  # 1 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 27
Oh the holidays...setting boundaries

Hi there,

My dad is an alcoholic and it's caused a problem in my family for a few years now. My mother left him earlier this year. He sees a therapist, a psychiatrist and his GP regularly. He's been on different meds for depression/anxiety. So far quitting drinking doesn't seem to be on the agenda.

We don't live close to each other so I haven't had a chance to sit down with him and talk about his drinking. I know I need to set some boundaries -- first to tell him not to call me when he's been drinking, that I'll hang up if this happens. I think that's the first step.

Beyond that he is coming here for Christmas in a few weeks. He is mainly a wine drinker but carries some JD in his suitcase for "emergencies" I guess. My question is, what boundaries can I reasonably set for him while he is staying with me?

Specifically:

1. I don't feel like it's realistic for me to say "you can't drink at my house." But am I enabling if I *don't* say that? The last few times he has stayed with me I've gone to bed early as soon as he gets the wine out.
2. Usually on the way home from the airport he asks me to stop at the store for wine. I don't feel like I can do this in good conscience -- should I tell him that ahead of time?
3. Should my husband and I drink when he is at our home or when we're out to dinner? We are both able to abstain from drinking but would probably like to have some wine with dinner. Is it fair to do this in front of someone who only sort of accepts that they have a problem?

In case you're wondering, there's no physical abuse, drunk driving or major safety issues at stake here. There is a lot of drunken rambling, occasional stumbling and general unpleasantness.

I guess I sort of feel like springing all this on him is like letting him walk into an ambush...but I know I need to look out for my own sanity.

Thanks in advance for any advice and sorry for the epic novel.
daughter333 is offline  
Old 11-22-2010, 01:20 PM
  # 2 (permalink)  
Community Greeter
 
Freedom1990's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Kansas
Posts: 10,182
Hi Daughter, and welcome to SR.

It sounds like maybe you have had some exposure to Alanon, perhaps?

Good for you on starting to set some boundaries. I have had to do that too with family members. I'm a recovering alcoholic/addict/codependent, and they have all chosen not to have any program of recovery for themselves.

As for the drinking in your home, I can only tell you that my home is alcohol/drug-free, no ifs, ands, or buts!

I made the mistake of letting my 32-year-old addict/alcoholic daughter stay with me for a month, and she crossed every boundary, including bringing drugs/alcohol into the home.

She is no longer welcome in my home. She's got to have a minimum of 2 years continuous recovery before I would even consider it.

She's not interested in making changes in her life, so that's just where we stand right now.

Only you can decide what is best for you as far as your father's visit.

Active alcoholism does not enter my home, and it's not a rule that can be bent or modified.

I hope you continue to post, and know that you are among friends.
Freedom1990 is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Freedom1990 For This Useful Post:
daughter333 (11-22-2010), LucyA (11-22-2010)
Old 11-22-2010, 01:21 PM
  # 3 (permalink)  
Member
 
LucyA's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Manchester UK
Posts: 1,017
The only part of your post I can respond to is the 'you can't drink at my house' part. I would feel perfectly happy saying that to anyone, but I wouldn't have double standards and drink at dinner myself if that was my boundary.

Your boundaries are for YOU, not him.
They should be about what you are comfortable with and what you will do if they are broken or pushed too far, not about what he can and can't do.

He can/will do what he likes, but if he pushes your boundaries too far what will you do about it?
LucyA is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to LucyA For This Useful Post:
daughter333 (11-22-2010), Freedom1990 (11-22-2010)
Old 11-22-2010, 01:24 PM
  # 4 (permalink)  
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2,047
I'm sorry you're having to deal with this...

Welcome.

Please remember one thing. Your boundaries are yours and you can set any you want. You don't have to explain or justify them to anybody, ever. Your house, your rules. However, boundaries without consequences executed upon are not boundaries-- they are empty threats. Do not, under any circumstances, set a boundary that you will not enforce. It will be a step backwards.

Having said that, and as soon as possible, get yourself to an Al-Anon meeting. Here you go:

Al-Anon/Alateen Colorado

Take care,

Cyranoak

P.s. We try not to give direct advice here as it is sort of inconsistant with how we want to live. That said, per your questions:

1. I don't feel like it's realistic for me to say "you can't drink at my house." But am I enabling if I *don't* say that? The last few times he has stayed with me I've gone to bed early as soon as he gets the wine out. Why isn't this realistic? Your house your rules. You're enabling when you do anything, through action or inaction, that helps him to drink.

2. Usually on the way home from the airport he asks me to stop at the store for wine. I don't feel like I can do this in good conscience -- should I tell him that ahead of time? Why not tell him ahead of time? What will happen if you do? What will happen if you don't? After answering these questions make your decision. You don't have to do what you don't want to do. You don't have to do anything to stop him from drinking as that's not your place either in my opinion, but you also don't have to help him.

3. Should my husband and I drink when he is at our home or when we're out to dinner? We are both able to abstain from drinking but would probably like to have some wine with dinner. Is it fair to do this in front of someone who only sort of accepts that they have a problem? This is a tougher one and there is a lot of debate around this issue. I'll just say there is no alcohol in my house and I don't drink in front of my wife. I resent this, but she's early in her sobriety and I choose not to make it an issue. Having said that, what will happen if you drink in front of him but don't let him have any wine? What will happen if you don't? There's your answer.
Good luck!

Originally Posted by daughter333 View Post
Hi there,

My dad is an alcoholic and it's caused a problem in my family for a few years now. My mother left him earlier this year. He sees a therapist, a psychiatrist and his GP regularly. He's been on different meds for depression/anxiety. So far quitting drinking doesn't seem to be on the agenda.

We don't live close to each other so I haven't had a chance to sit down with him and talk about his drinking. I know I need to set some boundaries -- first to tell him not to call me when he's been drinking, that I'll hang up if this happens. I think that's the first step.

Beyond that he is coming here for Christmas in a few weeks. He is mainly a wine drinker but carries some JD in his suitcase for "emergencies" I guess. My question is, what boundaries can I reasonably set for him while he is staying with me?

Specifically:

1. I don't feel like it's realistic for me to say "you can't drink at my house." But am I enabling if I *don't* say that? The last few times he has stayed with me I've gone to bed early as soon as he gets the wine out.
2. Usually on the way home from the airport he asks me to stop at the store for wine. I don't feel like I can do this in good conscience -- should I tell him that ahead of time?
3. Should my husband and I drink when he is at our home or when we're out to dinner? We are both able to abstain from drinking but would probably like to have some wine with dinner. Is it fair to do this in front of someone who only sort of accepts that they have a problem?

In case you're wondering, there's no physical abuse, drunk driving or major safety issues at stake here. There is a lot of drunken rambling, occasional stumbling and general unpleasantness.

I guess I sort of feel like springing all this on him is like letting him walk into an ambush...but I know I need to look out for my own sanity.

Thanks in advance for any advice and sorry for the epic novel.
Cyranoak is offline  
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Cyranoak For This Useful Post:
daughter333 (11-22-2010), fourmaggie (11-22-2010), Freedom1990 (11-22-2010)
Old 11-22-2010, 02:06 PM
  # 5 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 27
Thanks all, for your thoughts.

I know you're not supposed to give advice-- just wondering what other people have found works for them. I appreciate all the feedback.

I've done some reading, both AA/Al-Anon literature and some other things I found helpful. I have been to Al-Anon once and found it beneficial even just the one time. I may go back eventually...maybe I'll need to after this visit!

At this point the part that's hard for me is knowing what to say. As is typical with alcoholics my dad is pretty big into pointing fingers at everyone else's drinking habits so I'm trying to figure out whether having my husband and I not drink is playing into his addictions or whether it's just the right thing to do...kind of sounds like it's the latter?

Keep the replies coming!
daughter333 is offline  
Old 11-22-2010, 02:18 PM
  # 6 (permalink)  
Community Greeter
 
Freedom1990's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Kansas
Posts: 10,182
I don't know about you, but I was scared of my dad for a long time.

Standing up to him and setting my boundaries was extremely uncomfortable.

I found out he could get glad in the same pants he got mad in, or he could spend several days changing pants until he got glad!

For years I was the people-pleaser; God forbid if I wasn't busy trying to make someone happy! It's a miserable way to live.

It's not pretty when I butt heads with my dad, but I stand my ground.

I think attending Alanon now will help you to set and stick to boundaries, as well as help you heal from growing up with an alcoholic father.

Alcoholism affects everyone in its path.

I guarantee I was affected by my paternal grandparents' alcoholism while growing up, and they were both dead by the time I was born.

All the ick and bad feelings and dysfunction just kept getting passed down from generation to generation.

I was the first in my family to break the chain, and I'm so glad that I did.

You can do that too!
Freedom1990 is offline  
Old 11-22-2010, 02:30 PM
  # 7 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 27
Hi Freedom,

It will be uncomfortable for sure. I thought when my mom left that it would be his "rock bottom" but he continues to say (when drunk of course) he doesn't know why she left.

I used to be afraid of him...he wasn't showing major signs of alcoholism while I was still living at home. It's only been since I grew up and moved away. At this point he's more like a scared child who's hurting a lot but keeps cycling in the same negative patterns. I guess I'm not sure what to expect when I explain what these boundaries are going to be, but I know I have to try. Thanks for your support.
daughter333 is offline  
Old 11-22-2010, 03:29 PM
  # 8 (permalink)  
I AM CANADIAN
 
fourmaggie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Niagara Region, Canada
Posts: 2,578
Blog Entries: 45
posted by Freedom It's not pretty when I butt heads with my dad, but I stand my ground.



my dad is not a alcoholic, but has the traits of the disease...I am so with you on this one FREEDOM...i started doing this in APRIL...and I do very much STAND MY GROUND...i think now, he respects me more now...and I am a full grown woman and his daughter...
fourmaggie is offline  
Old 11-22-2010, 03:51 PM
  # 9 (permalink)  
Member
 
coffeedrinker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: minneapolis, mn
Posts: 2,762
Hello, Daughter, and a big WELCOME to Sober Recovery.

You seem to have a good grip on this addiction stuff, and setting boundaries are the way you love yourself.

While reading your original post, what I was wondering, was why is your father coming?
It sounds like you will be sort of miserable. At such a joy-filled time of year, that makes me sad for you.

The thing about you and your husband abstaining or not, I guess I think it makes no difference. Nothing you guys do will really affect him and his drinking decisions. Unless you did as some have said they do: no drugs or alcohol is permitted in my home. But really, what good would that do? I personally would have a heck of a time just being quiet and allowing an actively participating alcoholic not only IN my home, but especially not staying there. It almost makes my skin crawl.

Best to you and your decisions. Please continue to use Sober Recovery as a resource for yourself.
coffeedrinker is offline  
Old 11-22-2010, 04:58 PM
  # 10 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 27
Hi coffeedrinker,

I think you've hit the nail on the head -- if I say there's no alcohol permitted in my home, that's a lie and we'll all know it. We usually have some beers in the fridge and a half-bottle of wine at home. My husband and I don't drink daily and I'm mostly comfortable (though I have moments of paranoia because of our family histories) with my husband's and my drinking habits.

Accepting that my dad is an alcoholic is a fairly new thing for me. It sounds stupid because I imagine that I'm a pretty self-aware person...but I let myself believe for a couple of years that he could "cut back" or get it under control. I don't see him often and some of the days I do see him he is fine. Other times, you're right, it makes my skin crawl.

I would be lying if I said I wanted him to come here for the holidays. I said yes because I felt guilty and it was an automatic response -- of course you can come to our house, Dad. Last Christmas when I arrived home he promptly stumbled into a box of Christmas ornaments and shattered them. A couple of days later I figured out that my mom was having an affair to "cope" with my dad's alcoholism. He doesn't know about that, but he's been off and on very depressed about her leaving. Once, he mentioned suicide but has since seemed a little less depressive.

At this point I think the best I can do is this:
1. Please don't call me when you've been drinking *at all.* As soon as I can tell you've been drinking I will get off the phone.
2. I will not take you to the liquor store after I pick you up from the airport.

I'm going to feel like a hypocrite if I say either of these things:
-- Alcohol is not allowed in my home (false)
-- We will drink in front of you but you can't drink (just seems cruel)

There is some line I need to draw here but I don't know what it is.
daughter333 is offline  
Old 11-22-2010, 05:07 PM
  # 11 (permalink)  
Community Greeter
 
Freedom1990's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Kansas
Posts: 10,182
Originally Posted by daughter333 View Post
At this point I think the best I can do is this:
1. Please don't call me when you've been drinking *at all.* As soon as I can tell you've been drinking I will get off the phone.
2. I will not take you to the liquor store after I pick you up from the airport.

I'm going to feel like a hypocrite if I say either of these things:
-- Alcohol is not allowed in my home (false)
-- We will drink in front of you but you can't drink (just seems cruel)

There is some line I need to draw here but I don't know what it is.
I don't know what it is either, because if he's allowed to drink in your home, he's certainly not going to drink like a responsible social drinker.

I hate making decisions based on guilt. That just seems to bring me a whole new set of problems than if I had said no.

I am usually pretty good about it, but guess what I did today? I made a decision based on guilt.

Guess who pays the consequences? Me.

So I'm going to put my big girl panties on, maybe even starch them a tad, and deal with it!
Freedom1990 is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Freedom1990 For This Useful Post:
fourmaggie (11-23-2010), wicked (11-22-2010)
Old 11-22-2010, 05:11 PM
  # 12 (permalink)  
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 27
Honestly, he might *behave* like a responsible social drinker. He's not one, but sometimes he can get it together enough to act like one. I think that's why this is difficult. Maybe I am trying too hard to solve a problem before it is one... but I feel like I have to give him fair warning on what my rules are if that makes sense.
daughter333 is offline  
Old 11-22-2010, 05:30 PM
  # 13 (permalink)  
Community Greeter
 
Freedom1990's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Kansas
Posts: 10,182
Makes perfect sense to me.

Do you feel like there is still a rule missing?

As far as the visit, you've established that rule #1 is you will not take him to the liquor store after picking him up at the airport.

Since you have been gone from home for a few years now, I would imagine you're at a bit of a loss as to what it might be like once he starts drinking in your home, yes?
Freedom1990 is offline  

Currently Active Users Viewing this Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off




All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:33 PM.