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More help on boundary setting

Old 01-11-2011, 12:07 PM
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More help on boundary setting

I posted a while back that I set some boundaries with my dad:
- He should not call me when he's been drinking and if he does, I will end the conversation.
- I will not take him to a liquor store when he visited me for Christmas.

So far he's respected both. Except, oops, the other day I called him and it was clear, immediately, that he had been drinking. Slurring, telling me he's just spilled his glass of "...juice." But, like an idiot, I give him the benefit of the doubt and say "Remember how I said that I don't want to talk when you're drinking? Maybe we should talk another time." I didn't stick fast to my boundary until the conversation escalated. Then I ended the conversation.

He called the next day to leave me a voicemail apologizing for not sticking to our agreement. Which is actually awesome and makes me proud that, at least on the second try, I stuck to my guns.

Now I want to take this a step further and ask that we only talk once a week. Right now he's calling me every couple of days and repeating the same things over and over (his memory is pretty shot) even when he is not drinking. Frankly, he ruins my day when I talk to him because the conversation is mostly about how lonely he is. We don't have much to talk about and I feel like putting parameters on it would keep him from getting too emotionally dependent on me. Am I just on a power trip or am I just running from having to deal with him? I don't want to do either one, but I do want to make a conscious decision that helps me deal.
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:29 PM
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Take him out of this equation for a minute and ask yourself "What is best for me?".

Seems to me that wanting some serenity in your life is a goal here, and any contact with him, at this point, is ruining that serenity. Talking once a week *may* help, but to be quite honest, I don't know what you're getting out of any contact with him at the moment.

And yeah, I think you're doing real awesome by sticking to your boundary. It's totally ok to have "gotten it" by the second try; heck these aren't SAT exams...it's a personal boundary.
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:34 PM
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Part of my struggle with this is my thought process around my dad's issues:

He can't deal with life, difficult relationships, etc. In order to avoid dealing with things, he drinks. He has also told me that he can't bear me or my siblings speaking to him harshly or judgmentally.

I don't want to be like him. I want to deal with my life, not run from it. My dad is part of my life. He's supported me in various ways, and I would not feel okay turning my back on him completely. That doesn't mean I'm going to allow myself to be run into the ground by his issues.

Is this totally circular thinking?
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:00 PM
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Well, in a way, but your thinking is supported by his manipulation. He tells you that he "can't stand having people talk harshly to him" and yet he continues to make choices that tread all over people's boundaries. Also, what he can and cannot deal with isn't your responsibility. He's a grown man, and if he doesn't want to be spoken to in a specific way, he'll either walk away or do what it takes to build a relationship that doesn't yield that kind of talk.

I noticed my XAH also had this VAST inability to deal with stress of any kind. He complained about it constantly, and medicated himself with whatever was on hand, whether alcohol, sleeping pills, cocaine, videogames and movies, ANYTHING to distract himself from the normal stresses of life. The lack of coping mechanisms seems common among addicts and alcoholics.

In any case, reducing contact with your A doesn't make you like him. You would be choosing your serenity over anything else...and let's be honest, if you don't look out for yourself, who will?

There's nothing that says that you have to cut him out completely or permanently. You can do as you propose and reduce contact to a once weekly event, and see how it goes. Progress not perfection!
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:00 PM
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Hi daughter. Glad Xmas went well regarding your dad.
Sorry if I do not understand but how does YOU calling your dad when he has been drinking constitute HIM breaking your boundary?
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:35 PM
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It doesn't really. I realized after this happened that the boundary leaves something to be desired, in that, if I call him when he's drinking it's up to me to end the conversation (which I did, but after he already brought up a bunch of things that I've told him I will not discuss with him).
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Old 01-11-2011, 03:49 PM
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Maybe that is the reason it feels like a "power trip" as you say. Maybe need to better define the boundaries, for example, define exactly what HIS behavior is that you will not allow into your life, and what actions you will take if he does cross those boundaries.

There used to be an alcoholic, drug-addicted person in my life who I cared about very much. He, too, would call at all hours and talk about things that just angered me. In fact, just talking to him when he was drunk angered me to no end. I just could not eliminate my expectation that any person talk to me SOBER. At that time, I wanted to continue having him in my life, so I set very specific boundaries regarding the phone calls. It took some work examining my feelings around my interactions with him and my needs for my life. What it boiled down to was because I need to get up early in the morning to go to work, I go to bed fairly early. And I need to have a good two hours of calm and peace at night before I go to bed, in order to be able to fall asleep. I would get very upset when he called me drunk or high. Sometimes we would get in fights when he'd call. So because I could not predict what he was going to do day to day, and I did not want to take the chance of him calling past 6PM and wrecking my sleep schedule, I set the boundary that he was not to call me after 6PM and he was never to call me either drunk and/or high. I wrote it all out for myself for the conversation I was going to have to communicate the boundary (for details, see my post on Transformyself's thread about Boundaries) and even read from it when we sat down to discuss.

It worked out perfectly. He respected my boundaries. It was simple and consistent enough for him to remember, so whether or not he was going to drink, he made it a habit to call me between 5 and 6 PM. I think he overstepped the telephone call boundary one time only. And it was great practice for me because he was someone I KNEW loved me and cared about me. Of course, I waited for a time when he was sober to sit down and have the conversation with him. I was so nervous that first time, I was shaking. IMO, this experience is occurring with your Dad because he is a safe person for you to practice this skill with. I'm glad you have this opportunity!

(((hugs))) hope something here is helpful.
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Old 01-11-2011, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by daughter333 View Post
I posted a while back that I set some boundaries with my dad:
- He should not call me when he's been drinking and if he does, I will end the conversation.
- I will not take him to a liquor store when he visited me for Christmas.
Maybe a better wording for the first boundary would be "I will not talk with him if he's been drinking, if he has been drinking, I will end the conversation." (??)

My understanding of boundaries (still very fledgling and hard for me to enforce) is that boundaries are for us. They tell us (more than any one else) what we will and will not put up with and what steps we are willing to take to end a situation that violates the boundary.

I think you did very well.
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:01 PM
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I think you are doing great...

...what you are experiencing with your father is very difficult, and I can't imagine what it would be like to go through this with a parent. That said, I think you are learning quickly and thinking properly for the most part.

Noday is giving you really good guidance in this thread, and I would second most (if not all) of what she has posted for you. In fact, I'd second most of what she says anywhere on this board. The uncertainty, despite her uncertainty, also posted good advice.

Be patient with yourself, do what is right for you when you know what is right, and when you aren't sure try to play the movie out to the end (if/then yourself all the way through it). That sometimes helps.

As for your dad and his "poor me" manipulation? They often feel worse about themselves than we do, and us telling them how pathetic they are just makes those feelings worse. They'll often hear it even when we aren't saying it. My wife is ten times harder on herself than I am.

That said, I believe it is just one of the many tactics alcoholic use to manipulate those around them. Recognize it as that and it gets a lot easier to handle. You may even find yourself learning to ignore things like that.

Bottom line, do what you need to do whatever you determine that is, and make the best decisions you can at the time you have to make them. If you don't have to make them right then, wait until you are confident in your decision or can't wait any longer. Down the way if they turn out to have been wrong, fair enough. Just don't make the same mistake twice and life will get a little better.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Cyranoak

Originally Posted by daughter333 View Post
Part of my struggle with this is my thought process around my dad's issues:

He can't deal with life, difficult relationships, etc. In order to avoid dealing with things, he drinks. He has also told me that he can't bear me or my siblings speaking to him harshly or judgmentally.

I don't want to be like him. I want to deal with my life, not run from it. My dad is part of my life. He's supported me in various ways, and I would not feel okay turning my back on him completely. That doesn't mean I'm going to allow myself to be run into the ground by his issues.

Is this totally circular thinking?
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:23 PM
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Thanks all, I have some stuff to process (don't we all).

I felt like I was managing this okay until lately. Right now I just want him to leave me alone because almost daily contact makes me feel like I am smothering. Starting to understand why my mom felt she had to leave.
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Old 01-12-2011, 07:02 AM
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almost daily contact makes me feel like I am smothering
How often do you WANT to talk to him?
How long do you want to talk to him when he does call sober?
What are YOUR needs?

The alcoholics and addicts I have known seem to DUMP their problems on others. I guess they do that to make themselves feel better by sharing? Or maybe because they're lazy and want the other person to just pick up the ball and take care of THEIR responsibilities. My codependence has been largely centered around taking care of others' responsibilities when they dump on me. Do you feel responsible for your Dad?

Ya' know, I had to cut my addict brother off completely some years ago because of this. It was very hard because we were very close. With my Dad, it's different. I learned to work around the drinking in order to be able to talk to him on the phone on a somewhat regular basis.
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Old 01-12-2011, 07:25 AM
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I have people in my life (that are not alcoholic) that are more then a little draining to talk to if we talk too often or about certain topics. I have no intention or desire to cut these people from my life. They are my family, I do love them, and all in all there are more pro's then con's to having them in my life. I just need boundaries.

Thinking of one person (my aunt - my mother died years ago so she is my kids' grandma and feels parental towards me just to share the nature of the relationship). So I don't answer the phone if I don't feel like talking. If you only want to talk once a week you can say "OK, Bye Dad, I'll talk to you next Saturday." and then do not answer the phone until next Sat.

If he brings up a topic that you do not want to talk about get off the phone. You don't even really need to state it as a boundary if you don't want to. For the person in my life - if she starts going to a place I do not like I do one of two things. Politely get off the phone, or just do not respond. I don't say one word. I have also learned that she isn't going to change her view on those topics, or her presentation of that view, so *I* need to quit bringing those topics up too. We are close (she is actually the closest person to me in my life) but I can not talk to her about parenting issues or my ex. I want to rip her face off and/or crawl in a hole so I don't go there. We are close and I wish I could have a different experience with her around those topics but I have accepted that I can not. She is also prone to 'Oh, I'm all alone just sitting and looking out the window no one cares blah blah blah' and I listen and sometimes I suggest something but mostly I just don't say anything. When all this was at its worst and I began with the boundaries I also limited our visits because it was harder for me when face to face. I finally learned that I could get up and walk off and/or say something to her in those situations. That works fast because no one wants to be told to knock it off and or get left alone in a room.

A couple things happened. In the short term I controlled things in a way that worked for me without stating my boundary to her at all (because the thought of that exhausts me because she really would not get that) and in the long term the topics that bothered me were less of an issue because whether consciously or not - she knew I'd get off the phone or leave if she started in.

Are things perfect? No. But I'm glad she's part of my life when all is said and done so I'm willing to accept things as they are. From what you post your dad actually seems surprisingly willing to live within your boundaries so it might be worth it to just keep working on your boundaries both on your own and with him.
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