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Overwhelmed & needing support on my boundaries

Old 01-31-2011, 03:50 PM
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Overwhelmed & needing support on my boundaries

I've posted about my recent break up with XABF and the fear I've dealt with surrounding it. The threats, harassment, and, insults have subsided as I stick to no contact, but I'm still really stressed. I'm doing a lot of work on myself, posting here, and reading some of the books suggested here. It's bringing up alot of strong feelings for me and my IRL friends don't understand. They think since he hasn't called at all in two days I should be happy and get on with my life. Meanwhile I'm still rushing with adrenaline with every creak of a floor board and tending to my young children who are acting out because of all the stress. Burnt out is putting my feelings mildly.

Anyway, all of a sudden drama seems to be popping up all around me and people seem to think I should be their shoulder to cry on.....

-My sister is having a nervous breakdown. Actually more of a psychotic break. She is suicidal and delusional. My whole family is rallying around her and expecting me to be there 100% for her. I love my sister, but I have spent my life with her telling me that she is much stronger because she was never depressed and I was. Or saying that mental illness is made up and I manufactured anxiety attacks to get attention. I wish! So now I'm in a ****** place emotionally and I just don't have it in me to be 100% supportive now that she concedes mental illness is real. Also (and I know how bitchy this sounds) I'm a bit pissed that my whole family is pampering her and sad since she wrote her kids good-bye suicide notes, but I'm all alone here writing good bye notes just in case he does snap and kill me.

-My mom called this morning and told me that my step father has cancer and I can't tell anyone. She told me 'cuz she needs my support.

-Good friends are going through an abuse/custody situation similar to one I experienced with XABF and his kids. They want my input, but it's bringing up some strong memories and realizations for me.

I am overwhelmed and need to set sane, healthy boundaries, but it is hard for me since my loved ones are having legitimate difficulties that family members normally do help with. Since I am very bad at setting boundaries I could use some help with what is appropriate in these situations. Thanks...it felt soooo good to write that all down.
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Old 01-31-2011, 04:23 PM
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Hi Idul, I would advise for you to call a Domestic violence hotline. I am not sure where you are located but usually just Googling "DV hotline" with the place you live in shows their webpage or contact #s. Please don't let more time pass, they can comfort you and give you practical tips so you are safer.

I do not have experience with what you are dealing with, I can only imagine your pain but I am glad you are thinking about you and your family at this time. Do not let others make you believe otherwise, you are doing the right thing thinking about you and your family first and foremost. Any chance you can go to a therapist or counselor? Boundaries is a tricky theme for me, that takes lots of practice and wisdom, and I need someone to guide me through it and support me, brainstorm with me, reinforce healthy ideas, and remind me I deserve peace.

Hugs and prayers your way.
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Old 01-31-2011, 04:29 PM
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There is nothing in the world wrong with you taking some time for yourself. There's nothing you can do for your sister or your step-father; they need professional treatment. How about just turning off the phone and giving yourself some time to just be. You can't be all things to everyone, but you can treat yourself to a break. Do something nice for yourself and let the other people (they are adults, so they are able to deal with their own issues) tend to their own stuff.
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:11 PM
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First of all, glad you posted and it felt good. That is important for you to know.

Second, if no contact is decreasing the negative behavior then keep it up. It is working.

Then, in general I measure boundaries as what are the things I can actually have an impact on vs the things I cannot do anything about. I will often listen - and give support - but ppl usually know what they think or what needs to be done for themselves and just need to listen to themselves.

If need be, I measure how much is on my plate that I actually have to do vs what can be delegated. If you are feeling overwhelmed at a time when others are overwhelmed it is a good time to compromise something this way: give each other 5 min to vent - hang up and agree to talk later (that day or the next) if needed. Many times ppl can actually take care of their own problems if allowed to.

Hope this helps.
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:17 PM
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Thanks for the advice. I have called the DV hotline and am taking as many safety precautions as I can. I have a lot of guilt for feeling so selfish right now, but I really have very little to give at the moment.
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Old 01-31-2011, 07:38 PM
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This falls directly into...

...the you can't take care of others until you are caring for yourself bucket. I've also heard it phrased as, put on your emergency mask before putting one on others.

When you can do so freely, and without hurting yourself and your children, then help other people if you want.

But, when what you have is the need to focus on you and your children and don't have the energy and ability to spread yourself thinner, then others are going to have to take care of things for themselves, like it or not. As somebody else here said recently, when people pleasers stop people pleasing, people are not pleased.

Often people label those caring for themselves as selfish, and often they childishly or ignorantly lash out at us. God bless them but f' them. You have yourself and your children to care for, and that's exactly what is most important.

Adults are responsible for taking care of themselves, children are not. That means the only people you are responsible for besides yourself is your kids. That's it. Nobody else. Just you and your kids.

Take care, and take what you want and leave the rest,

Cyranoak
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Old 01-31-2011, 07:57 PM
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Idul, I agree about talking to the DV folks because they have resources available that are very practical and helpful. But I also strongly suggest you go to AlAnon. I have been in similar situations as you are in now, that is, struggling to keep my head above water with my own issues and problems while an alcoholic has me by one ankle and an addict by the other ankle, both trying to pull me under, all while people who cannot handle their own lives dump truckloads of concrete blocks on my head and shoulders, further drowning and trapping me under. AlAnon (and anti-depressants which I needed because I was severely clinically depressed) saved my life. And it taught me the tools I needed to learn in order to navigate these treacherous waters, such as those you have found yourself in.

My simple answer to your request for help in your situation is to fall out of contact with these people, all of them, immediately. There is nothing you can do to help them, change the problems, or make it easier for them to cope. If you really need to, give them the phone number of the local AlAnon chapter and then cut them off. If you can't cut your mother off completely, then you must tell her not to dump her problems on you as you cannot cope right now. That is what I would do. Hopefully you can find something useful in that.

Please take good care of yourself and get yourself surrounded by strong, supportive people who know exactly what you are going through-AlAnon.
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:09 PM
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P.S. I understand your expectations and feelings about your family and wanting their support. But please consider that they may be limited in this respect, which is nothing to do with you. In AlAnon we learn about our families of origin and learn to see and accept those limitations. I have learned that my first step toward Recovery was a step OUT of my family of origin, into a wider community of caring people who could provide me with a level of support and resources my family of origin was incapable of providing. It was a very big, scary step, but was the BEST thing I could have ever done for myself. (((hugs)))
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:37 PM
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Hi Idul *hugs*

Congratulations on sticking with NC and I'm glad the threats etc have subsided. I would echo what has been said though.. contact a DV organisation. They have all the tools and support to help you stay as safe as possible.

Your sister, your step-father, your friend. None of these people can you fix.

Your sister requires expert care: all you can do is be as supportive as you are able.
Your step-father requires expert care: all you can do is be as supportive as you are able.
Your friend requires expert care: all you can do is be as supportive as you are able.

Right now, you have your own stuff to take care of and your young children. It is not selfish to put that first. If you have anything left over in the tank to give, then that's up to you to give it, but your emotional reserves are a little like a bank account. Keep withdrawing and you will go into the red. Keep going in the red and you will collapse.

Do the people you mentioned know what you are going through right now? If so, then maybe a gentle reminder that you have a suitcase full of issues of your own right now, but that you will be as supportive as you are able, might help (?). If they don't know, then the same applies (giving as much detail, or not, about your sitution as you wish).

Tx
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Old 02-01-2011, 03:32 PM
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Hi Idul,

How are you?
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Old 02-01-2011, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyranoak View Post
...God bless them but f' them...
I may have to steal this and make it my sig.

Idul,
I struggle with boundaries too. Here's and example of one and what I did to change it and why it works.

Example:
For a while I thought my boundary would be that my wife shall absolutely not drink around me. Didn't work. Know why? It wasn't my boundary. It was me telling her what she can and can't do and we all know that doesn't work with our As. I can't control it.

How'd I change it?:
I decided that once I put my boy to bed, I was going to read a favorite book on my kindle. Downstairs. In the quiet time of the evening.

Why it works?:
It's all about me. Oddly enough, by reading alone somewhere else, my AW and I didn't have to interact. She did her thing, and perhaps it meant another glass of wine and I forgot about her and immersed myself in my book. Total head break and it was a healthy one.
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Old 02-01-2011, 04:40 PM
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I put a boundary today, my dad, uncle and sister are in an email chain about a house being sold. My sister and I are the legal owners of the house.

My uncle mentioned something about how the money could be handled after the house is sold. I was about to write stuff about my mom and her plans. And my plans.

Then I decided that is not their plan to make, the only ones that have to agree are my mom, my sister and I. And I can talk to them separately. My uncle or dad doesn't have to know everything and have no say.

Not that there's anything wrong, but my dad never gave my mom (and seldom gives his kids) any "heads up" about what's cooking and never ever asked our opinions. He has done whatever he finds appropiate for him.

So I just commented on relevant stuff about the home and leave it at that. I don't have to explain everything to everyone, I don't have to ask for feedback all the time, I don't have to ask for permission. I also have to respect my mom and her privacy.

It is useful for me to see how others put boundaries and what the others provide me, so I know what is fair to provide them... a fair exchange of energies and efforts.

Another thing about boundaries is what Shellcrusher mentions, you don't have to go to the person and necessarily say "here I will put a boundary"...

Anyway there have been threads about this topic I am wishing to bump for you, let me find them first
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Old 02-01-2011, 05:48 PM
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Hey, I am finally feeling grounded again after a day of emotional chaos. I spoke on the phone to my sister and she sounded worse than ever. Very hopeless, narcissistic, and depressed. She is convinced that her experience of depression is unique and no one else has ever felt this way. She sounded particularly distraught about her feelings of wanting to die and was terrified that this is uncommon. To help soothe her I shared a feeling/thought I'd experienced recently (related to my recent breakup and not anything with malice). Her response? "That's awful. I don't even have it in me to think something like that. I could never even think something like that." I cried for about 4 hours straight after that. It was so similar to many relationships in my life, where out of a desire to help I have made myself vulnerable and then been attacked. Anyway, despite her current situation, my sis has been added to my no contact list and I will listen closer to my need for boundaries.
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Old 02-01-2011, 05:58 PM
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Hey Idul

Sending you huge *hugs* . Stay strong babygirl.

Tx
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Idul View Post
Thanks for the advice. I have called the DV hotline and am taking as many safety precautions as I can. I have a lot of guilt for feeling so selfish right now, but I really have very little to give at the moment.
I know exactly what you are dealing with. It is very tough. After leaving my XAH my brothers expected me to go and live with our father on the other side of the country to be his caregiver. I went for a visit (it was a disaster) my father, feeling very vulnerable and lonely wanted me to sleep in his bed with him. It was heartbreaking. I felt so bad for him. He had become senile and demented and was like a little lost child. I couldn't do that for him and felt mean and heartless to leave and return to the west coast. He died about 6 weeks later and I still choke up thinking how he thought I had abandoned him. Life can be so hard......
Now I tend to keep others at arms length because closeness costs too much.
Take care of you and hopefully your family will do the same for themselves.
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:28 PM
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CSHNow - Thank you for sharing that. It means a lot to have people be so open and honest about their own painful experiences. When I read your post I could completely understand how you just weren't in an emotional place to be able to be your father's caregiver. We only have so much of ourselves to give, but it is certainly no measure of our love for others. I hope that in time you allow yourself the gift that closeness can be and I hope it leads to nothing but joy.
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Old 02-02-2011, 06:35 AM
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Hi, Idul,

Really sucks when other people have their crises just as we're dealing with our own, doesn't it?

I like to "hand off" other people's problems to those who can REALLY help. I'm big on locating a couple of good professional resources (there's a support group for EVERY PROBLEM), passing along that info, and then letting go of it.

Maybe you could plan to meet your mom for lunch once a week or something. She's probably feeling very alone right now. Steer her to some cancer support groups (LiveStrong has some great resources for cancer survivors and family members), and just give her some attagirls.

The sister you may have to go no contact with. She needs professional help you can't give.

The friends can be steered to DV support groups.

Hugs, keep taking care of yourself.
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:42 AM
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Feeling much better today. The kids and I are snowed/iced in and I'm going to use that as an excuse to relax, snuggle, and regroup.
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:58 AM
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You know what I've noticed, Idul?
That when you live with an alcoholic, you sometimes tend to take the position of caretaker in other relationships in your life as well. And as someone said here, when you stop being a people-pleaser, people are not pleased.

It doesn't matter how "legitimate" people's issues are around you. When they are all used to relying on you for support, they do tend to get bent out of shape when you are the one needing help. A good friend of mine who just lost her father has half her family angry at her right now because she's usually the one everyone turns to for support -- and right now, she is so grief-stricken she has put up strong boundaries to care for herself. Instead of realizing that she must be in a really bad place, they are angry because she is failing to fullfill the function she normally does in the family. I told her I think this is a healthy development for everyone involved. And hurtful as it might be, I think it's similar in your case. Your family needs to realize that sometimes, you just have enough and can't take anymore. And it's a sign of your health that you are able to see that you need those boundaries.

I'm weeding in my friendship garden at the current time for similar reasons.
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Old 02-02-2011, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by lillamy View Post
I'm weeding in my friendship garden at the current time for similar reasons.
I love it! I've been doing some weeding as well and my garden is looking pretty small and pathetic. BUT...the soil is getting more fertile and I'm looking forward to planting some good seeds.
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