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Specific examples of boundaries

Old 04-24-2011, 12:26 AM
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Specific examples of boundaries

Hi everyone,
As some of you read my recent posts, I am getting fearful about how I am going to act/react if and when my ABF picks up a drink. I am going to alanon, don't worry. In fact, I met a woman there on Friday who invited me to an AA speaker meeting for Saturday, which I went. We talked again, and i told her I needed to find a sponsor because I know setting boundaries and dealing with "what comes next" in my recovery is gonna be hard for me. She offered to sponsor me! yay! So, I am wondering if you all have specific examples of boundaries that you have used with your A or RA that you would share. I understand the concept.

If you - a description of the behavior we find unacceptable (again being as descriptive as possible.) I will - a description of what action you will take to protect and take care of your self in the event the other person violates the boundary.

If you continue this behavior - a description of what steps you will take to protect the boundary that you have set.

This is an example of a boundary that I set for myself back in the fall when my ABF and I were in Vegas, I hit a bottom of sorts with his drinking and it ended up in a tearful conversation near the strip where i cried out my boundaries! I pat myself on the back in hindsight... I didn't even realize I was setting boundaries, I guess I was just protecting myself...

But I told him: I don't like the way you act, change, behave (insert whatever behavior I dislike) when you drink. Its embarrassing, you're rude, and it makes me uncomfortable. Therefore, if we are going to do something and I anticipate you are going to act that way, I will not go. And, if we are already out somewhere or doing something and you act that way, I will leave. I followed up with, I am considering not going to sporting event (that we have tickets for) next week, because I'm afraid of how you'll act. The interesting thing then was that he said no, I won't drink at said event. And I said no you dont have to do that... and he said no, i would rather have you at the game.

Anyways, we did go to that game and we were both miserable. A little later in our relationship, actually the week he made "the comment," the week i accepted he is an alcoholic, we had tickets to the same sport! That time I didn't go. He asked me about 4 times, "you sure you don't wanna go?" I just said, "I'm not going." One of his friends even backed out and I still said "no."- which I have learned is a complete sentence

Sorry that thread took a ride on the distraction train. The question is: What are your specific examples of boundaries that YOU have used on your A or RA? Please, and thanks.
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Old 04-24-2011, 05:59 AM
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You are still making up lists of rules and behaviors for him.

Boundaries are for you, not him. You don't need to communicate them to him at all. If you are embarrassed when you are out with him, and that is one of your boundaries, you politely excuse yourself and leave. The idea is that you are removing yourself from the upsetting behavior, not that you are punishing him for breaching one of YOUR boundaries.

If he later asks why you left, you can tell him that you didn't like the way you were feeling when he said/did whatever. And that's it. The boundary is to protect you, only.

One of my biggest boundaries is that I refused to argue when he was drunk. I'd simply say, "We will discuss it later." I didn't maintain it perfectly, but I did a lot better by walking away from potential arguements. It kept me from engaging it the craziness of an argument with someone who is incapable of thinking clearly and is only interested in saying something to make me the bad guy.
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:17 AM
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RIGHT ON LEXIE!!

we forget this is for our SANITY boundaries have saved my soul and i feel great..i am a worthy person, no one gets to push my buttons UNLESS i let them....

and with that being said, I use the tools, slogans and all my reading materials to help, and of course a great sponsor(s). I call them my ANGELS my sponsor(s) i have many...so many in the fellowship!

glad you know NO is a complete sentence!! that took me awhile
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:22 AM
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When I first learned about boundaries and started setting them, I wrote them out first, practiced saying them, and then sat him down and communicated them. Here's how it went:

1. When you come to see me drunk or on drugs, I feel angry and upset. I do not want to have people in my life whose behavior causes me to feel angry and upset.
2. Therefore, if you come to see me and you are drunk or on drugs, I will not talk to you and I will not allow you into the house.
3. I would like for you to not come see me if you are drunk or on drugs.
4. Do you understand? Please repeat back to me what I just said.

That's it. I provided no opportunity for him to argue with me about anything I said about my boundary. I said Thank You and got up from the table and walked away. Then, whenever he came to the house drunk or on drugs, I did exactly what I said I would.

I also set a boundary concerning phone calls. Basically the same thing as above but my requirement was that he not call me after 6PM any day of the week, and if he did call me after 6PM, I would not talk to him and would immediately hang up the phone. The reason was I could never predict whether or not he would be high or drunk when he called, and when he was high or drunk I would get so flippin' angry I would start screaming into the phone and then would be hyper and not able to fall asleep in time to get enough sleep so that I could get up early and go to work the next day.

Another boundary I set concerned him having sex with other people. I knew he had had sex with two other people during the time he supposedly was in love with me and wanted to marry me, quack quack, and I was tired of the rollercoaster ride. So I told him my boundary, which was, if you have sex with one more person, I will no longer act as your "girlfriend" and I will exclude you from my life. He did and I did.

When I first started my boundary work, I was hurt, scared, and actually shaking as I read my boundaries off to him. But with time, it got easier and in the end I was all the more stronger for it. It feels REALLY good to communicate your needs to another person and then STAND UP for yourself and your needs without screaming, crying, or throwing breakable objects in expression of your anger. And the success I experienced in THIS relationship translates over to my other relationships now too.
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:33 AM
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Regarding this:

But I told him: I don't like the way you act, change, behave (insert whatever behavior I dislike) when you drink. Its embarrassing, you're rude, and it makes me uncomfortable. Therefore, if we are going to do something and I anticipate you are going to act that way, I will not go. And, if we are already out somewhere or doing something and you act that way, I will leave. I followed up with, I am considering not going to sporting event (that we have tickets for) next week, because I'm afraid of how you'll act. The interesting thing then was that he said no, I won't drink at said event. And I said no you dont have to do that... and he said no, i would rather have you at the game.
I want to tell you THIS is why I ALWAYS trust my instincts. You KNEW you did not want to go, and you KNEW you were going to be miserable (how could you NOT be miserable KNOWING that: 1. He wants to drink? and 2. He might drink and then what? and 3. He probably resents me for not being able to drink at the game?).

In my opinion, you just didn't trust your instincts about this situation but the next time it came up, you did. YAY! Good for you. I had to learn to do so. It was difficult but I know it was related to my NEEDS. If I have plans to go out to dinner with someone, and they suggest a restaurant, and I don't want to go to that restaurant, I historically would just say, "OK," because it seemed that was what the other person wanted. But say it was Italian but in reality I wanted Chinese that night. I had to learn to say "No, I prefer Chinese" and then NOT GO if they wanted to do Italian. It seems like every day of my life I have to consciously decide for MYSELF and not allow what other people want, say, or do to affect my own behaviors and choices. Seems cumbersome, and yes, it is, but after you practice it enough it becomes easier.

Stand up for yourself, stand up for YOUR needs first, put your SELF first above all else, and trust your instincts. Even if it is something as small as what to eat for dinner.
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Old 04-24-2011, 07:27 AM
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This is something I am still very actively working on, but I did have a lightbulb about it a few weeks ago.

Not a boundary: if he doesn't have a job by the end of the month, I will leave him.

Boundary: I will only be in relationships where the partners are equal and both contribute equally.

I am not sure my boundary is 100% on, but notice the shift ... Not a boundary -> someone else has to do something for me. A boundary -> I do something for myself as I am the only one I can control.

Just got this a few weeks ago and it took me a while! And I still need to work hard at applying it across the board.

Hope this helps.
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Old 04-24-2011, 07:52 AM
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Hi,

When I was beginning my recovery I did not understand boundaries. My therapist gave me this information ( Pia Mellody) and it made them a lot more understandable. Between understanding and doing I had and still have a lot of work to do, but as they say, when you know better you can do better.

Susan
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Old 04-24-2011, 08:18 AM
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I too struggle with setting boundaries with the focus being on me. Consequences of actions can feel like a punishment, but I guess you have to look at the reasons behind it to know what it is for you.

Boundary: If I smell alcohol on my AH I go into another room. My boundary is I will not be with him when I smell it because it upsets me. I have a choice to sit and smell it or walk away. (I have never even told him about this.)

I will only be intimate when I feel I am in a relationship with someone who values me and my feelings, otherwise I feel used and I don't want to feel used any longer. When I feel loved and wanted and I trust the actions from my AH are genuine then normal intimacy will follow. This boundary has everything to do with how I am being treated. Unfortunately being an active A has direct consequences on this. I don't think you can be an active A and make me feel loved. Active A's lie, manipulate, sneak, hide, have a bad attitudes, and are so self absorbed I see it very unlikely they can value another person.

If my AH is in an argumentative mood and is acting like a teenager I do not engage in it. My boundary is I don't want to waste my time or energy with someone who wants to argue and not resolve.

Hope this helps.
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Old 04-24-2011, 11:33 AM
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Sitting in the waiting area of the rehab building, my mother asks me what I think she should do, "stay here or go home". My instinct was to tell her that she had to stay but I told her that it was her decision to make, not mine and that I was not even going to give her my opinion as I did not want to be involved. She reacted with suprise and anger but I stuck to my guns and refused to give tell her how I felt.

She came out 5 minutes later saying she had decided to stay.

That was my boundary, I was not going to feel responsible for whatever she wanted to do so I needed to stay out of the decision-making process.
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Old 04-24-2011, 12:02 PM
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I wish I was able to enforce my boundaries without engaging.

My boundary is that if I think she is drinking (and they are pretty good at hiding it even when all instincts say they are) me and the girls feel uncomfortable and will go back to our other house.

The difficulty is, to enforce that boundary one must concern ones-self with whether they have or haven't been drinking, and that is the rub. I don't want to give a flying cr*p whether or not she has, and be looking for the signs and smells but it is unavoidable when children and access are involved.

Anyway, I do enforce my boundary, but would like to do with less 'engagement!'

Thanks for listening
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:46 PM
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Thanks for your input everyone, your specific examples are very helpful.

Originally Posted by LexieCat View Post
You are still making up lists of rules and behaviors for him.
Can you point this out to me please, Lexie? Is it because told him what the consequence would be that made it a rule not a boundary? Because ultimately, the "I will leave" or "not attend" was to protect myself... for me. (Maybe I have trouble typing out what I'm really feeling sometimes...). And because he chose not to drink at that particular event, I attended knowing his drunk behavior wouldn't make me feel bad.

I also refuse to engage in argumentative, debating, or volatile behavior of any kind while drinking. That has been a boundary of mine from the outset, from experience in a past relationship.
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:53 PM
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These are great examples! It helps decrease the Drama if you are able to detach at the same time as expressing your boundaries... I've learned the importance of timing!

I am so uncomfortable around people when they drink that I will not hand anyone alcohol. Only one person (not ABF) has tried to 'trick' me. I leave parties if they get too raucous; sometimes I don't go at all.

When I was living with my ABF, I refused to wash out glasses that held alcohol. As I told him, if he were a diabetic eating cake, I wouldn't have any part of that scene either. He thought I was rude; no one else noticed.

I told my ABF that I was no longer willing to live with him being an active alcoholic. I didn't explain that statement. He didn't ask for clarification (I did think it pretty clear). After weeks of him not drinking, he accepted a drink (in front of ds, which he'd promised many times not to do); so I moved out.

Thanks for the thread!

- Sylvie
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Old 04-24-2011, 07:18 PM
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Jds0401....

Those were just about the two most perfect posts I have EVER read about boundaries. Absolutely a gold star!! THANK YOU!!


For years, I mistook boundaries to be "rules" that I needed to establish to get my AH to see the light!! And so my early days in al-anon seemed to cause more problems than solve them Progress, not perfection, thankfully.

My boundaries now are still "rules" but they are my rules... For me. My way of staying on task to get myself to the life I want and be the person I want to be. Someone I am proud of, who acts honorably and respectfully of others... Who doesn't get caught up in her emotions and sucked into drama. And as I become "aware" of things that trigger me to fall off course.. I sit back and determine if a new boundary is order, or if I already have one but have been lazy and supporting it!

Thanks for letting me share!
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Old 04-24-2011, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by jds0401 View Post
When I first tried boundaries (when the RAH was actively drinking) I started by accidentally making rules as well...things like "I will not be around you when you drink"....with a plan of actually communicating that to him (which was engaging and controlling - the communication part - at least for me it was).

Then I decided that boundaries were about actions and me and I really didn't need to communicate anything to him about MY boundaries, I would just make a commitment to myself to do certain things...so my boundaries became non-spoken actions in my head that I followed
Yes, I think I understand better now. Thank you
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Old 04-24-2011, 08:18 PM
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WHAT A FANTASTIC THREAD!
And not a moment too soon, as I really needed a refresher.

I LOVE the no need to explain. This has been working wonderfully.


This is something I am still very actively working on, but I did have a lightbulb about it a few weeks ago.

Not a boundary: if he doesn't have a job by the end of the month, I will leave him.

Boundary: I will only be in relationships where the partners are equal and both contribute equally.
I am not sure my boundary is 100% on, but notice the shift ... Not a boundary -> someone else has to do something for me. A boundary -> I do something for myself as I am the only one I can control.
---putmeontheair


YES! this is the difference, Thanks for the reminder! Great work on you, by the way!


1. I will not react to his manipulations (arguments) and let him upset me (this is true if he's active or recovering), instead I will take a deep breath, leave the room and for at least 15 minutes not think about it. Then when I think about it after 15 minutes I will realize the moment has passed and there was no reaction I could have had that wouldn't have escalated the situation anyway so best to just forget it and move on, I can't control him.

2. If he needs a ride to the "store" I will be too busy, I will not engage but rather say "I'm working or too busy, sorry." That's it, no more needs to be said.

3. If he asks to borrow money I will not have any - no argument or fight, just "I'm broke, sorry about that" (none of his business why I consider myself broke at the moment).

4. If he asks me to lie I will say no (he was bad about this when he was actively drinking, asking me to lie to doctors, parents you name it), I would tell him simply "That's not my place you can tell people whatever you want (truth or lie not my concern) but I don't have to be involved or say anything."

*I will not ask, check or otherwise try to find out if he is or is not drinking. This is his cross to bear. (true if active or recovering)

*I will not ask, check or otherwise try to find out if he is or is not attending meetings. I will not ask about his recovery but will be open to listening to any information he volunteers, even then I will not be actively involved. His recovery is on him not me. I am responsible for my recovery.

* I will put me and my recovery first.

---Jds


These are GREAT! Thanks for these, I am going to steal this stuff right now.


Is it because told him what the consequence would be that made it a rule not a boundary? ---concerned nurse

I think the idea is to come to your plan of action, or your limitation definition on your own, and with no, "if you..., I will".
This kind of ultimatum really opens things up for argument, blame, all kinds of manipulations, games, lies.
If it is how you REALLY feel, and you get REALLY clear about it, it does not matter one flipping bit whether he knows what you will do or not.

The process is hard, and it has a trick to it, but once u get it , it is really so freeing, like these ladies above have illustrated.

You know what you know.
The "I statements" really just keep your decision about you-practicing self care, choosing health for you.
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Old 04-24-2011, 08:48 PM
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One of mine I recently set a few months ago was that I am not going to go to any parties or get togethers at his friends house where alcohol is being served anymore.

I'm done, I'm tired of it, and I just don't want to be around an environment that consists of "lets drink till we get sh*t-faced" I'm also tired of him trying to shove his friends wives down my throat to be friends with. I am an adult, I don't need a "play date." I've never been a social butterfly, and yes, I don't have many friends, but the ones I do are of awesome quality and that's enough for me.
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Old 04-24-2011, 09:25 PM
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1. I will have nothing to do with his DUI. I didn't remind him of the court date, I didn't tell him to call a lawyer, I haven't been reminding him to do the paperwork for his sentence(which one of those things is addiction counseling) It is not my concern in any way, shape or form.

2. I will not having any semblance of a serious discussion with him while he is drinking.

3. I will leave the house, bringing the kids with, every time he decides to play his music loudly. he knows it is one of my major "triggers", and it's developing into triggers for the kids too. On Friday, I did tell him that the loudness of the music was making his son cry, and he said "I DON'T care".

4. I do NOT leave the kids in his care while he is drinking. I purposely picked this job that I have due to the hours( home by 9:30-9:40) and because 15yo DS can care for his brothers, rather than their father. I have my sister watching them one night a week(regardless of what shift their father is working) and I'm trying to get plans set up for at least 2 of the other nights. yes, this means I generally get zero time out of the house without the kids, but I was coming home too many times to him at least starting to drink, or even if he wasn't drinking, I'd hear about "what I was doing" while out with my friends, during his drunken rants later on. Because you know a bunch of 20-30 something women crafting and talking are just living it up!
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Old 04-24-2011, 10:06 PM
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I guess for me boundaries are not so much about actions as they are about acknowledging my limits and giving them the respect they deserve. If I don't do that, no one will.

As for specific boundaries? They change with the situation. I know I wouldn't have a drink around him or if he invites me to I wouldn't. I won't take the relationship to another level until he is on his own two feet financially. But those are practical sort of boundaries.

Emotional boundaries for me are tougher. If someone's behavior is upsetting to me I have a hard time expressing that because I am such a people pleaser. I also find men who have a tough time expressing their feelings so it becomes an impasse. I'm a wuss
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Old 04-25-2011, 05:17 AM
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Originally Posted by concernednurse View Post
Can you point this out to me please, Lexie? Is it because told him what the consequence would be that made it a rule not a boundary? Because ultimately, the "I will leave" or "not attend" was to protect myself... for me.
Yeah, it's the communicating part that's the problem. If you lay out the boundaries FOR him, they become rules.

Think about it. How else could he take that but as a rule for him? The alcoholic doesn't understand our need for boundaries. So anything we do in the way of protecting our territory by refusing to be affected by the drinking is going to be perceived by them as "punishment". When he "promised" not to drink, how else could he feel but controlled by you?

If you believe he is going to want to drink (and is likely to be obnoxious), don't go if you don't want to go. If he does become obnoxious while you are out, you can politely leave without a scene.

The idea is to maintain your own serenity in the face of the fact that you are in a relationship with an active alcoholic. A tough proposition, for sure. I suppose that's why so many of us ultimately leave.
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Old 04-25-2011, 06:59 AM
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Not to be contrarian or argumentative, but I respectfully disagree with Lexie. Communicating my boundaries to the person who regularly crosses them has never created a problem for me. For me, the problem has been where I allow myself to be a doormat, do not set healthy boundaries, and then REACT everytime the person crossed my boundaries. When I communicate my boundaries, I am not just setting rules. If he wants to interpret my boundaries as "rules" then that is HIS problem. Yes, my experience has been that alcoholics and addicts see other people's needs as limitations to their freedom and getting what they want, but I have learned not to engage in childish conversations with adults. I have the choice to walk away.

When I set and communicate my boundaries, and do not engage in conversations about the other person's (incorrect and self-centered) perceptions of what I am saying, and I do not engage in the drama and hysteria of Reacting (I detach), I begin to be able to see and understand the way the other person thinks. Which I believe is very important when dealing with a person with alcoholism and/or other addiction.
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