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Examples of boundaries(in writing)

Old 08-22-2012, 08:47 AM
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Examples of boundaries(in writing)

Sorry about posting a lot lately everyone, I'm just really working through things lately and stuff keeps coming up.
I read a lot about what a boundary is but I have trouble verbalizing it or writing it out. Can some of you please share what your boundaries look like when written out. For example, I know I don't want to live with my AH if continues to drink but I can't figure out how to write that down to where it sounds like a boundary that he'll understand or that I can communicate to him properly.

Or, when a friend of mine continually tells me how to raise my son. She hates the fact that I let him sit in the front seat. Umm, he's almost 14 and nearly as tall as me. Instead of saying anything to her I just sit there and shrug my shoulders and escape as quick as I can from her barrage of stories about kids who are disfigured by airbags going off. I'm about ready to pull news articles for her about ADULTS who are disfigured from airbags. In effect, I get resentful instead of setting a boundary.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:09 AM
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I don't think you need to verbalize boundaries or write them out. It's really more of an internal thing. You decide what behavior you won't tolerate, then you decide what you will do to prevent that behavior from affecting you.

I think escaping from your 'friend' is a great way to enforce a boundary. And I put the word friend in quotes because maybe she's not such a great friend after all and maybe you could cut down on your resentment by cutting down the amount of time you spend with her.

It doesn't matter if your AH understands your boundary or if you communicate it to him properly. That's you trying to control him. All that matters is that YOU understand your boundary and YOU know what you will do if it is crossed. Perhaps that is what you are struggling with?

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Old 08-22-2012, 09:21 AM
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LTD has it right. Boundaries are for you. What you want to do in particular circumstances.

For example one of my boundaries is I will not ride in a car where the driver is impaired.

Your friend,
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:26 AM
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When I first learned about boundaries (sadly, just a few years ago), it helped me to write them out, practice saying them out loud, and then communicate them to the person. It was truly a growth process and once I did it, I think my perspective changed significantly. It was difficult to communicate them and I was literally shaking when I actually stated them but I'm glad I did it.

Here is a link to the webpage where I learned how to set and communicate a boundary. Scroll down to the "Formula for emotionally honest communication" section.

Setting Personal Boundaries - protecting self

The basic format is:


When you . . . . .

I feel . . . . .

I want . . . .

Since I am powerless over you, I will take this action to protect myself if you behave in this way.
So, with the friend example you gave, you could say:

When you tell me how to raise my son,
I feel attacked and resentful.
I want you to stop telling me how to raise my son, and stop insinuating that I am a bad parent.
Since I am powerless over you, if you continue to tell me how to raise my son, I will no longer speak with you (or whatever other action you want to take).

I don't know that you can set a boundary regarding someone else's drinking. Unless the boundary is, when he is drinking, you will leave the house or something like that. Which is your choice but what are you going to do if he is drinking at 11:00 PM on a school night?
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:30 AM
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Not quite sure why you need a boundary with a friend, why not simply say; "we have already discussed this subject, and we obviously disagree." Then change the subject.

As far as the AH, I'm not sure you need to "communicate" anything additional to him. You have already done this, and nothing has changed.

Saying this without malice, and with kindness, but.......

Everything has a price, and until you are willing to compromise/ change your standards/expectations you will continue on the merry-go-round from hell. I have been reading your posts for quite sometime now, and I feel as if I know you well enough to say this. Please know I am not attacking you, I really feel for you. I know you have your son's best interest at heart, but you have to take care of you FIRST, so you can continue to nurture your son.

I have a feeling if you could continue to live in your current lifestyle without any change of financial status, you would already have left your AH. So, IMO that is your answer. This is now about money. And everytime I have ever based a decision on money, I paid the price.. HUGS
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:30 AM
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A visual that helped me to understand the concept is to think of a room with a door that has a handle on the inside of the door, but none on the outside of the door. This way, a person has complete control of what comes in and/or what goes out. OTHERS HAVE NO ACCESS AT ALL!

The room, of course represents a persons physical and mental self.

An example of one of my boundaries is about trust. If I sense or have any evidence that a person is not trustworthy, my antennae are ALWAYS on high alert around them. I will not place my faith in them. I am not transparent around them, I do not share personal information with them, I do not share my tender feelings with them. Most of all, I no longer allow myself to expect them "have my back" --(lowered expectations), and I invest very little into the relationship (or potential relationship) with them. I detach from the relationship if I am already in it---OR, I do not make any movements toward forming a close relationship with them. I give usual respect and protect their constitutional rights when necessary, but, I draw the line at that.

99% of the time, they will never know how I feel. They don't need to know. It is vital for me to know, however. It is not about them (when I set the boundry)---It is about how I plan to protect myself, given what I know about their behaviors.

An example might be: If I notice that a particular guy is flirtatious with other women, and then he makes a flirtatious gesture toward me---I would NOT respond in like manner, and I would not enter a romantic relationship with him under any circumstances. Even if he were George Cloney--my blood would run cold because I learned decades ago to never, NEVER trust my heart to a flirtatious man. It is simply non -negotiable. (I control the doorknob from the inside of the room--George Cloney doesn't have the option, because his side of the door has no knob!)...poor george....

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Old 08-22-2012, 09:34 AM
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Liz, Mike and LTD are correct. And by trying to communicate your boundaries to an active alcoholic is like trying to ask a tree to stop dropping fall leaves on your back porch.

Have you read any of the books recommended here? Under the Influence? Another one is "Drinking: A Love Story" by Caroline Knapp. It's a personal biography but really sheds light into the minds of addicts.

I would also recommend posting this on the alcoholics forum. They will gladly tell you how they dealt with things like this and how it sounds being filtered through their distorted thinking while active in their addictions. And lastly, read the post http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...-behavior.html and the link to the article.

I know you are trying to salvage your marriage and subsequently your life here, but your efforts are wasted on someone who is in the midst of an addiction. He is just not emotionally available to have these normal, grown up conversations about your marriage.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:45 AM
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Thanks everyone, but I was looking for examples from your lives and how you expressed your boundaries in word form. I like what Learn2Live shared, that was kind of what I was looking for.

I never set boundaries with anyone, not just my AH. The friend I mentioned above, I cut off my friendship with her without warning and she is now befuddled as to why I don't talk to her or get together with her. She's also the one who got on my case about the airbag thing. Anyway, I guess I feel that if I set a boundary with her in the first place, would that have possibly saved our relationship and maybe allowed our relationship to continue. Now, in hindsight(I actually haven't spoken to her in a year or so) I see that she was a toxic person and that I made a good decision but I still felt guilty in HOW I ended things. Basically, I chickened out and ran away. Guess, I'm just looking for suggestions on how to express my boundaries and how to make sure I set them in the first place.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:58 AM
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Here's my perspective, and I know many folks out there who disagree with me. But we don't need to go about expressing our boundaries as if we expect to change others' behaviors by doing so. We simply live them.

For example, one of my boundaries is to not spend quality time with negative thinkers. People who I consider to be emotional vampires - they suck all of the good energy out of any room they are in. I don't tell anyone this, I just live it. When I identify a negative person, I do my best to avoid that person from that point on. I don't justify, rationalize, or communicate in anyway why - I just do. That person doesn't need me to criticize them...which in my humble opinion is what it feels like to have someone communicate a boundary to me.

I've been on the receiving end of others' personal boundaries being used as a method to try to control my behavior. It's a fine line - keeping it on your side of the street. Hence my suggestion to simply define your boundaries internally and then live them externally.
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
Thanks everyone, but I was looking for examples from your lives and how you expressed your boundaries in word form. I like what Learn2Live shared, that was kind of what I was looking for.

I never set boundaries with anyone, not just my AH. The friend I mentioned above, I cut off my friendship with her without warning and she is now befuddled as to why I don't talk to her or get together with her. She's also the one who got on my case about the airbag thing. Anyway, I guess I feel that if I set a boundary with her in the first place, would that have possibly saved our relationship and maybe allowed our relationship to continue. Now, in hindsight(I actually haven't spoken to her in a year or so) I see that she was a toxic person and that I made a good decision but I still felt guilty in HOW I ended things. Basically, I chickened out and ran away. Guess, I'm just looking for suggestions on how to express my boundaries and how to make sure I set them in the first place.
I have been working on Assertiveness because I am an absolute doormat. And this is part of Assertiveness. I tend to do what you describe, run away or just cut the person off from my life completely. Or, I get angry and explode. Or I am a doormat and just let them continue to do what makes me feel bad. Learning how to determine and communicate my boundaries was a maturity process for me. I learned how to take control of my life, and communicate to others what is and is not acceptable to me. I could never confront someone before I learned to do this. I was terrified.

Really, only you can determine your own boundaries. A personal example for me was a drug addicted and alcoholic person used to call me at all hours of the night and then I would get angry and start yelling at them. I realized how his drunken phone calls were disturbing me and decided to communicate that to him. So, I said, "When you call me in the middle of the night all drunk and high, I become very angry and it disturbs my sleep. I would like for you to not ever call me when you are drunk or on drugs, and not ever call me after 6PM. If you call me drunk or on drugs, I will hang up on you. If you call me after 6PM, I will not answer the phone. Do you understand?" He said he did, and he never called me drunk, on drugs, or after 6PM again.
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:06 AM
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My husband and I used to attend a particular golf-swim-tennis club before he died. People there were well aware of my profession and my caring nature---so, I was continually bombarded by people (usually with drink in hand) who wanted to unload their physical and emotional problems on me. Often asking for my "advice" or to make referrals. This caused me to feel very "used" and interfered with my friendships with them.

I then established a new boundry and it worked beautifully! I would say to them in my most empathetic voice that "I learned a long time ago that most people who ask for advice don't want it, anway. What they want most is to talk and be "seen". So, I don't give advice/professional opinion anymore. And, I never give advice to anyone in the presence of alcohol--cause they don't remember it or don't heed it the next day"

If I do sense that the request is really sincere and urgent---I ask them to call me the next morning and I will see what I can do to help. Example: Girlfriend approached me and whispered that she thinks she found a "lump in her breast"---she was also on her 2nd or 3rd. drink. I hugged her and said, why don't you stop by the house in the morning for coffee and we can talk about it? (I knew she would be stone sober in the morning---and if she really was worried , she would show up).

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Old 08-22-2012, 10:15 AM
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Maybe this will help.

I will not ride in car when the driver is impaired.
I will not lend money unless I don't care if I get the money back.
I will not spend time with people I don't want to spend time with.
I will not do something just because someone is trying to make me feel guilty.
I will not pay attention to other people's advice unless I think it might be worthwhile.
I will not let other people make my choices for me.
I will not say yes when I mean no.
I will not let someone talk me into doing something that I am not willing to do.

I don't need to tell these to anyone, they are for me. Kind of a mental checklist to help me focus on me and to keep me safe and happy.

Your friend,
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:16 AM
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A compulsion to communicate our boundaries to others is usually an indication that it's an attempt to control the other person and not a boundary.

"I will not live with anyone in active addiction/alcoholism or early recovery" is a boundary.

It protects me from the chaos of other people's addictions/alcoholism because I choose not to live with it. It does not attempt to compel other people to change.
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:23 AM
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I really like LTL's link to setting boundaries. The thing that really jumped out at me was that boundary setting is not to be used as a form of manipulation.

"Setting boundaries is not a more sophisticated way of manipulation - although some people will say they are setting boundaries, when in fact they are attempting to manipulate. The difference between setting a boundary in a healthy way and manipulating is: when we set a boundary we let go of the outcome."

Liz, you spoke of setting a boundary that you don't want to live with him if he is drinking.
So--you simply tell him. I don't want to live with you if you continue to drink. You have then expressed that boundary.
The trick is the above--letting go of the outcome. Telling him that won't necessarily change his behavior at all, in fact he may smugly sit back and watch to see what you are going TO DO about it.
How are you going to enforce said boundary?
I see this becoming a power play, a battle of wills, if he chooses to continue to drink, and you don't enforce the boundary with a separation.
The alcoholic will win at power plays. It is one of their fortes.
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:29 AM
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another example which I have done with a person who was always trying to "boss" me was to smile very sweetly and tell them "You have so many ideas of what I need to do--do me a favor and put your ideas on 3X5 cards, and I will look them over at my leisure.

O.K.---a little bit of sarcasm--but when said in a sweet voice, and, with bit of humor--they really get the point! Nobody has submitted any cards--as of yet.

another technique that is a little more confrontational (confrontation is o.k. when warented), is to turn the alanon saying around on them---"What you think I should do is none of my business"-- said with a sympathetic smile, of course

dandylion

helpful hint: You can say almost anything if you say it in the right way!
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:49 AM
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A more concrete example of enforcing a boundry: My oldest son was told that her could not come to my house if he had even one molecule of alcohol in his system. I can tell if he has had even one sip of beer.

He come over and walked into the kitchen. I said "you have been drinking" He said "I have not!". I replied---"That was not a question--that was a statement" "I don't need you to tell me when you have been drinking--I can always tell---and I am always right" I will be glad to see you when you are sober--but please leave now.

Of course, he was furious and left, slamming the front door and muttering under his breath.

He wasn't happy--but, he left.

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Old 08-22-2012, 11:03 AM
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For me... my boundaries are most appropriately expressed by my actions, not my words.

I repeatedly said, "I will not live with active alcoholism"... it wasn't until I packed my stuff up and moved out, that I really showed that I meant it.

I repeatedly said, "I do not like the way you are talking to me."... yet kept participating in the unacceptable exchanges. What spoke volumes was the first time XAH started screaming at me and I said NOTHING in response. I simply stood up and walked away.

With my mother, I have had so many circular conversations with her trying to get her to stop making whatever comments she feels compelled to make... I've learned that ending the call, walking away, whatever is the best way to protect me from the unacceptable comments.

The fact is - we can NOT change other people. They are going to be who they are. We have to decide what WE need to do to live our lives the way we want, and what WE need to do to protect ourselves from something that is not in line with our goals. Boundaries are OUR rules for ourselves - that's why we don't need to communicate them to others.

When we do try to communicate them to others - it's not a boundary... it's an attempt to manipulate and control that other person.
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:34 AM
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Yes, the trick was not in getting other people to honor my boundaries. The trick was learning how to honor them myself.

I've struggled tremendously with boundaries. I'm still learning how to create and honor the intricate boundaries most people don't think about. I'm similar in that I don't communicate my needs/feelings/boundaries and in many cases people do honor them if they know them. I think healthy people make those small communications without much thought.

I like L2L's guideline post and did something very similar when I first came to SR. I used to have the template on my wall and was very methodical about it. It helped a lot.

With regards to the alcoholic husband I did eventually figure out one desperate boundary. The big one. I will not live with alcoholism and all that it entails. My words to him were almost that exactly. He didn't get it of course but that didn't matter. I would do what was needed myself to honor that boundary and in my case that was divorce.

I have lots of similar examples to your second situation with your friend and the airbag. My wish for myself is that someday I can quickly and easily say "I will not talk about xyz with you anymore." and then leave if they do. Depending on who it is I might follow up with "I feel xyz when this topic is discussed with you." It seems so simple, so forth right. I picture people with good friends and good marriages having these open and honest discussion and imagine it to be like that. I really don't know. I sometimes feel like I'll never have a good relationship because I have no freak'n clue what one is. it is all just pretend and make believe to me.

I've made an art of not only ignoring but responding with dead silence. I'm not sure if it is me or the other person (one person in particular) but if I utter one word things spiral like crazy and the dead silence is how I state my choice to not go there. This actually works surprisingly well and in other situations with this person I actually practice some short phrase that I can use to get her to leave the topic alone - and I've turned around and left too, or got of the phone. I need to be more assertive with her but find it hard. She's not very insightful and loves to tell me how I think, how I feel, what I should think and how I should feel, how my kids think and feel, what I should do differently, what I will learn, what I should make other people do :agh: blah blah blah. I should be able to respond to her more assertively but I have a hard time. It works when I do it. Practice practice
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:52 AM
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I'm working through establishing boundaries as well. I have a good friend who seems to know hers in black and white and she is always surprised when I tell her what I've put up with.

My most recent boundary came when I was driving with the xABF and he almost fell asleep at the wheel after having pounded a few beers and smoking some pot before getting in the car. From that moment on I said I would never ride in any car he was driving in when he was drinking.

Now, although that boundary felt good for me to say, when I told my therapist about that today, she praised me for having it but then asked what should I have really done? The answer was I should have dumped him right then and there.

We are so skewed with these AR's that I don't think we take things as serious as we should. I know that when I first started my R with xABF the red flags were there and I knew what my boundaries were then. But, little by little I stopped reinforcing them because he was so good at making me think what he was doing was okay. And, that I was okay.

I did tell him what my boundary was because he wondered why I didn't want to ride in the car with him anymore. But, it also became a challenge for him to see how easily he could break it.
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Old 08-22-2012, 12:34 PM
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I started realizing I needed to set boundaries when other people's behavior was causing me to react in ways I did not want to react. I look at boundaries as ways to help me RESPOND rather than react.

For example, in my family (my teenagers and my RAH) sometimes don't get back to me with information about their schedules so I can plan a family outing. What I have started doing is giving them some time to respond and then if I don't hear anything back, I make the decision, let them know the outcome and then proceed whether or not it is convenient for them. This has resulted in me doing a few activities by myself but once I plan it, I look forward to it and enjoy my time.

I also used boundaries to stop conversations short when they are leading into blame games or manipulation. I simply repeat what I said, indicate that the person is not responding to what I just said and let them know I am not interested in engaging in the conversation if they continue to blame and/or argue around in circles with me. I let them know that we can pick it up later when they are ready to respond to me or share a thought about the topic using an I statement (ie. I feel..., I want..., I don't want...) and not a you statement (ie. you think..., you did ...., you made me....).

Of course this boundary works best when I became more aware of what I was bringing up in conversation and when I make sure I stay on my side of the street.

I believe boundaries are not barriers but they are there to protect us from other people's out of control behavior or inappropriate reactions to who we are.

Just realized you are thinking in terms of your AH and not wanting to live with his drinking. It is truly action but maybe a first step for you might be the behaviors associated with his drinking. Like not riding in the car or letting your son ride in the car. Or not discussing topics or changing your schedule because things got out of whack because of the drinking. Just some thoughts.
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