I just got off the phone with another friend who relapsed.
I am crying.
She is angry.
Angry because she can no longer hide in her addiction? She’s been “busted”? People now know what she’s been doing?
I remember that. People finding out my secrets…my lies.
The worst was when I realized all the lies I had been telling to myself. That broke me.
So…I had to put down some boundaries with her. Fuck I hated boundaries when I was trying to run my game! I hated the people putting them down on me and I fucking HATED the limits that people thought they could PUT ON ME!
I just got in touch with the rage she feels. I just remembered what I felt in early sobriety. Now I understand why she’s so mad at me and at my fucking boundaries.
I busted her game.
So yeah…I did the “right” thing. I did the thing someone with double-digit sobriety is supposed to do: I held her accountable. I let her know that integrity matters. What we say matters. What we tell the people we work with matters. The service positions we hold matter. And, if we continue to drink we don’t get to act like those things don’t matter.
When we drink and drug, the drink and the drug matters more than anything.
I didn’t believe that when I was drinking. I thought I could continue to lie to people, do a shitty job at everything, continue to run my addictions, and no one would notice. WRONG! Everyone noticed. I didn’t hit a bottom. The bottom fell out…and I kept on going down.
I would have died if I hadn’t been stopped.
She was stopped…much to her surprise, annoyance, and inconvenience. Some call it grace. A miracle. A gift. She’s calling it a fucking pain in the ass and she is…
So…I put down some boundaries. Things that I really struggle with. Things that I have someone from a Program to help me with. Things that I have a Program to help me with. Things that I am scared of myself. And I am so grateful that I have them in my life today. As scared and sad as I was to put them down with her, I knew I was doing the best thing for her and I the whole time I was putting them down. Through my tears, I knew I was helping her…and me. I knew I couldn’t enable her and her disease anymore. As much rage as she spat back at me, I could continue to tell her I loved her because I MEANT IT. I wasn’t putting limits down as REVENGE, or SPITE, or CONTROL. I was putting these boundaries down because…
I love her
and I love me
and I love the people she works with
and I love the Program
and I love the HOPE of who she can be
and I LOVE the person she was before she relapsed
and I LOVE the person she is inside – who is scared and screaming for help behind her alcoholism.
If you have someone in your life who is SUFFERING with an addiction, I hope you can love them and you enough to put boundaries down and stop enabling THE DISEASE and THE BEHAVIORS that support THE DISEASE.
In my last post, “Sober Friend of an Alcoholic/Addict” I listed some of the behaviors of someone who is acting out in their addiction. Here is a list of some of the boundaries I (and you) can put down with the alcoholic and/or addict in your life so you can stop enabling THE BEHAVIORS that support THEIR DISEASE:
- Take away all financial responsibilities for money that is not their own. If they didn’t make the money, they can’t have the money. (I’ve seen exceptions to this with people who are mentally ill, incapacitated, and/or very wealthy. In which case, legal measures are taken.)
- Cut off all financial support. No more funding THE DISEASE.
- Take away all care-taking responsibilities from this person. They are not taking good care of themselves. Why should they be trusted to take care of anyone else? This includes children, the elderly, and the disabled (in any way). Also, strongly recommend that they no longer work with those who are trusting them for guidance (sponsees in a 12-Step program).
- Do not allow this person access to places where they may act irrational (i.e. – Someone’s home, work place, school, etc.) Obtain the proper locks, restraining orders, notices to the school, etc. so that there are no excuses for this boundary to be broken.
- Block the person’s phone number and all social media accounts.
- Verbal boundaries, if their behavior is not requiring any of the extreme boundaries listed above. Things like, “If you yell at me – even in public – I will walk away.”
- Have a vehicle so that leaving a party is an option if this person’s behavior becomes out of control or embarrassing.
- Here are some other people’s stories that you may find helpful: “How do you deal with unacceptable behavior?”
I would be grateful if you have any more boundaries to add to this list – from your personal experience – that you add them in the “Comments” section below for the readers/visitors to this site.
In closing, I want to give HOPE.
I know I did what was best for my friend…and for my own sobriety. I know that I can’t have an active alcoholic in my life. I’ve had a rough couple of weeks…with two of my closest friends going back out. I’m grieving. I’m having to do things I NEVER thought I would have to do with two people I love more than I can write about.
I’m having to let them go…and face the fact that they may die from this disease.
Source: ShonEjai on Pixabay
So where’s the HOPE?? Here it is…
- I’M STILL SOBER! I don’t have to go down with others anymore! I’m not as codependent as I used to be! ALLELUIA!!!
- I get to hand them over to something WAY more powerful than me. I believe that is LOVE…and it does amazing things! I have faith in that. I actually feel much better when I let that thought in.
- I’m not going to sit back and do nothing! Now the real work begins! I get to pray for them (which I believe REALLY works). I get to take very good care of myself by going to meetings, working with those who WANT recovery, practicing what I preach, and working out my “spiritual muscles” so that if my friends do come back, I’ll be ready for them! And, if they don’t come back…I’ll be strong enough to handle the pain of their loss.
This is recovery. This is life. This is sobriety.
And it DEFINITELY does not suck. 😉