Boundaries are the invisible rolls of caution tape we put up around our limitations emotionally, mentally, financially, and physically.
Though others can’t see our boundaries, they can hear them and know them through our communication, as well as our actions. For people with an addicted loved one, these boundaries can be difficult to set, even though they may mean the difference between life and death.
“Set boundaries even when you’re scared, and when it doesn’t feel comfortable to do. Eventually setting boundaries will happen naturally for you,” writes author of Codependent No More, Melody Beattie. Codependency isn’t the only reason we feel intimidated to set boundaries. In a million different ways, it might have been demonstrated to us that separating ourselves from other people, standing up for ourselves, distinguishing our self-worth, asking for our needs to be met, or simply saying “No” brought us great pain, suffering, and feelings of isolation. We start learning lessons about boundaries from a young age from the way other people set them with us, but we don’t necessarily learn lessons about what boundaries are, why boundaries matter, and what boundaries we want to set with others in our life. If we grew up with an addicted parent or have lived in the tornado of addiction for a long time, these lessons become ever harder to learn. As a result, we live a life full of too-flexible or too-rigid lines separating ourselves from others, our feelings from others, and sometimes our bodies from others.
Living in this chronic state becomes normal for us. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
The idea of setting a boundary, of saying no, or of asking for something different for ourselves, is completely alien to most family members with a loved one in early recovery. Often, we fear the outcome of setting boundaries, especially if we are tiptoeing around the disease of addiction. We’re afraid of the consequences, both good and bad because the results are so foreign to what we know. Just like Melody Beattie points out, setting boundaries is a practice we take on even when we’re scared or uncomfortable. By continuously setting boundaries, we build our self-esteem, we gain our confidence, and we believe in our worth of having boundaries to begin with. We watch people’s reactions and realize that the people who can’t honor and respect our boundaries have their own pain, their own work to do, and may come to have a different place in our lives. Such boundaries can be instrumental in ending enabling behavior that keeps addiction alive.
Eventually, boundaries become a natural experience for us. From this place of freedom, our lives, our relationships, and our recovery – whether from codependency or addiction itself – can improve exponentially.
Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1296.