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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

What are Boundaries in Recovery?

Early in the process it can be frustrating to figure out what a boundary is, how to create boundaries that will be effective, and most importantly, how to reinforce our boundaries when they are threatened or violated. Like any new skill, it may take several clumsy but well-meaning attempts before we begin to learn how to apply even the most basic principles. The important thing to remember is, as with any skill, the more we practice, the easier it gets and the more proficient we become.

A common misconception, which often goes unchallenged, relates to the idea that boundaries are meant to somehow teach a lesson to the one with the addiction. We mistakenly believe that the more harsh our consequences and the more strict our expectations, the more they will see how serious we are and “snap out of it.” It doesn’t take long to realize that, sadly, the monster which is controlling them has no interest in learning anything from us at all. Therefore, our efforts must be turned towards protecting ourselves and those in the path of their destruction.

Do not try to go about establishing boundaries in recovery on your own for the first time. Let those who specialize in this deadly disease guide you through the process until you feel comfortable enough to stand on your own.

For more on setting boundaries, check out this great resource https://brightonrecoverycenter.com/boundaries-in-recovery/

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Posted by on in Recommended Reading

A few months ago a staff member of the NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) Community Outreach program contacted me to write an article for publication in their Parents Family Network magazine, Making Connections. The subject matter was intimacy and eating disorders.

Although I'm not one to share rather personal information, I accepted the offer believing some aspect of this topic would spring to mind. In a haze of contemplation I found myself mindlessly staring at my wedding rings when all of a sudden the winds of wisdom blew through me. Suddenly my fingers flew rapidly over the computer keyboard like a well-choreographed dance to create what was eventually titled, "The Ring".

I thought I'd share the original piece here as I believe the message is worth repeating.

Intimacy is a connection; a sense of silent knowing of the thoughts and feelings of another which radiates from deep in the heart. 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Being in an intimate relationship in sobriety is difficult to say the least.  Relationships are like steroids for my character defects; they cause them to grow more powerful than I imagined possible.  From jealousy to control issues, my need to be right to my need to know everything, my character defects really come to light in relationships.  However, being in a relationship has taught me a lot, and my growth has been great.

Keys to My Healthy Relationship

With my character defects glaring me in the face in this relationship, I have found several important keys to keeping the relationship strong and healthy.  As with the rest of my recovery, I must remain vigilante with myself in order to sustain this healthy relationship.

Communication

The first, and most important, tool in my healthy relationship is communication.  Communication is an absolutely indispensable tool in my relationship.  Obviously, this applies in the sense of not lying, straightforward nor by omission.  However, communicating goes much further than telling the truth.

In order to maintain a healthy relationship, communication must go both ways.  I must walk through my (often irrational) fears, and be able to communicate how I feel.  Remaining considerate of her feelings, I tell her how I feel, whether I am upset (with her or not), happy, anxious, or dealing with something.  She is not my sponsor, nor is she my Higher Power.  However, she is an integral part of my support network.  Furthermore, when I hold things in too much, it closes off my heart to her.  As my heart fills with fear and resentment, my capacity to love is diminished.  As I become able to tell her how I feel and what is going on with me, it frees my heart up to be filled with love.  It is not always easy, as fears of being judged, not being enough, and driving her away do arise.  However, I consistently walk through these fears, and each time the fears are easier to overcome.

Also, I must be open to communication from her end.  As important as talking is to communication, so is listening.  When she speaks to me, whether it is a casual conversation or something more serious, I make a diligent effort to listen mindfully.  My reactions are not always compassionate and loving, and it is something I am consciously working on.  I find that as I listen with more mindfulness, I am able to respond with more compassion rather than reacting with fear.  When I react with fear, I am not encouraging a safe, open environment.  Just as I go through fears sharing my feelings, so does she.  It is not within my control whether or not she will be open and honest with me, but it is within my control to encourage a safe space to nurture the love rather than the fear.

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