Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Boundaries

I have a difficult time with boundaries.  For years, I operated as if I had none, and I let myself play the victim to the hilt.  (Poor me, poor me... pour me another drink.)

Today I am aware that I need to have boundaries, and in some areas, I've established some pretty solid ones, but in other areas, I continue to struggle.

I think a lot of my uncertainty and hesitancy stems from not really having a clear perspective on what a healthy balance looks like when it comes to being available, helpful, caring and compassionate versus taking care of myself and not allowing myself to become a doormat.

The newcomer I mentioned previously is quickly becoming a source of irritation, frustration, anger and resentment for me.  She seems to have ZERO boundaries when it comes to asking for help and favors.  And, what I feared regarding my setting an unhealthy precedent by agreeing to go way out of my way to help her this past Saturday seems to be materializing rapidly.

And she has no clue.  I won't go into the details, but yesterday was a complete waste for me due to this woman and her demands, expectations, and complete ignorance of basic human courtesy (e.g., calling someone to tell them you no longer need a ride before they call you while en route to pick you up!).  I'm frustrated and irritated with her, and I'm more frustrated and irritated with myself for feeling helpless and not knowing how to handle this situation.

I don't think this woman is even aware  that she is doing or expecting anything unreasonable.  I don't think it even occurs to her to consider how her expectations, actions, and demands impact others.  She is so wrapped up in what she's going through right now that she cannot entertain awareness of anything else.

I get that.  I have sympathy and compassion for her and for her current emotional, physical, spiritual and mental state.  I realize that especially in the beginning, the focus has to be on self and getting better.  In the beginning, it is a ME program, and it is a selfish program, and it needs to be that way.  I see and feel and hear her desperation, and the fact that right now, it's literally one moment at a time for her, and that just getting to that NEXT moment demands heroic determination and focus, to the exclusion of any outside distractions.

I am truly grateful and happy that she HAS that desperation, that she wants a life of release and freedom so badly that she is willing to go to any lengths get it.  Really, truly, I am.

I can overlook a lot her behavior, her apparent lack of consideration for anyone else, and attribute it to the fact that she is desperate and new.  She also seems to be having some real cognitive and physical problems that I guess may be resulting from withdrawal from alcohol or pills or whatever she was on (hell, it could be crack-cocaine or heroin; I don't know, because she hasn't told me a damn thing!).

Aha.

And now we get to the root of the real issue underneath my frustration and anger.  This newcomer has asked me, without the slightest hesitation or reservation, to turn my life upside down to accommodate her, yet she hasn't shared the FIRST THING about her issues and addiction(s), her emotional state -- her story -- with me.

If you want me to turn my life upside down to accommodate you and your needs, at least trust me enough to open the door a tiny, teensy crack, to allow me to begin to get a glimpse of who your are and how I can help you as you face your fears.  Throw me a bone.  Show me that you want to trust me, even if trust is generally impossible for you right now.  If I see that you want to trust me -- even if you can't trust me or anyone else yet -- chances are, I'll bend over backwards and leap through hoops to help you.

If you refuse to open yourself to me even a tiny bit -- if you continually put up a wall, yet conversely and constantly make demands on my time and energy -- I will shut down.

And, eventually, I will shut you out.  Out of my thoughts, out of my of day, out of my sobriety and my recovery.  Out of my life.

Not out of anger or frustration or irritation, or lack of empathy or sympathy, but out of an instinct for self-preservation.

Because, even after a few years, even after we begin to see that this is a WE program, it still is -- and needs to remain -- a ME program.  If I do not first protect and take care of myself and my sobriety, I really cannot be of help to anyone else.

Where is that balance?

I guess more will be revealed...

2 comments:

~ Tabitha ~ said...

I am back..just going to bed..but I will be back to read this post,PJ.
Thanks for checking in on me.xo

Mary Christine said...

I guess you will get to work on your boundaries. Certainly turning your life upside down for someone else who may or may not be serious about getting sober is something that you probably don't want to do. But what the heck do I know?