Saturday, November 24, 2007


Sigh. I guess I need to call my sponsor.

I'm struggling with those complicated borderlands between boundaries and control, acceptance and accepting unacceptable behavior, keeping quiet to keep my sanity and keeping quiet to keep a false sense of peace.

A few weeks ago, we'd reached a breaking point in our marriage. He'd gone to stay with his folks, and I'd taken his key to my home. I needed some time to think about what it was going to take for him to be welcome to stay here, and I came up with a few things, a few boundaries that are necessary for my sanity, for my comfort living with someone who has been in and out of active addiction and who has entangled me in all the insanity that comes along with it. I told him that he needs to be able to pay his own way, including both paying for his own methadone and paying half of our bills, and that I needed to see outward signs of recovery, beyond going to the methadone clinic. I need to see him attending meetings, working steps, building community, having a sponsor.

His response to these requests was to find a job, the next day, and to bring me money for groceries. He told me that he can do the things I need, that not only can he do them, but that he realizes that these are things that are vital for his own survival. Without a job and without some recovery in his life, he says that he knows he isn't going to make it, regardless of what happens to our marriage.

The job isn't perfect; it's only going to last for two or three months. It is, however, a job, and it's paying his bills and paying for his methadone. For the first time in almost a year, he's being a true partner, at least financially. That's a wonderful thing, and I'm grateful.

And he has been lackadaisically attending the meetings that are held in conjunction with the Nar-Anon meetings that I attend. He gets in the car, he goes with me, he listens and talks to the folks in his group. He has not sought out a sponsor, and he hasn't looked for a different group. Last week, he blew off one of the meetings because he wanted to hang out with his father. It made me furious.

So what I'm struggling with is where, exactly, it is that I've placed my boundary, and what my boundary means. I suppose that attending one or two meetings a week is better than never doing anything. I hope that he will continue to build relationships, and he'll find a sponsor (one that accepts his methadone maintenance...there has been some controversy at the N.A. meetings he's attended), and he'll fully engage the program. I don't know if he will...especially as he is doing well with his methadone and feeling very "fixed."

Part of me wants to yell and cry and tell him he's not doing enough. Part of me wants to ignore it. I don't know what would be right, and I don't know what it is that I want.

What I am most afraid of is that he will fall apart again, relapse, and that without the support and tools that he can gain from recovery, it will be another long, hard fall. I am afraid that we'll be on this roller coaster forever, and that he's not going to be a person who I can spend the rest of my life with. I'm afraid I'm letting myself down by letting him off the hook for one of the boundaries I set in order for us to continue in this relationship. I'm afraid that I'm borrowing trouble by worrying about his recovery when I'm knee-deep in the muck of my own. I'm afraid that if I don't worry about his recovery, nobody else will.

I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.


Wayward Son said...

It sounds like your partly satisfied and partly not. How does he respond when you just tell him how your happy on one hand and not so happy on the other? That's a rhetorical question because the answer is none of my business but, still, I pose the question for you to ponder.

However it works out, it will work out... for the best. I tell myself this every day and more and more I believe it—not completely absolutely, but more today than I did yesterday.

Jeremiah Andrews said...

This is a really heavy blog. Boundaries, I guess we are no good to anyone sick, dead or using right?

If we don't take care of us first we cannot take care of others. If he can't get straight, and stay clean or want to work at clean time, that is his decision not yours.

Your marriage was in danger long ago I suspect, only reading this page itself. But if you are in danger then you are my first concern that you are safe, and sound.

I know what it is like to be a junky out of control. I've got the scars and the t-shirt. And I know what it is like to be the husband of someone in early recovery.

I am glad to call you friend, please pardon me if I spoke out of turn or if i offended. It seems you have a lot on your plate.

Be well and take care of you


At the Evolution of Jeremiah

Chris said...

I'm sorry, it just seems like after a while, he would get it. Sounds like he is doing all of this for you, and not for himself.And that won't work.You did not take him to raise, he knows the boundries, but barely is putting forth any effort, you are a better woman than me, I would have had to move on a long time ago. Time after time after time, he should know by now what he needs to do. If he wants to, that is. I think that is the problem, he just dosen't seem to want to. You need to work on yourself, you have it figured out, seems like he is just holding you back. What price Love???? Please don't take what I said in the wrong way, I know you love him, I would just hate for you to loose yourself in all this....You're too strong for that I know, but boundries are boundries,and he of all people should know what they are by now. I pray for you both.....

Recovery Discovery said...

Man, do I get this. What's taking care of me? What's controlling behavior? I always say that I really believe in the serenity prayer. I just have a hard time figuring out what's mine. Hang in there.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I find negotiating boundary issues incredibly hard -- the difference between maintaining healthy boundaries and using boundaries as an excuse for control is so small. Often it's just a difference of perspective or mindset. Hope your magical sponsor is able to help! said...

I'm thinking that this specific boundary might be the most important one when you are thinking long-term. You want G to be sober long-term, to become healthy, to not rely on drugs when something goes wrong...

And it sounds as if meth might be his easy way out. Something where he doesn't have to work so hard, just take a pill and be "healthy"; or fixed. Which is why he might see the meetings as "unimportant" - after all, he is fixed, isn't he?

I feel as if this is one boundary that you need to insist on... for his own good, and for your own peace of mind. Because he isn't fixed, even if he thinks he is. You need him to be fixed from the inside, not just for a couple of months or weeks, but fixed for life, eventually.

I have no advice on how to implement those boundaries... but I'm thinking of you.

The Discovering Alcoholic said...

This post, although I know it is one of distress, brings me much hope.


There is honesty and understanding here, no easy answers, but you know where the answers lie regardless of how painful they may be.

Anonymous said...

Don't mean to but in here but have you seen Babs? I was just a bit worried. Thanks.

Chloe said...

ahh boundaries. I always remind myself that boundaries are somewhat flexible. What you got to watch out for is building walls. Walls totally protect you, but then you're all alone. If you get a chance, read from ODAT on 9/13.
That reading really helped me alot.

woman.anonymous7 said...

Boundaries - something I've learned about only recently with respect to Husband.

I am still working on this. Right now I have one firm boundary with respect to recovery. The next time he has sex with another woman, he has to move out of our home.

He doesn't know about this boundary. My boundaries are to protect my health, happiness and quality of life, and not to guide his life, so I don't necessarily tell him. But I have told my support system this boundary so I can count on them to remind me if he relapses in that way and I say, " hurts but it's in the past and I want to move forward, blah, blah, blah..."

My support system can say to me, "When you were not in the throes of pain and chaos, here's what you said would work for you, and here's what you said would not. Sex with other women doesn't work for you, and what you planned to do was to ask him to move out."

When I'm thinking about boundaries, I try to use my own happiness as a guideline. What can I be happy with? If x were happening right now, would I be happy? When the answer is no, I see someplace I can draw a boundary.

As far as flexing my boundaries, I think I'd do that for myself (if the answer to the Would-I-be-happy question changed from no to yes) but not to accommodate someone else or their behavior. It's too easy for me to slip into my codie tendencies.

As for relapsing, it will happen or it won't. His process is his process. If the result he's getting from his process is working for you in your life right now, then good. If the result he's geting from his process isn't working in your life right now, then it's in your court (pardon the use of stupid sports metaphors) to address that if you want to.

What feels most effective for me with Husband is when I communicate(pardon the use of overused psych language) what works for me and what doesn't. That leaves his shit uncriticized. He's still free to make his own choices. But at the same time, he understands what I want and need. And I think as his partner I owe him that...he deserves to know how I feel and what I want so that he has a chance to succeed. (Hmm...maybe I should tell him about the sex-with-other-women boundary. As you can see, I still struggle.)

I hope this long response will be of some help or at least comfort. I share your interest in boundaries and relapses, so your post really got me thinking.

Wishing you serenity, courage and wisdom!