Just turn me loose Let me straddle my old saddle underneath the western skies On my cayuse Let me wander over yonder till I see the mountains rise I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences Gaze at the moon until I loose my senses I Can't look at hobbles and I can't stand fences
"Don't push!" - how frequently do you hear a wayward or addict say this to push back at a family member who has had enough bad behavior? I heard it all of my childhood. My mom would be begging my dad to stop drinking because it made him an abusive SOB.
Or how about this one: "I can handle myself. This is different."?
Ironic that a song sung at my dad's funeral a year ago this month was about avoiding boundaries. "Bind me not to the pasture, chain me not to the plow. Set me free to find my calling and I'll return to you somehow."
Truly boundaries are self-imposed. An addict who chooses recovery sets boundaries upon themselves. "Bottom lines" where they won't go near in order to stay sober. A mentally ill person who recognizes where they start to go off the rails also imposes boundaries on themselves. John Nash, as portrayed in "A Beautiful Mind" recognized that some of the characters in his life never aged. That's how he began to recognize real from delusion. He also recognized that the delusional characters showed up more when he was solving mathematical patterns/problems. So he avoided indulging. He avoided stepping off that ledge.
A wayward who wants recovery might ask his/her betrayed spouse for suggestions but it's truly up to them to take extraordinary precautions.
A man who has betrayed his wife through a secret second life might have a list of extraordinary precautions that goes like this:
Wife has passwords to all email accounts, online discussion boards, and has a complete list of places I go online and is free and welcome to read what I write.
I have no memberships in fantasy boards or games anymore.
I limit my time online recovery meetings and conversations to one hour per day, and face-to-face is preferred to online.
I limit one-to-one recovery relationships/conversations to same gender only, to avoid any emotional investments in any relationships outside of my family, particularly my wife, and a circle of friends that WE choose together. Even then, there is no one-to-one investment, but rather a group comradery.
My day is filled with purpose-driven activity: earning a livelihood to provide and care for my family, study from scriptures and other good books, and companionship activities with my wife, and family activities.
I recognize that I'm not immune to the trap of receiving love bank deposits from people other than my wife; and that when I allow others to invest in me emotionally, I'm harming them, but more importantly, I am robbing my wife of the ability to meet my needs.
The very act of repeatedly interacting one-to-one with other women, especially in recovery groups leaves me vulnerable to falling short on other amends and extraordinary precautions, which robs my wife of the opportunity and reasons to admire me and meet my needs.
These are boundaries a wayward seeking recovery can impose on himself. But what about the wife who's husband had not reached the point of valuing the marriage sufficiently to impose boundaries upon himself?
Her boundaries might look completely different - like an ever increasing hard line approach. She has to reach the point of recognizing that he who cares the least about the marriage has the most power. And while she may not want to harm the marriage, she must recognize that she doesn't have a marriage with a man who neglects to impose boundaries upon himself to protect her and the marriage.
She must take responsibility for her own boundaries, as painful as this might be to her. So her corresponding list might look like this:
I will not pay for internet that harms my family.
I will not support a man who has a secret second life, either on the internet, on the phone, or in face to face. And I will not live under the same roof with a man who feels entitled to these things.
I will exercise daily and take care of my body, mind and heart through healthy eating, breathing, thinking and living.
I will speak the truth, and find a way to do so in a way that is free of lovebusters, while at the same time stepping into the conflict rather than avoiding it.
I cannot support a husband financially who is not earning at least a baseline income through whatever legal means possible. An unemployed husband must be out of the house looking for work 9 hours a day, as if he were working full time. There is plenty of temp agency work where he can find placement for any day he doesn't have permanent work lined up. If he won't impose this kind of effort requirement upon himself, he will need to find another place to live until he decides to be a husband.
Truthfully, this list is just off the top of my head and what's on my mind at the moment. There are many more boundaries that I haven't defined for both sides here.
When I think about fences and boundaries, the truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as being completely free of boundaries. Either we impose boundaries and fence ourselves into living right, or we take on the bondage of addiction, poverty, isolation, and eventually a very lonely death.
Consider that we don't have to live with the consequences of our advice in your life. Act according to what you can live with!
I said something in therapy a while back, and I keep on thinking back on it. Now this was in context to a very heavy therapy session, so keep that in mind. I said "I don't ever feel safe. I don't think I ever really have" The therapist and my DH were blown away by that, but I realize that the reason I feel that way is that I lack the skills to keep MYSELF safe. Boundary skills are something I never learned, and desperately need. Counting on others to keep me safe is NEVER going to result in me actually feeling like I AM safe. Being personally responsible for my own safety is the key to all of it.
When we open to this moment and don't judge it or try to change it, even when we're suffering and wish it were otherwise, we tap into the spaciousness of mind that allows us to move forward skillfully, with discernment and joy. -- Sharon Salzberg