Last time I talked about my dilemma concerning Ryan’s release from prison in a couple of weeks. Do I phone him (as promised) or do I impose the ultimate boundary – total withdrawal? Feeling sad and full of trepidation last week, I was desperate to get things off my chest so I contacted Bee, my counsellor. We explored how I’d feel if I didn’t phone Ryan, as I really don’t like breaking promises to my son. Bee suggested that if I phone, I could explain I’m no longer able to be part of his ongoing mayhem and that there are things in life that I need to pursue for myself. This is one route to that final boundary; another being not making the call which means Ryan would contact my husband who’d have to deliver the bad news. Neither option appeals to me much and I still feel conflicted. But my chat with Bee has made one thing crystal clear: the question is not about phoning or not phoning; it’s about fully withdrawing, or not, from Ryan. I think the phone call was a red herring that my mind chose to focus on, rather than the real issue.
Support group has taught me a lot about boundaries over the years. The best way I can describe them is to imagine you and your addict living together in a small house. Day in, day out, their chaos becomes yours: not holding down a job, getting into debt with dealers, begging you for money, verbally and/or physically abusing you, being rushed to A&E full of drink or drugs, and the list goes on. Now imagine taking back control by putting in a boundary; I’ll call it Boundary One: maybe a tent goes in the garden where your addict has to sleep, still with access to your house for essentials. However, the chaos still finds you so time for Boundary Two: six weeks for your addict to move into a bedsit, and you pay for food and rent. But the chaos still finds you so on to Boundary Three: you supply rent but no food. And so on. This is a path that I have trodden for years.
Putting in boundaries, one by one, has allowed me to withdraw from Ryan’s chaos and get my life back. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be in any fit mental state to write this blog today if I hadn’t taken my support group’s advice to use them, so I’m a great fan. The flip side being the more you step back, the more you have to deal with not knowing what’s happening to your addict and that in itself is a tricky one to deal with. But maybe more on that later. For now, I’m grappling with the idea that I might have to put in the toughest of all boundaries because I can’t deal with Ryan’s chaos any more. I think I’ll be having another chat with Bee tomorrow as I want to make a decision by the end of the week. Thanks for reading and any thoughts on boundaries are very welcome.