The topic in today's meeting was boundaries. This is a good topic for me because I didn't learn what boundaries were until I came to Al-Anon. I had boundaries with my work and professional life, but in relationships, I didn't have a clue.
My lack of boundaries was evident from the amount of time and emotional energy I put into relationships. I was willing to sacrifice a lot and give much more than I got. That's definitely not a good thing and indicates my lack of boundaries. I basically let myself experience feelings of caring and love towards a very needy person who was an alcoholic. By not keeping any semblance of a boundary, I lost my own identity by giving so much of myself.
Probably my biggest lack of a boundary came from having an image of the way the perfect relationship is supposed to be. It was a fantasy, yet reality was far from pretty. This resulted in my giving, with the hope of having the fantasy become reality, but it never did. I had a belief that I couldn't fail and if I persisted, all would be okay. So I would keep pushing, hoping to make what I wanted to happen come true. My motivation was fairly simple: I was terrified of being rejected and abandoned.
Through the Al-Anon program and some hard hitting advice from a close AA friend, I've learned that healthy boundaries will allow me to focus on myself, my own needs, and my personal integrity in relationships. By having boundaries, I'm able to have energy to focus on all aspects of my life instead of focusing on one person. I've also learned that I can't have a healthy relationship with my partner if I'm trying to fix or take care of them.
When dealing with those that I care about, I have to work at healthy intimacy but not over-dependency. I've been guilty of being dependent on another and thinking that I needed them in order to feel fulfilled and happy. By focusing on myself and respecting the boundaries of others, I have become more independent and have accepted responsibility for my own happiness. I can't get that from others. I've also learned that I need to be based in reality and accept my relationships for the way they are rather than the way that I want them to be.
One of the issues that I hear a lot when it comes to the alcoholic is that fear of letting go of the control in a relationship stems from thinking that the alcoholic will drink if their needs aren't met by another. This is particularly hard when the alcoholic makes a threat to do something to themselves if boundaries are established.
Fear makes it hard to establish boundaries because you've become a hostage to someone who is needy, helpless and manipulative. This is where Step One is so important because we cannot control or determine the outcome of the life of anyone else no matter how hard we try. The only thing I can control is my own thinking, feeling and actions. I need to hand my relationship partners' problems and needs and the outcomes of their lives over to the HP. Then, I can hope that the alcoholic accepts personal responsibility for their own life and the consequences of their own actions and decisions.