Friday, June 1, 2012

Strange days

I have had a strange couple of days.  My friend who helps out on the boat, and I had a disagreement over a boat project.  He has gradually been exerting more and more control over things that are done on the boat.  I know that it's because he admires the boat and has helped with several projects, including the painting of the decks.

The latest project is being done by a couple of women woodworkers who my wife and I were referred to by others who had seen their work.  They are making doors for the companionway entrance that have smoky Lexan in them so that more light may enter below during the winter.  My friend doesn't like these women and made derogatory remarks to me about them.  He wanted to make the doors.  The problem is that he isn't a finishing carpenter and also comes up with many ideas but doesn't see them through.

So on Wednesday evening, I had a long discussion with him about the control he has been exerting over boat projects.  He does not see his part in things and puts the blame on me, telling me that he knows so much more.

Over the last few years, I see a man who used to be a part of the AA fellowship but has now drifted away from meetings and friends.  He is not drinking but unhappy with just about everything.  I have given him work on the boat because that is the one thing that seems to bring him pleasure.  But I am now suffering the consequences of my lack of establishing firm boundaries.

Yesterday,  I felt the all too familiar feelings of defeat, despondency, and self-pity.  It was so similar to what I have felt after trying to convince my wife to stop drinking when she was already drunk.  Pointless to try, insanity on my part.  I called the trainer and said that I wasn't coming into the gym.  "I'm not feeling well" was my excuse and half-lie.  I wasn't feeling well, but not because of a physical sickness.  It was the realization that I had let the same old behaviors drive me down emotionally.

After some meditation, a cup of coffee, and a good hot shower, I went to the boat and began work on polishing the bronze cowls, stripping off old varnish, and doing odds and ends.  My friend showed up, apologized for his behavior and words, and stating that he had overstepped his "place" by exerting too much control.  I clearly stated my boundaries, and then we went to work on polishing and scrubbing.  We actually had a few laughs, and the tension eased between us.

I know that this is just a reprieve because the behavior will occur again.  I'm not going to plan what to do now.  I believe that my Higher Power will help when the time comes.  I'm turning my friend over to his own HP.  And I'm going to make the most of today because it is all I have.
Thinking of K. today who took her life on this date two years ago. 


  1. I like it when I have set my boundaries clearly in the beginning and then I can just go back to them when problems arise from someone pushing to get past them. I can be a broken record if I need to be, reiterating the boundary until it is honored...."but remember I said __________ and I haven't changed my mind."

  2. we all need to trust our HP will get us through the rough times. sounds like that happen. Hugs for you friend K.

  3. I think setting clear boundaries is key. Try not to project, too much. Enjoy the present. :)

  4. I like that my recovery does not depend on one day or one incident. It's been about building upon each day that offers me a new opportunity to grow and awaken. I remember you writing about K. That was painful, and I'm touched to see her honored today by the pic. Thanks syd.

  5. I don't know the whole story, but I would accept the apology at face value.

    Maybe he felt he was losing your friendship, and that makes some people act very needy.

    I hope you post photos of the finished boat, it sounds wonderful!

  6. Oh Syd. Such things are so hard. And so upsetting. Even after all these years in life and in Alanon, they are hard for you and I understand.
    But I think you chose the right tools and you did what you had to do and you came through to the other side.
    I admire you.
    I can't believe it's been two years since K. died. I remember that.
    Thinking of you gently.

  7. "... comes up with many ideas but doesn't see them through...."...

    sounds like me!!

  8. i am glad you were able to cut that tension and reset your boundaries...that is def a good thing and a much better position...

  9. It never fails to amaze me how we AA people lose direction and common sense when we drift away from the program.
    At least you were able to show him where he went wrong and sounds like he might have heard you.

  10. Handing the ones around us over to their HP is one of the many gifts that I'm grateful for in Al-Anon. I didn't have that before this program... For me, when I can detach and set those health boundaries is when the miracles happen the most. Keeping you in my prayers my friend.

  11. Sounds like a rough couple of days but you took steps to change that. I hope this is more than just a reprieve.

    So sorry about your friend K.

  12. My first thought about these odd days is how you let them be a chance to use tools that you know. You didn't back down, you just did something different. You handled things. Nicely done.

  13. Not easy Syd -- to set boundaries with someone who does not respect boundaries.

  14. You know Syd I don't pity you in the least. BUT I am sorry that you had such a hard upbringing and experiences that left you so wounded. You really seem like a nice man, one I'd be glad to share a table with and a cup of coffee (as long as I was buying and you were using my get one free coupon. It gives you those expensive foo foo drinks with whipped cream and all which wouldn't be good for my glucose levels).

    I was seriously bullied as a kid and i went 180 degrees in the opposite direction once I grew to 6' 250 pounds...I punished everyone, especially them who were caught by me bullying someone else.

    If you know the behavior will return why wait for it, cut the dude loose and think on it no more.

  15. Syd,

    I don't post very often, but please know that I continue to get so much from reading your blog. I'm not feeling very clear today, but just wanted to tell you that your words frequently help and comfort me. Particularly on those days when it all feels like too much.


  16. I think you handled that well Syd, and I can totally relate to your feelings after the confrontation. It can be exhausting, and then we blame ourselves for not standing up for ourselves in the first place. I go through this with my immediate family from time to time, at least you realize that it will indeed happen again, I take my hat off to you for that one. I tend to sometimes live in the fantasy that "this time will be different" , and afterwards I feel the despondency that you describe. Such is living and learning life. I guess if this is my biggest problem today, life is pretty good. Thanks for this post and I'm sorry for the loss of your friend two years ago.

  17. Hmmmm, Syd - - - I noticed one thing absent from your First Aid Kit of Serenity / Help tools: USE THE PHONE!

    Glad you ended up peacefully.

    Anonymous #1

  18. SYD, your maturity inspires me--the way you deal with these situations. I wonder if you asked him if he would want to go to a meeting. the either take him, or arrange it...rather than 'know' it will happen again.

    "Where there is breathing, there is hope"!

  19. Steve, I do meet him at open AA meetings. He finds something wrong with just about every one--too many druggies and not enough real alcoholics. Restless, irritable and discontent sums it up.


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