You cannot back down once you begin to change how you interact with alcoholics. Consistency and persistence are very crucial to your success. In other words- don’t give up no matter how much resistance you may have to contend with in relation to the boundaries you’ve set.
Imagine yourself and the boundary as being a large block wall. Every time the alcoholic in your life tries to cross the boundary, they must run into this wall. You have to remain strong and immovable. It’s not easy doing these types of things on your own. This is why I am always suggesting that you get involved with alcoholism-support group meetings.
There were a couple of situations in which I had to stand my ground and was met with great resistance from my alcoholic spouse. Eventually she gave up the fights and the boundaries were never challenged again.
One of the instances involved her inviting friends over to our home to have late night parties while the kids and I were asleep. They generally would start around two in the morning after the bar had closed. After this occurred a few times, I kindly asked her to stop having these mini-parties at our home.
There were two reasons for this:
- The children’s and my sleep were being disrupted by their drunken behaviors.
- We had four children between ages 7 and 15 who I wanted to protect and keep away from being encouraged to participate in that type of lifestyle.
When I first established the boundary, my alcoholic wife tried to disrespect our home and the parameters I had established. As hard as it was for me to address her behavior, I did it anyway.
As soon as the party would begin, I would find her and get her alone for a moment. Then I would re-establish the line and ask her to go somewhere else. Very rarely would she take the party elsewhere. I didn’t argue with her… I just reinforced my position in the matter.
I would say something like: “I asked you nicely to NOT have parties in our home.” I would then go into my room, close the door and try to go back to sleep.
Eventually because of my persistence in continually re-establishing the boundary with her, she started taking the party to a different person’s home. Finally, the children and I didn’t have to be awakened to the sounds associated with people having a party.
The more she met with resistance by hitting the block wall I continued to represent, the weaker her stance became. Eventually I won the battle and peace was established in my home late at night.
Did I have a battle in my mind to contend with- knowing that I didn’t know where she was? Yes! Did I have peace of mind for taking a stance for my children’s well-being and for my own? Yes!
I never said this would be easy. It’s a matter of getting our priorities in order. You have to ask yourself what’s important concerning your belief systems and morals.
Once you know what is important to you as an individual and what is best for the family, you can take a stance against an alcoholic’s unacceptable behavior.
In another incidence, my wife wanted to let our sixteen year old daughter’s boyfriend spend the night at our home. She allowed him to sleep on the couch one night. That was the open door that eventually led to him sleeping in our daughter’s room.
When I discovered what has happening, I had to set the boundary. My wife didn’t agree with me and I had to take a moral stance in our home on my own. This was really difficult because now I had to build the boundary/ block wall to keep three people from dishonoring what I felt was morally correct and honorable within my family and home.
Time and time again they tried to get the boyfriend to spend the night. Repeatedly, I had to meet them with persistence, resistance and consistency. Sometimes he would sneak in-in the wee hours of the morning (2 to 3 am) and I would have to ask him to leave.
There’s a point where a decision has to be made either to let go of a situation or to take a firm stance. Once again, the more I re-established the boundary through consistency and persistence, the less she tried to cross the line.
It’s tough being married to someone who doesn’t share the same moral standards that you do- due to their thinking being distorted by drugs and alcohol.
Letting go of an alcoholic doesn’t mean that we have to become a door mat. Keeping balance between acting in a loving way, letting go of the alcoholic spouse or friend and setting up boundaries takes time to master.
Through participating in alcoholism-support group meetings where you can interact with other members and reading literature designed to equip us to better handle difficult situations- we can learn how to live a better life while still loving the alcoholic.
Setting and reinforcing boundaries with alcoholics is not easy, but these 2 things must be done. The key to your success will be found in being persistent and consistent while establishing them and then reinforcing them.