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Post Info TOPIC: Boundaries and trying to stay in my lane


Veteran Member

Status: Offline
Posts: 49
Date:
Boundaries and trying to stay in my lane


Hi - Im struggling with a situation and would welcome any ESH.

i have been separated from my X-AH for 5 years, divorced for 1.5 yrs. his drinking and Xanax use were big issues.  he was a zombie or mean and biting for the last few years. Denied having a proglem with substances. Refused to get help or do counseling together around issue of substances and its effect on our family. I did a lot of Al-anon work and it has really helped me tremendously. 

We share a 22 year old daughter who has Aspergers syndrome or high functioning autism. Shes smart and highly functional but struggles with depression and anxiety, and her transition to adulthood is at a slower pace than other kids her age.  C lives with me, and visits with her dad periodically for 2-3 weeks at a time, but hasnt been there in over 6 months. He lives in the same town about 5 minutes away. Before he moved out, she was well aware of his drinking and xanax issue, saw a lot of unpleasant scenes, was relieved when he moved out. 

Since he moved out, he has told C that he has stopped drinking. This, of course, is not true. He has told me that he has not. C is sensitive to anything critical I might say About her dad so I am very careful not to be critical. I work hard at trying to let her have her own relationship with him, and figure that she Is smart enough to see who he really is. Still, she loves him, wants to believe what he tells her, and he is convincingly sincere. You would not know the reality unless you SAW the reality. I think C believes that his alcohol problem is in the past. And I think he really has shown her a really good side since weve been apart. So shes had good experiences when with him and has not seen him drinking. 

I hate when he tells me one thing and her another. I know he lies a lot to her. But unless I feel that her safety is at issue, I dont say anything. If she asks what I think, I tell her honestly. But its tricky. I try to return to the thought that its HER relationship with him and i have nothing to do with that at this point unless her safety  is at stake. 

Here is my current problem. C wanted to go stay with him for two weeks. Fine, I said, work it out with him and whatever you decide is fine with me. He calls me, says C cannot come to stay. He tells me that he is doing badly. Struggling with anxiety and depression. Drinking is out of control again, and is drinking every morning to stop morning tremors. Still taking Xanax daily too to manage anxiety. Says his girlfriend and his dr are strongly urging rehab Which he anticipates doing in December when his school is on winter break - he is a college prof. So, I say ok, sorry to hear that, rehab sounds like a good idea, and he should tell C himself that she cant come. He says he will tell her about rehab when the time is closer. 

Last week he told her that he was having a difficult time with depression and anxiety, not a good time to come. he did not tell her about drinking and rehab. She seems fine with not going now, but her generalized anxiety has spiked. I guess not surprising. 

But immediate problem: C does not drive. Every Friday she has a horseback riding lesson, and it has long been the practice  that her dad drives her to that... its usually the one time each week she sees him. Knowing he is drinking and taking Xanax every morning and how that makes him dull and zombie-like, I do not think its safe for him to drive her. He drives daily to and from work and despite having had several one-car, driving-off-of-the-road type accidents, insists that hes fine and driving is not an issue. I am at present feeling that he is not safe to drive her. He thinks he is. 

I have been thinking to tell C that I have some concerns and that Ill drive her and he can meet her there. If she asks why, do I tell her what he has told me about his drinking and drug use? I dont want to bad mouth him to her. If I say that he has told me things that make me feel that itd be better for me to drive her right now, Im concerned she will think Im inventing trouble. I have thought about telling him that in my view shes not safe in a car with him until he gets things under control, and that if he cant agree, then I will tell her what he has told me to explain my concern honestly... 

i dont want to be the one telling her about his current situation, but Im not sure how to keep  her safe without doing that, either. Best case would be his agreeing with me not to drive her right now so we can present it as this will work best right now but I dont anticipate that he will agree.  

Figuring out proper boundaries on this one is hard for me. 

 

 



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~*Service Worker*~

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I see that you're trying very carefully not to insert yourself between him and her.  But when her safety is at issue, of course the stakes are higher.

When I was faced with a similar situation with my son - much younger than your daughter - I decided it was best to be honest but kind.  I said things like, "It's very hard to quit drinking, almost impossible without a formal program of support.  Your dad hasn't been through a program like that, so it's safest to assume that he will continue to feel the compulsion to drink.  I couldn't let you or anyone take the risk that he could have been drinking, which is almost certain for an addict who hasn't been in formal recovery."  It's the truth, it's important, and there it is.  Sometimes I think the addict's own compulsion to keeo it all a secret overflows onto us and we feel we have to keep it a secret too.  Addictive behavior is sad, but it's not really something that needs to be denied and hushed up.  It is what it is.  I see your desire to keep your daughter from feeling anxious.  But the truth is that her dad is in the grip of addiction and that's just the situation.  Ultimately learning to manage the truth and maintain a detachment - loving or not - is really helpful.  Maybe now is a good time for her to make those first steps, while she's living with you and under your protection.  Learning it later on, without support at her elbow, might be more traumatic.  Anyway those are my thoughts.



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~*Service Worker*~

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That you for sharing. It sounds like you are in a really delicate situation, and that you are working your AlAnon program a lot in this situation.

I don't have children of the two-legged variety, so I don't have a lot to share. What Mattie says makes a lot of sense to me, and I would echo the part about secrets. Alcoholism is a disease that thrives in secrecy. I found myself afraid to talk about it, trying to protect one person or another, one relationship or another. When, in fact, alcoholism is a disease, and it causes situations that aren't necessarily safe. Keeping that reality a secret was not a good thing for me, my family, or my relationships. What I've found works best is to say without anger or judgement "Here is the situation..." and focus on the facts of what is happening. I often even say "It isn't good or bad, it just is. And, since that is the reality of the situation, I think/need/have decided ... I'm not angry. I'm not sad. I'm not upset. I'm not (whatever else). This just is what it is right now, and I want us all to be safe." I've found it especially helpful to call out emotions I am NOT having about something and motives I do NOT have about something. Giving voice to the situation and also how my loved ones might misinterpret my statements takes the power away from the disease, at least in my experience.



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Skorpi

If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present. - Lao Tzu



~*Service Worker*~

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Posts: 1489
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(((Norasq)))

I don't know the Answers to your Questions but I Can tell you thru my Experience of Being the Daughter of an Alcoholic, & An Alcoholic... My Mom would Never Bad Mouth My Dad, If I Ask her Something, she would always go with the line "Well Honey that is something you should talk out with your dad if you are Concerned"... Well I Can tell ya, My Afather was NEVER Available for these chats, and in the Face of My Could Only Tell Lies to Cover His Butt, and Make him look like Life was OK... and every time I Brought it up he would Change the Subject to Me & School, because he was in Complete Denial of His Addiction...

So "In My Case" I Felt even More Anxiety because No One Would Just Tell Me the TRUTH! When My Son was Born I Spoke to his Doctor because my Son's Bio-Dad died in a Car wreck when he was 8months old, and even tho My Husband has been there from Day one... My Fear was What do I Tell him, I Don't Want to Lie! And His Doctor Sat me Down in my Tearful state, and Said... "When He Ask, You Tell... You Don't have to Go into Complete & Total Detail, Just Answer the Question Honestly without Judgment." I Have Used this thru ALL of My Parenting...

Your Daughter Has a Disease I Know Little About, tho Autism runs within my Family I know there are Many Many Kinds, I Don't know what your Daughter Can or Can't Handle, but I Know that Lying & Hiding the Truth has Never Worked for Me! When I Got to Al-Anon I had to work Sooo Hard on My Resentments against my Mom for Not Being Open & Honest with Me, and Always Pushing things back to "Well ask Your Father" but what I Heard was "Well Ask your Unavailable Father Not to Answer Your Questions too!" ... There was Days I Wish she would have just Said "He's a Damn Drunk!" because that's what I Could live with, the Lies only caused more Pain...

I Don't know if Al-Anon is Available in your Area, or If you Attend, However, it could be a benefit to your daughter to Maybe Learn About Alcoholism & Addiction thru Al-Anon? It May even Help her Process better what her Father is going thru... We have So Many Wonderful Books on this Disease, that could help so Many... I don't know the Answer to your Questions, but I Hope that My Experience with it, may give you More options...

Only you know your Daughter Best, And Another Wonderful Tool I have in My Toolbox of Al-Anon before I have a Serious Conversation with Anyone about Another's Disease... I Remind Myself to: T.H.I.N.K. = T. Is it True? H Is It Honest? I Is it Important? N Is It Necessary? & K Is it Kind? If I Follow this Guideline I'm Doing My Best! The Tools of this Program are all there... We just have to Chose which ones to Pick up :)

Please Take what you Like and Leave the Rest...

May HP Guide you to the Words/Work you Need to help You & Your Daughter find the Peace you Both Deserve
Keep Coming Back :)

Jozie

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Thee Only Journey I Control Is MY Own :)

Gratitude.... Is a God Honoring Attitude! :D

Bo


~*Service Worker*~

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norasq -- welcome, you are in the right place, especially if you are in the rooms of face to face alanon meetings. As you know, many people there have been through exactly what you are going through -- and they got through it! Successfully! Your "immediate problem" as you call it is the perfect example of alanon being a fellowship, a "we" program, one that endorses and facilitates sponsorship, having a sponsor, etc.

That said, other than your immediate problem, and questions -- I would like to preface my comments and say...WOW!!! You have handled this so well, and in such a healthy way...and more importantly, you've handled this, and conducted yourself with dignity, grace and class. I admire and respect you and your program. It is obvious that you've learned a great deal and more importantly -- used what you've learned.

When dealing with children, and what they see, what you tell them, etc. -- it is never easy. Often there is no right or wrong, and sometimes it's a no-win situation. Sometimes it's the lesser of two evils. In my experience, this is one area where, sure, you can listen to others, even a sponsor, who may know you better than anyone in the world...but, this is still a "personalized parental" situation. Your the parent, this is your child -- your call. Now, that said, I view this very differently than others, and that's OK, for many reasons. First, I come from a place of safety for the child, first, last, everything in between and always. Period. Program, no program, rules, guidelines, policies, cross-talk, I couldn't care less than I do about any of it -- it is about a child. You know what you know, and you should be grateful. If he was lying to you and concealing his drinking, using, etc. -- you would have to take action without knowing, being able to prove, etc., and while that's OK, it is far better to actually know because he admitted it to you. Second, I would also speak with your attorney. While everyone hopes this doesn't become legal, and you both have rights, one inalienable right is for you to say no if you feel your daughter is at risk. However, an attorney, a family attorney, one with experience in these specific areas, will be able to tell you exactly how to handle these situations, and do so within the confines of the law. That is far more important than people think. Decisions and actions have consequences. It is far better to know which ones you can make with no ramifications, rather than be absent of facts and be surprised later by being in trouble.

Third, you are 1000% correct -- it is not safe for him to drive her. Not any any time. When and how he's drinking or using is unknown, and he is not in a position to make sound, just, healthy, legal, and normal decisions for himself, and certainly not for a child. How many DUI's/DWI's are there annually with children in the car. Driving to work is HIS DECISION. You have nothing to say and there is nothing you can do about that. ON HIM. Period. His history of several one-car accidents, driving-off-of-the-road type accidents, etc. -- is more than enough reason for you to say...NO. If an argument ensues as a result of your decision...take legal action!

He thinks he's fine to drive her...you feel she is not...let a judge or mediator decide if need be.

As far as your child...given what I've said above, it's not easy. You can certainly tell her you have some valid concerns. You can tell her he has shared some things with you, and the details are not important, they are between you and him, but those things he shared has put you in a position to make a decision and that decision has to land on the side of being too careful, vs. not careful enough. You can drive her and he can meet there and attend. Maybe she can meet him there before/after and spend some more time. Be accommodating, be as cooperative as you can be -- for her, and for him -- but be stern and refuse on him driving!

If she asks why -- and pushes the issue -- you do not have to tell her about his drinking and drug use, but you can say that you know you know you are doing the right thing, and there are certain things you do not want to discuss with her as it's not appropriate. No, you do not have to bad mouth him, of course not. But you can as the parent be in a confident, convincing, understanding and empathetic role. While I hope she doesn't feel you are inventing trouble, if it does go that way...at some point, you have to be the parent and she has to be the child. What does that mean? It means as a parent...sometimes we have to make the right decision...not the popular one!!!

As far as him -- sure, tell him how you feel. Don't make it a debate, or negotiation. And, yes, tell him that your position is that she is not safe with him driving at this point, not until you feel comfortable and completely convinced, and until then your position is NO.

This to me is not really a boundary per se. It is a position. Not an opinion, a discussion, a negotiation or anything of the like. It is cut and dry. Black and white. It is your position. Period. I couldn't care less if people lollygag or dance around with go to meetings, pray, talk to your sponsor, and more of that. Sure, do that. I would never say no. But until then, before, during and after all that...NO...not until you are convinced your daughter is safe.

I absolutely admire and respect that you put your daughter's safety above everything else. Thank you for sharing about your situation and for being an example of doing the right thing. All the best.

__________________

Bo

Keep coming back...

God, grant me the serenity...to accept the PEOPLE I cannot change...the courage to change the ONE I can...and the wisdom to know it's ME...

 



Senior Member

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Posts: 491
Date:

I have empathy for the tough situation you are in. To date you seem to be really working your program and staying on your own side of the street. Great job. In my experience, safety is always the number one priority. If I have to disclose information to keep a minor or a individual with challenges safe then I do. No ands ifs or buts. Who knows he may surprise you and agree... or she may not ask why you are driving her....and you wont have to do anything other then provide the ride...however in the event that does not happen....I remind myself to do the next right thing even if its not popular, or met with resistance, anger , etc. Not my problem.
Going along with things to get along is no longer in my daily practice.

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~*Service Worker*~

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norasq - welcome back.....I agree that you've got great program experience you are leaning into! That's all that kept me sane during difficult times, such as the one you face. My situation is different but I have 2 sons and they unconditionally love their father - always have and always will. Even though he missed many, many events and things, they were never critical of him and like you, I did the same as best I could.

They did not have special needs but were young/pre-teen for some of our most difficult moments. What helped me greatly was I statements and keeping it simple. For instance, I told my AH that I was uncomfortable with him driving them under the influence for any reason at any time. I also told him that either I would be driving them or they'd be driven in a car-pool setting (which I creatively figured out and helped myself and others).

I did not ask permission, nor did I really give room for discussion. I made a decision and informed him. Keeping it as simple as possible. I then told the boys that I had gotten together with other parents, and we were deploying a car-pool process. I didn't have to make mention of their father or the disease, which I prefer. I have a strong belief that my story is my story and another's is theirs and I need to be able to tell mine without disclosing any of theirs. It takes practice but it's very possible.

For me, sometimes to get creative with solutions, I had to 'act as if' I were alone with no support. Each time I imposed a boundary for safety reasons that limited my AH's input to the family, it did create more work for me yet was well worth it. I think it's important to look at situations as if we were supporting a friend or another loved one - allowing the facts to flow in vs. the emotions/projections.

No rational person would want another who is under the influence to be driving. No matter where, when, who - we all know this is a bad choice. No rational person would ever intentionally put their child/ren in harms way. I would take facts like this, and use the program to build boundaries that protected me, my child/ren and my peace. My sponsor was certainly very helpful.

When I first started with boundaries, there was some resistance. I learned the hard way to be consistent or I had to start over. Focus on what you do know and not on what the outcome might be - it helps with solutions/creativity!

Keep coming back - you're doing awesome and you're not alone!

__________________

Practice the PAUSE...Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you will avoid doing and saying things you will later regret.  ~~~~  Lori Deschene

 

 



Veteran Member

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Thank you all for your help and support. It has helped me re-center myself in this. I plan to talk to ex-ah tomorrow night and tell him that I will drive her from now on, while he is getting help. Anticipating some difficulty but we shall see. Jozie, your THINK was a good reminder. Thanks again.

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Senior Member

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I would tell her the truth. Given that she is in her 20s she is old enough to know and deep down (with anxiety spikes) she probably already knows the truth. I hope the talk goes well.



-- Edited by Jazzie18 on Wednesday 10th of October 2018 02:26:46 PM

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Veteran Member

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I talked to my ex-ah tonight. I told him that based on what he has told me, I do not feel that it is safe for him to drive her and that for now I will drive her to her lessons. I said I didnt want to limit his time with her and that I would drive her to meet him for dinner or spend time with him at his house... but that for the time being I would drive her. Not surprisingly he became angry and argumentative. He said that he is very careful not to drink before he gets in the car with her. I said that my concern was based on what he told me about drinking every morning and taking Xanax every morning and night...and that combination wasnt safe. He wanted to argue with me about how responsible and in control he is. I said I knew he believed that but that I didnt trust his judgment on that. I told him that it wasnt negotiable, I wasnt looking for agreement, that that was my decision for our daughters safety. I said Id tell her that it was because of some things he was struggling with right now, but I also said that if she asked for more info Id tell her the truth. It was a hard conversation but I was proud of myself for being definite, not letting him bait me into arguing or negotiating, and that I didnt say Im sorry which sprang to my lips a few times but I knew was that codependent thing, apologizing to him for the consequences of what he has created! Now comes the task of telling her.
He says he will tell her in the next week or two that he is going to rehab in December. Id rather she hear that from him than me, but Ive decided that I will tell her the driving thing in a dads coping with some challenges now, and remind her thats why he told her its not a good time to stay at his house... and ask her if there is anything more she wants or needs to know.if she asks more I will tell her the truth.
Ugh. Im trying so hard to just stay in my truth, not buy into or further his denial and minimalizing (of course he told me I was over-reacting, which was his response during a lot of our marriage) and I just held firm on heres what you told me, and that is not safe for C.
Thanks again for your comments above, it has really helped me hone in on how to deal with this.

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Bo


~*Service Worker*~

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You did it!!! You ran toward to the roar!!! Now, be gentle with yourself -- feel great about what you did, and don't overcomplicate things.

It should not be hard to stay in your truth and not buy into his denial. I understand, but it should not be hard. You faced the hardest part and conquered it!!! And the hardest part is over!!! Now, this should be easy. If he keeps looking to re-engage, revisit this issue, whatever -- just keep showing him how definitive you are. Don't defend yourself. Don't explain yourself in a justification way. Just state your position, and do it confidently. Simply say, this is not negotiable. I am not looking to argue or fight with you, and I am not looking to instigate anything, but this not negotiable, and I am definitive. Don't keep reiterating to him what he said to you. Don't use his own "evidence" against him. It can be inflammatory and can trigger remorse. It will give him reason not to tell you things in the future. No hypothesizing, but just be careful.

You did great!!! Thank you for sharing this, and thanks for being an inspiration. I admire and respect how you handled this -- and even more importantly -- that you did it!!!


__________________

Bo

Keep coming back...

God, grant me the serenity...to accept the PEOPLE I cannot change...the courage to change the ONE I can...and the wisdom to know it's ME...

 



~*Service Worker*~

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norasq - go you! I see your program in action and it looks great on you. For me, each time I was able to look at facts, examine my motives and then face 'life' with dignity, it felt good. It does get easier each time, and practicing the program as best I can in all my affairs has helped me retrain my loved ones how I need to be treated.

Another very helpful suggestion I found in recovery was to practice the pause. We (parents) know our kids better than another. When my had questions, I answered them as honestly as possible without offering my position, opinion, perspective. In recovery, I learned to just say what I mean, mean what I say and not say it mean. I love the JADE concept I learned here - Don't Justify, Argue, Defend or Explain - and found out that Yes and No are complete sentences.

Keep leaning into the program and the process. It does work well when we work it and we are all worth it. (((Hugs)))

__________________

Practice the PAUSE...Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you will avoid doing and saying things you will later regret.  ~~~~  Lori Deschene

 

 



Veteran Member

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Thank you, Bo and Iamhere. I think with ex-ah I find it hard to stay in my truth is that we were married for over 20 years and I did all of the codependent things... didnt want to argue or rile him, felt uncomfortable challenging him, *believed* when he told me that it was my over-reaction and *he* was the normal one. I always felt crazy and uncertain about my own reactions around him, especially around the subject of alcohol. Since we separated 5 years ago, Ive regained a lot of clarity, but when I talk to him it takes work not to slide back into that pattern. It felt like a small milestone of sorts for me to tell him heres what Ive decided, no negotiating, Cs safety comes first.
Anyway, thanks again for the support it helps a lot.

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Bo


~*Service Worker*~

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I hear you. Co-dependency is one thing, awareness and action is another. You have keen awareness about who he is, what he's doing, how he's living, and so on and so on. You get it. You know what you need to do. And you did it!!! And you will keep doing it!!! Here's the secret -- co-dependency, finding hard to do whatever, etc., WILL ONLY BE A PROBLEM for you...if you allow it! If you say it! Instead of saying "I find it hard to stay in my truth, not buy into his denial, etc." -- instead of that, simply say "I am definitive, I am certain, I am confident" and "This is not subject to negotiation, this is my position, I am doing what is best for me and my child" -- and the proclamation becomes who you are being.

In my experience...It's hard -- often because -- you say it's hard...that is one thing most people don't get, because they don't really embrace being completely open and honest and look at themselves. It's empowering. Being in action is being in power, and being in action is being empowered.

You did it!!! 20 years is 20 years. Rear-view mirror. Look at now! Look at what you did!!! Move forward, look ahead. Everything he did was manipulation, lies, sales pitch, etc. -- so that you would do what he wanted you to do, and so that whatever the problem was, was your fault!!! DENIAL, DEFLECTION, DISMISSIVE, and more. That's what alcoholics do!!! Period.

You are not sliding back anywhere!!! You are the quality person. The good person. You are the one with truth, dignity, class, and integrity. Be confident!!!

__________________

Bo

Keep coming back...

God, grant me the serenity...to accept the PEOPLE I cannot change...the courage to change the ONE I can...and the wisdom to know it's ME...

 

Pol


Veteran Member

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Good for you OP :D


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"My Higher Power does not put any challenges before me that I am unable to face. The comfort I find in that knowledge can overcome my fears" C2C - June 11
 
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