Setting boundaries with someone in early recovery can be one of the hardest things to do. The boundary itself may be easy to make, but setting it and keeping it are the real challenges for most people. Whether you are a parent of a person in early recovery or your significant other is just getting sober, showing that you care for that person by setting a boundary can be a big part of helping someone in their own recovery.
Loved ones and family members who are close to newly recovering addicts and alcoholics may need to set a boundary for various reasons. For example, if someone you care for is currently in treatment and you want to make sure they understand some terms for when they are coming back into your life, then setting a boundary is probably best done right away.
1. Create a boundary that is clear
When setting boundaries it is best to make it very clear what is being asked or stated. Using language that could be interpreted in more ways than one will only confuse or dilute the message of the boundary. For example, if the boundary is to tell someone that they cannot come home right after they complete treatment, then leave it at that.
2. Make sure that everyone setting the boundary is on the same page.
It’s important that if you are setting a boundary for someone, make sure that other people who may need to also set that boundary are aware. Having a conversation or plan about how to set a boundary for your child with your spouse will ensure that everyone is on the same page.
3. Plan for the worst
Be prepared that if you set a boundary with someone who may not have experience with boundaries, they may be resistant. Telling someone close to you that you are making rules or drawing a line can already be a tough process, but realizing how the information could be received is a smart way to start thinking about the boundary.
4. Be firm with YOUR commitment
If someone is resistant to a boundary that you are setting, then make sure that you stay strong and committed to what you said originally. Changing the terms of boundaries just because someone is resistant to them is not a reason to back down on your commitment. You have to remember that there is a reason why a boundary needed to be set in the first place.
5. Boundaries can save lives
As hard as it is to set a boundary with someone close to you, it can definitely save that person’s life. Enabling someone to continue a destructive pattern may only end up harming or even killing that person in the end. It is important to remember that disagreeing with someone’s decisions or telling someone “no” may be what they need to hear in order to stop them from causing further harm to themselves or someone else.
Boundaries can save YOUR life.
Remember that the boundary you are setting isn’t just for the person, but it is also for you. Maybe you have continued to allow a destructive pattern of behavior in your home or you are tired of feeling like there’s nothing you can do to help someone? Setting a boundary can bring relief to your life. It can also allow you to feel more at peace, because you are taking steps to help someone make a change.
The planning that may need to be done when setting and keeping boundaries will be what really makes the difference. Committing to a plan that has clearly been discussed with anyone that may also need to set a boundary will ensure that the boundary is being kept.