One of the things we rely on drugs and addictive behaviors to help us avoid are the conflicts in our relationships, many of which are a result of unclear or nonexistent boundaries. We tend to choose unhealthy relationships full of control, manipulation and toxicity. We allow ourselves to be abused, and we’re abusive towards others. We’re in codependent relationships where we feel as though we need the other person in order to survive and cope with life. We enable each other’s addictive patterns and worsen each other’s mental health issues. We never give ourselves the chance to get clear on what our boundaries are, what we need from our relationships, what things we will and won’t tolerate, what our expectations are for how we’ll be treated. Similarly, we don’t know what the other person’s boundaries are in the relationship, so we’re left confused and overwhelmed, trying to figure out how to operate within the relationship. So much of the conflict, misunderstanding, tension and turmoil can be alleviated by learning how to define our boundaries.
Firstly, we want to heal the parts of ourselves that accept and condone abusiveness and unkindness. We want to remove ourselves from the relationships that are hurting us. Easier said than done, but the more we heal ourselves and learn to love ourselves, the stronger and more empowered we become. We start to make healthier choices around who we give our time and energy to. We start to choose friends and partners who respect and value us. We start to expect that we’ll be treated well, and we refuse to settle for less. It is only in these relationships that we can really have healthy boundaries. When there is too much toxicity and too much harm being done, trying to have boundaries won’t help us.
When we’re in relationships with healthy communication and effective conflict resolution, when we both have learned more about ourselves and grown in self-love and self-acceptance, then we can really work to define what our boundaries are. What things are you particularly sensitive to, that you need the other person to respect? What things are difficult for you, that you would ask the other person to be patient with you about? What are your triggers, deal-breakers and non-negotiables? What are your expectations for the relationship? What are your needs in the relationship? Are you using this other person to fulfill the needs that you must fulfill on your own, such as finding mental and emotional balance? We can only have healthy boundaries in our relationships when we are healthy within ourselves and not expecting other people to do our emotional work for us. The more we define and establish our boundaries in our relationships, the healthier they will be, and therefore the happier and more balanced we’ll be.
Your new life starts today. Let Riverside Recovery be your support system as you do the work to heal. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on our addiction recovery treatment programs.