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Addiction and Relationships: The 6 Boundary Types And How To Make Them


“Boundaries are a part of self-care. They are healthy, normal, and necessary” -Doreen Virtue


Before the beginning of my crazy experiences in the world of addiction, I never really knew what boundaries were. I thought that people just did their own thing depending on how they felt at any given time, and if anything changed they adjusted accordingly. I guess most people actually do that, but that’s not my point. 


Anyways, as time went on and more experiences were had that caused me to look deeper and analyze things more, I realized that there are also different types of boundaries. A lot of this was discovered by noticing my behaviors and how I would respond to things. 


Sometimes I want to talk about things, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I want to do things, sometimes I don’t. 


I’ve realized too that a lot of it has to do with being polite. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings of course, or make myself feel guilty about doing what’s healthy for me. 


But that also makes things confusing, because then people won’t know how I feel about things and so won’t know if they are crossing a line. 


So what do we do?


Here’s the magic ingredient: communication. No one can guess your do-not-cross line, and if you make them try, it’s going to get really annoying for everyone. And also, you kinda need to know what kinds of boundaries there are so you can be clear about what you want.


So let’s break down the types shall we?


-Time boundaries: Let’s say someone needs help with something. A chore, a project at work (or work in general), or just a visit where they want to see you, and you just want to go back home and be in your own space. This is where you need to be upfront and honest with how much time you are willing to give, if you even want to give any. Time is valuable, and being sure in how much you are willing to spend on any one thing is priceless.


-Physical boundaries: So someone you know isn’t good/fun/healthy to be around, and you know they bring you down or cause some other negative form of influence when they are in your presence. What do you do? That’s where physical boundaries come in. This allows you to draw a line in the sand of where you will or will not go, or who you will not be around, no excuses (unless you communicate otherwise).


-Conversational boundaries: What is ok to talk about with you? Everyone has those triggering or uncomfortable topics that they don’t like discussing, and that’s ok. Your life and experiences are as open of a book as you make it, and unless you make some clear markers of what’s ok, people will think that anything is fair game.

 

-Relationship boundaries: What are the limits of your relationship, and what does that mean to you? This can be with your partner, your close friends, and your family members. What would you like your role to be, and what responsibilities come with it? How do you define yourself in the relationship and how does that relate to you and what is or isn’t acceptable?


-Personal boundaries: This is anything that has to do with you personally, and can overlap into other boundary groups. Do you have specific things that you yourself are not comfortable with? Maybe things that peers or those close to you wouldn’t understand? 


-Content boundaries: Content is all around us, social media is easily accessible, and there’s always something going on, being shared, or getting talked about. What you allow has some considerable amount of influence on you, and it’s important to regulate what you let into your life. Someone sharing something inappropriate or against your beliefs? This is where you need to decide if you want to speak out about it or keep it from your life. 


Now, let me share about some boundaries I have discovered for me. 


I have my recovery, and so does my partner. Before this time of our lives there were things going on of course, but it wasn’t always so positive. And while sometimes I love to talk about things because it’s therapeutic and helpful to sort through my myriad of thoughts, sometimes I can also get some opinions that I may have not been ready for, or that I don’t agree with, or are honestly pretty rude or negative. I used to keep that bottled inside because I thought it was rude to shut someone down when I was coming to them for help. But, not everything people do with good intentions will be perceived as good intentions to you. And that’s where my boundaries come in. 


I could honestly be more clear sometimes, but just like with a lot of my life, it’s a work in progress, and that’s ok. But I’ve noticed that even in the small things I have adjusted, it’s felt much better. I can agree to disagree without getting caught up in an argument where I try to “prove” myself or my position on things, or defend another person/myself. I don’t need to do that. I know who I am and how I want my life to go, I am determined on doing my best, and that’s all I can do. I can see another’s view, acknowledge it, and move on without creating negative tension. 


And with my partner, we both have boundaries of what we do and don’t want to discuss or participate in, and with the communication there, it makes things better for us and our relationship. Take the addiction/recovery side of things. I have made it a boundary of mine that I would like to bring up things that bother me if it’s something I can’t get through on my own and it’s affecting our relationship. This can be a trigger, a past memory, or anything like that. Another boundary is that under no circumstances will I be ok with any drug (or anything that we’ve classified as a “unacceptable substance”) being used by him or around our family. What he does is his business, but I have the control to allow what I want or don’t want in my life, and how things proceed from there. 


Boundaries can come in many different types, and can be different depending on your life, where you are in your recovery, and what’s acceptable to you. Sure, we may have some similarities, but just like in our shared experiences, we also have our own personal views and what works best for us.


I invite you to look at your life and see where some healthy boundaries could apply or be adjusted.


They can make a world of difference in your health, relationships, and sanity.



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