Boundaries are Hard

Visitor (not verified)
anonymous user
Registered: 12-31-1969
Boundaries are Hard
Fri, 08-31-2012 - 3:46pm

Hi.  I am a 32 year old adult child of an alcoholic/addict.  My mom has struggled with her disease for about 15 years now.  That of course means that I have as well.  I am the proud mommy of two amazing kids, one who is almost three and the other is 15 weeks old.  Becoming a parent has brought out a strength in me that I never realized I possessed.  I told my mother that if she could not stay sober that  I could  not have her be in my life.  The cycle of this sickness has to stop somewhere and I refuse to one, watch her kill herself and two, allow my kids to be hurt.  So when she refused treatment I put my foot down and have not called her and have stuck by my boundary.  This has been a hard 3 weeks.  I know she is not getting better because my grandmother called to tell me how worried she is for my mom.  Like so many people I am obsessed with Pinterest and keep seeing these cute pins for the holidays and for kids birthday party ideas.  My oldest turns three next month and then of course the holidays are coming around.  I feel so torn about my boundary.,  It is relatively easy to keep firm on my choice when it is just an ordinary day.  I feel strongly that it is best for me to stay away from her.  However, I battle with the question of how can I not invite her to my child's birthday party.  How can I not see her for the holidays.  It makes me feel evil and hateful to bar my mom from these events.  I know that she loves me, my husband, and my kids.  It is herself she doesn't love.  I am struggling with being the bigger person and sucking up the hurt it causes me to see her drunk/stoned at what should be fun, happy family events and with keeping my boundary of distance.  The other thing that I worry about is that it is not fair to my stepdad to not invite my mom, but he is also a big piece of the problem.  He is enabling her to death, literally.  I also have stopped communicating with him because I am sick of being asked to spy on my mom for him or to "fix her".  Anyone else been in a similar situation?  If so, did you stick to your boundaries or did you compromise here and there?  Being a grown up is hard....

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2006
Fri, 08-31-2012 - 4:12pm
My suggestion is that you not think about 'forever' or 'never' or 'always' but think about 'just for today'. Like 'just for today, I am comfortable that what is best for me and my children is to not interact with my mother.' If others try to draw you in, say, 'I am choosing to not deal with that (or talk about that) today'. many adult children of alcoholics have become 'parentified', thinking that theyeate responsible for their patent.. You do not have to be. Many think that it is their job to fix everything for everyone. You can't. You have your priorities right - your and your children's well being. Your mother might decide to change and get help, but probably not after three might take might never happen. You cannot change that. All you can control s what you are wiling to do. It doesn't matter whether other people agree with or approve of your choice. Only you have to believe you are right. Growing up is very hard....some people choose to never act like are not one of those people. Best wishes. SJ
Community Leader
Registered: 09-14-1997
Fri, 08-31-2012 - 5:01pm

Hello and welcome. I am Beth, a recovering alcoholic. I have not been in your shoes, but mine were a similar size and shape. In 2001 my father-in-law, after having made lewd comments and jokes to me for years (as well as once copping a feel), made lewd comments to a 15 year old girl in my home. My husband and I decided that FIL could not be around us or our then 8 year old daughter.  (My husband also confronted his father with his mother present, but that is another story.) From 2001-2004 there was limited contact between my FIL and myself, and none between him and our daughter. The only times we saw each other was funerals. Meanwhile he went to counseling.

In 2004 we were blessed with another daughter. FIL asked permission to come to the hospital. From that point on we saw him exclusively at holidays. He was never, ever, ever left alone with me or my daughters. 

We were able to amend our boundaries because he accepted our terms (never alone with me or the girls). We were never close, but days before he died he did tell me that he was sorry if he had ever done something that made me uncomfortable. Okay, it wasn't a real apology, but it was more than I ever expected. 

Your mom is sick. You need to safe guard yourself and your kids. You can set boundaries like...we can meet for ice cream at this time in this place (for your child's birthday) instead of inviting her to a party. We always had 2 'parties', one for my side of the family and friends, and one at which FIL was invited. Yeah, awkward, but do-able. 

You are on the right track. 

Community Leader
Registered: 09-14-1997
Fri, 08-31-2012 - 5:02pm

Good message

Community Leader
Registered: 09-14-1997
Fri, 08-31-2012 - 5:03pm

Thanks for the suggestion!


Community Leader
Registered: 10-08-2002
Fri, 08-31-2012 - 8:49pm
Hi...I am Brenda...alcoholic/addict in recovery. Your post was hard to read....because I was your mother. I did not find sobriety until I was almost 50 and my children were grown and I had 5 grandchildren. I was not allowed to be with those grandkids. I was only called on the phone twice a year. When I did get sober, none of that changed, except for two things. One...when I did get very sick, my children came to see me (not the grandchildren, just the children) and I was allowed more than those two calls a year. At three years sober, my oldest came and stayed with me while I recuperated from a serious surgery and we began to slowly put our lives together as two women that did care for each other but my child was slow to accept the fact that I did not drink. We worked out a passable way of communicating and becoming friends. While my youngest would come to a hospital to see me when I was seriously ill, she still did not trust me nor did she let her children around me for the first 10 years of my sobriety. My grandchildren were almost grown before I got to know them. I realize today that both my girls were just taking care of themselves in a way that I never took care of them. I am grateful that I am even allowed in their lives. It took a lot of work and healing time for that to happen. I did not know any of that when I was still drinking and I would drink myself into a real fit of anger at them...but now....I admire their desire to have a decent lives in spite of me. As a sober woman of fifteen years, I can say that today my life is blessed....and the blessings are only possible because I finally gave up the fight with alcohol. Not everyone does that.....and that makes me sad...but the lives my children had to live with me as a drunk is even sadder. They definitely made the right choices...and I admire their inner strength to be able to do that....I know it was hard...we have talked about it since I got sober. Today, I have a warm, loving family...and only because I made the decision to find a way out of my alcoholism/addiction and followed thru on it. If they had not called me out on it, I might never have gotten the nerve to try sobriety. God bless....
Alcohol, Addictions & Recovery. It's a long way down, but only 12 steps UP