You cannot set boundaries and take care of someone else’s feelings at the same time. –The Forum, September 2000 p. 28
He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that no one can pierce. –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sometimes my recovery is two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes, like last night, it’s one step forward, three steps back. But I learn. I always learn something from the experience, whether positive or not so positive. So I share what I’m going to share with you today in the hopes it will help you. As always, take what you need and leave the rest.
Last night, I picked up my sister for a meeting. She lives on my way there, and it’s at a treatment center that has both AA/Al-Anon meetings. When she came out of her apartment she was weaving slightly while she walked, and had to lean on my car before she got in. My drunk radar went up, but I decided instead of assuming, to ask her about it.
I asked her if she had anything to drink that day. She emphatically denied it, slightly slurring her words, and would not meet my eyes. This should have been a major clue. If my sister is being honest, she looks me in the eye. I asked if she’d taken any anti-anxiety meds. She said she took ONE, early in the morning, so she could sleep because she didn’t want to think about her life, plus she was out of cigarettes.
“That is still affecting you right now? That one pill?” I asked, not really believing her, but wanting to.
“Yes. And well, I just woke up when you called to pick me up.” It was 7:00 in the evening.
So I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. It couldn’t hurt for her to go to a meeting, anyhow. I let her bum a cigarette off me, knowing that I would have to stop for gas on the way home and she could get her own then.
Half-way there, as she was exhaling smoke and mumbling about something I couldn’t hear, I smelled it. I smelled the fumes of alcohol coming off her. The old me would have ignored it. But not now. I was tired. Tired of messing around, tip-toeing around, and mixing up my role of caretaker.
“When did you drink?” I asked her.
She looked straight out the windsheild. “Yesterday. I drank yesterday.”
“I can smell it on you right now. You must have had something to drink today.” It felt terrible to do this, but I was DRIVING her to an AA meeting! It felt ironic to say the least and too late at worst.
“I had two glasses of wine today. Just two.”
Liar. I knew it as well as I knew I could never give up smoking cigarettes on my own.
I should have just turned around. But I knew of other AA meetings where members would rather welcome people drunk to their tables than not at all. So we continued on. She went to her meeting. I went to mine.
On our way out the door, one of the staff members said to me, out of my sister’s earshot “Next time bring her sober.” Yeah. Thanks. I’ll be sure to do that. This is all my fault. Of course it is.
So this morning when I spoke to my sister, she was all cheery, said she felt fine, she’d slept great (I didn’t). I told her my new boundary.
“I won’t take you to meetings drunk anymore. If you had told me you were high immediately when you got in the car instead of f***ing around about it, I wouldn’t have been halfway there before I knew. Just be honest about it. Why would I get mad if you’re honest? We would’ve just gone to the meeting another time. Relapse is a part of recovery. Remember that.”
She was just quiet. Apologized. Said thank you.
Geez. Why does it all have to be so hard? I just want to sleep now. 😦