Setting boundaries is never easy, and if you’re struggling with addiction, your boundaries may be messier than others. They may also change, depending on the pressure you’re under and your current state of well-being. Part of the detox process is knowing what people and situations to break away from or how to reduce their impact on your health and calm.
Boundaries can also change, depending on the event and the time of year. For example, a big family gathering at an outdoor event may allow you to get some physical distance from folks who get under your skin, while a December event in a cold climate could leave you feeling trapped and edgy. For each event or interaction, understand that you may need to alter who you’re exposed to and for how long.
Build In Privacy
No matter what event it is you’re attending, make sure to build in some alone time before and after the event. Meditate or take a nap before the gathering, whether it’s a New Year’s Day brunch or just a family card game, so you can face the group with a relaxed spirit and a resilient brain. Instead of taking the highway, take the low slow route to a gathering so you can get some relief time in the car. If you take public transport, use the bus instead of the train to enjoy structured time on your own. If possible, schedule solo events and activities that you enjoy doing alone.
For those who love museums and libraries, find a space where you can enjoy some quiet time among the books and paintings. Even an hour on your own in the quiet and calm of these spaces can help you prepare for group events. Go for a walk, do some gentle yoga, or cook a special meal just for yourself to nourish the person that you are on your own before you immerse yourself in the company of others.
Monitor Your Triggers
One of the weird things about triggers is that they can move around. For example, on a beautiful spring day you may be able to tolerate getting a little hungry before pressures start to build. However, if it’s cold and rainy or too hot to comfortably be outside, you may find that just being a bit sleep deprived can bring some dark thoughts to the front of your mind. Be gentle with yourself as your triggers change; what worked last week may be too much this week.
Understand that part of the detox process is focusing in on your triggers. You will need to track them as they change so your can build in time to reduce your stress. If you’ve got a family member who gets under your skin and another family member who’s willing to help you out, find out when the trigger-person is arriving and plan to leave within an hour of your exposure to that person. You don’t have to hang around in poisoned waters. Having an escape route from the exposure can reduce the pressure on your spirit.
Fixing Isn’t Your Job
If one of the people or situations hitting all your buttons is in need of repair, understand that their issues are theirs to fix. Too many of us are told that our addiction is the source of all the problems in our lives. It’s not; we all live in a world that’s full of other folks, and everyone has their issues. Your challenges are your challenges and managing them is your job. You can’t take on the burden of anyone else’s pain. Holidays in particular tend to put a lot of pressure on people.
Expectations are high and many people go into what could be a time of great joy with too many burdens to make every event a special, one of a kind experience. If you’ve got a family member with a house crammed full of Christmas and a party that makes everyone a little crazy, it’s OK not to go. It’s also OK to only show up for a short time, to take a walk after dinner, or to find some other way to escape. Others are in charge of setting their expectations. You are not in charge of meeting them. Detox is more then chemical. As you rebuild your awareness of your self and your needs, understand that others may start to put pressure on you that feels intrusive. If you’re ready to learn how to set boundaries, we can help. Contact us at 844-639-8371 for a conversation.