Something I have learned through my experiences with my family and their ongoing addictions and my own struggles with addiction and substance abuse is when it comes to implementing and honoring boundaries….
All of it resides in a beautiful, flexible, gray area.
And this area is meant to provide a safe place but things there aren’t permanent. They are there sort of leasing short-term lots; like a camp ground for the shitty things that we don’t know what to do with, so we just do our best and continue on knowing that everything in the gray area can be re-evaluated at any time and assessed to fit what’s most current.
Things can then stay there or we can take them and move them and change them.
And the choice is always up to us.
I haven’t always fully understood this but that is because it has taken time.
For a long time, creating a boundary within a relationship or a friendship always felt so concrete. I believed that because I made a decision, that meant that I had ruined any possibility of a future relationship.
*(And yes, sometimes cutting ties and burning the bridge to the ground is what’s up. It is what is best for everyone and in my experience, it can be therapeutic and positive.) But that isn’t the only option and it is not always obvious as to what ‘the next right thing’ is going to be.
So when I got a friend request on Facebook from my brother last week it through me through a loop. I was surprised to see it in the notifications because it has been around six months since we last spoke.
Without thinking it to death, I sent him a message that said I wasn’t trying to offend him or make him feel bad, but I am not sure that we’re ready to be friends. I added that I hoped he was feeling well and that he was alright.
And that was it.
For now that is all that I have to give.
But it is also all that I should be giving to him.
He doesn’t need to be my friend right now.
Not only are boundaries okay.
Not only are they (not) permanently fixed , set constrictions.
They also aren’t always set because they are what’s best for US.
I have watched and felt and observed our dynamic over the years that I have been sober.
For some reason my brother and I cannot be in the same room for long periods of time.
Too much of my own sober time has been spent perpetually wondering what I have done wrong or what I could maybe do better or different, and where the rage and impulsive behavior comes from when we are together. I am always left feeling confused and sad and hurt.
But it wasn’t until the truth finally clicked:
I am a trigger for him.
It’s that simple.
And right now, he doesn’t recognize it.
Until he is in a place where he is ready to confront that, we can’t be friends.
Seeing me and being around me obviously stirs his emotions and buried issues and negative feelings that he has in his heart and mind that cause him pain and anxiety and anger.
Lots of anger.
How badly do I wish I could just explain this to him and have it click?
But that’s not how it works. I know that.
I believe that he needs and deserves connection because he is valuable.
But it is wrong to believe that I have to be that person to connect with him or that I am a good candidate to help them feel connected.
Because in this particular instance, I am not. I am not the person for the job even if I want to be and it doesn’t matter that I feel like I am over-qualified for the job.
It’s God’s job.
There is no doubt in my mind that He will provide the right people who will walk alongside of my brother when he is ready for that walk. And when it is my time to walk I will walk alongside of him, gladly.
I know that one day we will have to come face to face with some hard things that he has buried. I am also positive that some day I will need to apologize for a long list of things that I have done indirectly and purposefully and unknowingly, and I am ready to ask for his forgiveness so that we can learn to move past the water underneath the bridge of reconciliation.
I am open and willing to do that when the time comes.
Until then I am going to try to stay out-of-the-way and do my best not to become another hindrance to an already difficult and bumpy road.