Boundaries - How to Create Them
Boundaries are essential for recovering addicts. Keeping boundaries helps prevent relapses.
You must "own" your boundaries. You might create a boundary at first at the request of your wife, a therapist, or someone you care about. But in the end, a boundary must be your own. You must believe that the boundary exists to protect you. You must keep your boundaries not because someone else is forcing you to keep them, but because YOU want to keep your boundaries to prevent yourself from slipping into addictive behavior.
A boundary needs to be a firm line that you do not cross. Your boundaries sometimes might seem strange or annoying to others, even to relatives. Some might try to talk you out of keeping certain boundaries because they aren't convenient or "normal". But you know the reasons for your boundaries and why they are needed.
For example, perhaps you realize that surfing the internet after 10 pm on your phone is a common time when your thoughts stray, your resolve weakens, and you end up indulging in pornography. Your new boundaries could be as follows:
1. No using the internet after 10 pm
2. No phone in my room after 10 pm
Triggers are plentiful when it comes to media. So I have some straightforward boundaries regarding media:
1. I do not watch TV
2. I do not watch movies
3. I do not use YouTube
4. I do not use social media
The only exception to these boundaries is when my wife recommends something to me that is safe and beneficial for my recovery.
Here are some more examples of my boundaries:
1. I will not flirt or seek connection with other women.
2. I will be 100% honest with my wife.
3. When traveling, I call my wife as soon as I arrive at the hotel, as well as right before going to bed and give her daily accountability.
4. I never take my phone into any bathroom.
5. I do not hug members of the opposite sex except my wife, daughter, sisters, my mother-in-law, and mother.
6. I will not manipulate or gaslight my wife.
My personal list of boundaries is quite extensive. I build on it as needed. Whenever I find something that is a trigger, I create a new boundary to help me stay away from that trigger. At first, it bothered me that I needed so many boundaries. But now I am grateful for all of them. I own them. They help me stay safe and clean. They create trust in my marriage relationship.
If you relapse, or have unclean thoughts that cause a desire to relapse, find the trigger! Be honest with yourself and recognize what it was that planted the seed for the bad thoughts and/or relapse. Perhaps it was a video game, a book you read, or a television commercial you saw. Maybe it was socializing/flirting with a co-worker, picking up a magazine in a waiting room, or the movie you watched over the weekend. Once you realize what the trigger is, write a new boundary FOR YOURSELF. And keep it! Such as:
1. No playing video games
2. No reading fiction books / magazines
3. No watching television