The men currently working through the 7 Pillars of Freedom workbook with me and the women working through the Betrayal & Beyond process with Lynn have both come to the time of writing boundary documents, Recovery Action Plans and Relapse Prevention Plans. I find it interesting that the programs are independent of each other in process as well as schedule and yet, we arrived at this important week at the same time.
I don’t have all the answers regarding this topic. I know intimately well what Lynn and I did. I have read books and spoken to other couples who are in recovery about their journey so I have an increasing knowledge of the subject matter. What I know, is that boundaries are good, helpful and necessary – not only when dealing with betrayal recovery but for any marriage that longs for health and longevity.
I have a document that I titled “Lifestyle boundaries.” For the entirety of my life, until I was found out, I had no boundaries. I had no concept of boundaries in my life except where it fueled my facade. I could walk a nice straight line in public behind my mask. In my private, secret, addicted life, however, boundaries didn’t exist. Lines other Christian men wouldn’t even come close to, I flaunted and crossed without even noticing.
I re-read my Lifestyle document before every business trip. I’ve listed out social situations that masquerade as business and other situations that in the past I’ve failed to deal with appropriately. But more than merely itemizing out the risky situations I detail my reactions to them and how I will deal with them and the expectation of purity I have in each one. Why is this important? Because they are premeditated decisions. I have eliminated the risk of making a choice on the fly. The decision on how to behave has already been made. There is no vacillating; there is no “moment of indecision.” There is no avenue for temptation. The decision has already been made and I follow the decision. Boundaries are not hardships. They afford safety.
Granted, I still have to abide by them. I still have to follow my own directives. But that decision also was made in a state of calm, a state of Spiritual peace, with all the right and important people factored in. It is a decision made by a man who knows that he is without doubt a Child of the Living God and the last thing he wants to do again is hurt his Father; or his wife.
Even if the situation isn’t exactly like one I’ve dealt with in advance, having boundaries makes me keenly aware of my circumstances. Four years ago there were no red flags. There was no thinking ahead. There was only plowing forward and obliterating lines that I had no business even toeing up to. Only a few weeks ago I was out of town at a Rep meeting and plans changed on the fly due to inclement weather. We were now going to get some ‘southern’ ambiance and get drinks at a “biker bar” before dinner. I didn’t know what that meant exactly and my imagination drew me all kinds of pictures that I was not interested in being a part of. In the past, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought and quite possibly have found myself somewhere that I shouldn’t have been – business or not. On the bus headed over I formulated a plan. I asked the driver if he was coming in. He said he wasn’t. I asked him if he was leaving and he said he would be waiting for us in the parking lot. I said, “Great. Depending on what I find inside I may be back to sit with you.” The reputation of said biker bar was years past its prime. It was more like “Cheers” for Octogenarians. I got a Coke and went outside with some of the other guys and stood on the dock overlooking the bayou and we laughed and talked and looked for alligators. It turned out to be nothing. But I was ready if it had been something.
Let me make a quick point. I had a Coke. No, I am not a tea-totaler. At least not when I’m at home and with Lynn. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions. The last thing an addict needs is to lower his inhibitions. It’s on my Lifestyle document. When I’m out of town without Lynn, I do not drink. Not a glass of wine, not a finger of Scotch.
What do my boundaries do for me? I keep a clear head and a pure heart. My Father is proud of me and I am a man Lynn can grow to respect. What better reasons are there to have sharply defined boundaries?