When Martha’s phone rang at five a.m., she knew it was Katy…again. She’d been living with Katy’s drunk dialing for far too long. Martha wanted to help her daughter, but she was dealing with depression herself and just a few weeks away from major hip surgery.
Martha knew it was time to set some boundaries, but she also knew it was important to set them with love and kindness. After all, she was one of Katy’s only supports; pulling the rug out from under her might just push her over the edge.
Setting Healthy, Loving Boundaries
Here’s a look at the things Martha asked Katy to do in order to help them both get better:
- Don’t call in the middle of the night. Martha gave Katy some hotline numbers to call if she felt like she needed to talk to someone.
- Work on building a larger support system so she didn’t have to lean on Martha so much.
- Try to be honest about feelings of anger and depression, while still being kind. Talk softly to each other during these moments.
- Never fight when Katy was drunk. Drunken arguments only make things worse in the end.
- Martha agreed to attend her own support group so she could get some guidance.
- Get back into their individual self-care routines. Martha liked to do yoga; Katy liked to run. Encourage each other to do healthy things without putting pressure on one another.
- Agree to address Katy’s substance abuse. Katy would look into treatment programs and recovery groups, while Martha would get therapy for her enabling behaviors.
Clearing the Air
Having this conversation wasn’t easy. Dynamics between mothers and daughters can be tricky, especially when one has a substance abuse problem.
Almost immediately after setting the above boundaries, Martha and Katy felt the tension between them ease. Even the pets noticed. Their cat and dog had been jumpy, fighting, and biting. All of a sudden, they calmed down and cuddled more on their humans’ laps.
Communication is powerful – and it can be lifesaving. Within a few months, Katy had ninety days sober and her mother came to the celebration. Both were doing better at work and at school. There was now a light at the end of the dark tunnel, thanks to the hard work of sitting down and having an honest conversation.
Additional Reading: Oops, I Did it Again – Problems with Failed Boundaries
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