Saturday, October 8, 2011

Falling off the bandwagon

Before anyone gasps at the title or starts to worry about me, it is not me that fell off the bandwagon. Rather, it is my neighbor. I found this out last night when she asked if I had a minute to speak to her. Earlier in the week, she had called me apologizing about the other night and said if I wanted to talk to give her a call. I didn't call back the next day, so she took it as I was pissed at her and left my book Drinking I had let her borrow in my mail box. I figured she thought we were on bad terms and did not want to "owe" me anything.  Do you notice other people do this as well--it's like having no reminder of you.

Anyway, I was incredibly busy this week and was going to leave a note in her mailbox before I left, saying I was not angry with her, that I had found the dogs an alternative, and she need not worry. Yes, this was partly a little avoidance on my part, but truly, I was in and out all week.

Yesterday, after I finished mowing, she asked if I had a minute to talk with her. She apologized and confessed that she had fallen off the bandwagon and begun drinking again. Part of the reason why she never acknowledged me the night of our disagreement was that she did not want me to smell alcohol on her breath.  Obviously, it was no excuse for what she said or how she behaved, but it did at least give a partial reason. There are some other things going on in her life as well, and I think she feels very overwhelmed. I suggested she see an individual therapist besides just going to AA groups. She agreed, so I hope she will do that.

Interestingly enough, in one sentence she tells me how hard it is for her to come over 3x/day to take care of my pets, how she does not have an everyday schedule, but in the same breath, she says how she could take care of them this week, and how she doesn't break commitments.  Huh? I told her everything had been arranged and not to worry about it.

We ended the conversation with me telling her that this tiff we had was not ending our friendship which made her feel a lot better.  I really do think she would have been really sad if it had.

When I think about this entire scenario, it reminds of me of my former roommate who was an alcoholic.  With her, (and I do not suggest to other people to do this), but I took her on like a project.  Somehow, I thought I could help/save her.  I should also add  here I had enough of my problems at this time as well, but this was a bit of a distraction I suppose. 

Truly, the only thing I did was give an on outlet for stress and added some kind of structure to her life.  In the end, it did pay off.  My roommate got herself on track and has been doing well since.  I don't know if my neighbor falls into the same category as alike as  these two individuals are.  Her dynamics are different--there are 3 older boys and her husband.  Sometimes, I wonder if I am falling into the same situation as before.  I certainly try not to be my neighbor's therapist or anything (in fact, she thinks I'm bossy at times anyway), but I do try to suggest things or at least give a different point of view or be a source of support.  Surprisingly, she does remember more than I have given her different for--her long term memory is there but her short term is lacking.

Anyway, I think this is a good reminder for me to realize my boundaries.  It is not easy as there is always a yearning to help someone in need, but at the same time, you have to be careful with yourself too.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I can relate so very much to this post. Unfortunately, despite my own eating disorder history and recovery, became involved with an alcoholic and much like yourself took him on as a pet project. There was a cornucopia of dysfunction on both our ends, but I can FEEL the insanity inherent in any addictive behavior and how the effects bleed out to those involved with the person who struggles. It is a definite reminder to keep boundaries in place that honor and respect ourselves, but also allow for consequences with the other person and do not set ourselves up for depending on them. I think it is a blessing that you did not leave her to care for your animals - I say that without any moral or ethical judgements, just simply because she doesn't appear to be in a place where she can offer the firm commitment you would need in order to leave them in her care and maintain peace of mind that they are safe. I look forward to reading more !