Do I need to create boundaries for my parents?
Yesterday, I was pretty frustrated because I feel my dad often shames everyone he talks to. I don’t think he realizes it, but that doesn’t mean I have to just go along with it and let it cause me to build up resentment and anger that isn’t appropriate.
Last night we actually all had a pretty good talk about Mandy, about addiction, and about surrendering to Christ. I feel, overall, it went pretty well. They listened and seemed like they were trying to understand.
Some of the things I shared:
- Debating with Mandy or Luke or anyone that is opposed to the Church and its teachings is really a waste of time and is what they want to happen to “show” that what they’ve been told is true about Mormons
- The only way I can really be my best self is by surrendering my life and will over to God and to His Son Jesus Christ
- I can’t be like the Pharisees who see themselves as “perfect” or “spotless” because they are keeping all the letters of the law, but their “hearts are far from Him.”
- I have to ask myself why I’m doing what I do – is it to be seen of men or to connect with God and feel closer to Him
- The talk by Elder Nielsen about the Prodigal Son really applies to Mandy and her progress
- President Uchtdorf’s talk about grace is also so helpful in realizing what is required in order to live close to God
- Debating with Luke or Mandy to be right is a manifestation of pride and is not how Christ taught us to deal with non-believers
- My issues with addiction stem from fear. I use pornography as a way to escape or cope with the fear (or I have in the past). Mandy has had fears too and didn’t know what to do – she coped with her fears by taking a road that she thought would help her or be the most secure. We all get distracted from time to time and lose our way down the path of true happiness. The goal is to be able to stay close to God and His teachings so this doesn’t happen.
- I’ve learned so much from Becky about how to deal with the Mandy situation – love her and build on common beliefs and then wait. Trying to force her or manipulate her or prove that she’s wrong and we’re right will do no good at all, but instead, it will hurt the relationship and cause her to distance herself even more.
There are probably other things that were shared but these are some that come to mind.
It was interesting: I felt the Spirit pretty strong as I shared about what I’ve learned through my addiction recovery and through the 12 steps. I felt good about sharing what I’ve learned through Mandy’s experience. But after I shared, Dad talked about how he feels bad for the people like Luke or Mandy who are so lost and think they know more than he knows about his beliefs. He compared the 15 apostles to these people that have left the church and wondered how they can think they know more than these mature and experienced men.
I took one shot at sharing that none of that mattered – that’s the right vs. wrong comparison and it’s not going to help them see the light.
But I could tell it was going nowhere and so I tried to just change the subject.
Anyway, it went ok.
Boundaries…what do I need to do to help things be different than they’ve been in the past?
One thing that really stuck out to me about Elizabeth Smart’s comments at the UCAP conference were that, when she got back from being kidnapped, she wanted to just go back to the way things were. But she couldn’t. Things were different and she had to live a “new normal.”
I feel the same way in my recovery. I have to live a new normal. I can’t continue to do the sames things I’ve always done. I can’t continue to deal with problems and issues the way I have in the past.
I realized more this time than any other time that my dad is a shamer – he says degrading things and criticizes quite a bit. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s more direct and open.
But no matter how it is, it’s not good. It causes resentment and anger in me. It causes me to want to isolate and protect myself. It causes me to want to just go in another room and not even talk to him at all.
I feel that I never had much to talk about in terms of feelings with my parents. We just never talked about how we felt about things. Without this option to share feelings, I let them build up and then eventually would have to find some way to release the anger, the bitterness, the resentment, and the fear. In came addiction…
I’m not blaming my parents at all. I am just trying to recognize what the new normal has to be if I want to continue to live in recovery.
My New Normal
I’m living in recovery from addiction to pornography, masturbation and lust one day at a time. This means I don’t look too far ahead and I don’t look too much in the past. I live today and work to submit my will to God so He can help me in all areas of my life.
Living in recovery means I’m trying every day, every moment, to eliminate feelings that, in the past, led me towards addictive behaviors and then addictive actions:
To help eliminate these feelings from my life, I’ve “buried my weapons of war.”
- I don’t watch much TV.
- I don’t participate in social media.
- I don’t play games on the computer or my phone.
- I don’t stay up later than everyone else to work.
- I try not to point out faults of others, but instead I look in the mirror.
- I try to submit my life and will over to God as I feel these feelings.
I feel these feelings come back when I see people I’m closest too playing games on the computer.
I feel these feelings come back when I hear criticism for things that are either pointless or are none of the critics business.
I feel these feelings come back when there is arguing or bickering.
I feel these feelings come back when there are expectations put on others to be more than they need to be (or can be).
There may be other feelings that I haven’t recognized yet, but I want to share these at some point with my parents so they have a better understanding of where I’m coming from and what I need from them if they want to be part of my new normal life.
I looked up boundaries at LDS.org and found a talk titled, “The Heart and a Willing Mind.”
One of the quotes I really liked was this one:
The road given by our Father in Heaven is clearly marked, but the patterns and ways of the world can deceive you.
This is really what I was trying to tell Dad last night. We all get deceived. We all fall short. No matter how much experience we have, or knowledge we have, or whatever, we’re all broken and need Christ in our lives.
Heavenly Father’s path is marked clearly, but people still get lost and we need to love them back to the right, not force, not shame, not manipulate, and not condemn.
I like this too:
We just need to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). The philosophies of men will ever be there, but they do not carry the promise of eternal life or even peace on this earth. Put your whole trust in the Lord.
Trusting in the Lord is another way to say “submitting my will to Him.” Leaning unto my own understanding is doing my will instead of God’s.
And this is one of the best parts of the talk:
God, through His Son Jesus Christ, has established boundaries. These are the commandments that He gives to us to help us make the journey safely. When, with “the heart and a willing mind,” we are obedient to these commandments, we go through a change process that alters the way we think, the way we feel, the way we dress, the way we live, what we eat and drink, and the way we serve others. As Alma the Younger said, “They become new creatures” (Mosiah 27:26). These boundaries protect us. They are essential to a safe journey.
We learn that when we cross over the Lord’s boundaries, we are often caught in a quicksand of sorts. The ways of the world are often like that quicksand, and they can be so destructive. They seek to divert us from the Lord’s boundaries—His commandments. These worldly ways (drugs, drinking, smoking, living together without marriage, some of the music, and on and on):
- Seem very enticing,
- Appear to be the normal way of life,
- Seem to be accepted by everyone, and
- Are extolled in television, on the movies, over the Internet, in videos, et cetera. These things lead us outside the boundaries the Lord has set. When followed, they bring despair and devastating health, financial, and other problems.
I’m grateful for these words.
I’m grateful for my study today.
I look forward to living today in recovery!