Boundaries are disliked by many…


I had a fall out with my family.  To make a long story short my mother is still a closet drinker and it is effecting the whole family negatively.  My brothers, sisters and in laws on all sides are communicating that she is a negative influence and gets in the way of the family’s happiness.   They do not go directly to her though and they are all in denial about her alcoholism.
A few years ago she would have been found dead if my dad didn’t wake up and see her on the couch and call the ambulance.  Since then she hasn’t made amends and I have seen her drunk.

I do not want to deal with this influence.   She was drunk around my 3 yr old.   My sister and brothers are angry at me that I have called a halt to my getting together at family gatherings and I do not call anyone, because they are all unsupportive of me.  This is sad, but I just have to love them anyway and hope they come back and want to communicate. They will not talk about why I am gone at all.   They are just angry and tell me to get over it.

Here is my question.  My dad, who has and is in complete denial about my mom’s drinking is trying to contact me by email and has sent my daughter a Valentine’s Day card.  I really appreciate it.  But I am not strong enough to, shall we say, “put my hand in that blender” and start up a rapport with him.  I am afraid, because he/my family will always blame me and put me down for my difference of opinion.

I have never thought I would be alienated from my family, ever.  It is weird to me to not respond to an email because I am so responsible and I am conscious of other people’s feelings.  But this time I am really struggling with what to do.

If anything, my family has said things like “You really need to handle this with your mother”.  I ask myself, why is her drinking my problem?  Plus, do you think throughout my life I haven’t tried to get along?   I have tried what I consider every angle, just to be shot down and made to feel really bad everytime.  My angle’s usually involve, “getting over it. ignoring her ill comments”, “being nice, being compassionate and understanding, and loving under any circumstance”, “taking breaks and then going back to try again”, “being straightforward, in a nice communication when my feelings are hurt” (that one works for a little while, then she just goes back to her old behavior).  This taking myself away approach is a last resort and I realize I could lose my family forever and I am very sad over it, but it is a better alternative that interacting with my mom.  

So what do I do with my dad?  If I tell him I think she’s drinking, he won’t believe me and I will be in such a world of hurt again for stirring up the pot.   It is better to just avoid the whole situation.   I would like to say, “Thank you for the kind emails.  And for the beautiful card.  I love you.  Have a nice life, don’t worry about me”.  And that’s that.  But that would be super weird, so I am just ignoring the emails.

I have started going to Al-onon and it is helping but I am having trouble getting to the meetings because there is no one to watch my daughter.  My husband works 14 hrs a day, most days.  Seriously.
Thank you,


You are putting up boundaries and people often don’t like boundaries in general. In regards to your father, there is no harm in keeping in e-mail contact with him. Be polite and don’t give him a lot of detail about what is going on in your life. He knows that she drinks, but his solution is simply to put it out of his mind. Your family doesn’t want to deal with it, because of your mothers wrath most likely. While unfortunate, it is a strong thing you are doing and I applaud you for it. I would suggest you keep in touch with your dad. This way if things get better you will have an ally when you attempt to reconnect with the family.


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