Setting Boundaries Has Me Labeled as 'Judgmental'
Dear Annie: I am struggling with the fact that I will be coming face to face with family members after a year estranged. I drew a line in the sand last year when my niece assaulted another guest in my home. "Lynnie" is nearly 40 and has always been the life of the party. However, her drinking has gotten out of control. She had a DUI three years ago and proclaimed the court-ordered Alcoholics Anonymous meetings "a joke."
I was hesitant to host her last year, but I thought if I didn't have a stocked bar and didn't loan her my car, the visit would be OK. It was, until her last night with us. Her cousin "Kim" drove to my home to fetch her for a girls camping trip. Kim took Lynnie to the store with her to buy supplies. This included alcohol. After I went to bed that night, Lynnie was drinking and Kim asked her to stop. I woke the next morning to find Kim making a hasty exit while holding an ice pack to a bruise on her head! I ordered Lynnie to leave. I told her she really needed to quit drinking and I don't ever want to be around her if she is drinking.
What happened in the following weeks really surprised me. Not only did Kim decide to forgive and forget; she joined Lynnie in berating and guilting me. Both women have texted me that I am a judgmental hypocrite and ruining the family. I do like a beer on a hot day or a margarita at a Mexican restaurant. However, I have never hurt anyone or broken the law. I am not out of control, ever.
Soon I will be facing both of these young women at a family wedding. What do I say if I am asked to kiss and make up? I don't want to! I think boundaries are a good thing. -- Strict Auntie
Dear Strict Auntie: Your niece certainly sounds like she has a problem, and I think you are wise to not allow her in your home until she gets her drinking under control. It's a shame that she didn't take her court-ordered AA meetings seriously, but there is nothing you can do for her until she admits she has a problem.
Kim's situation is a bit more complicated. She obviously loves her cousin very much, but she is putting herself in danger by spending time with Lynnie. She already suffered a bruise, and God forbid she gets in the car with her cousin after a night of drinking. Attend a local Al-Anon meeting, and invite Kim to go with you, so that she can be better equipped to handle a loved one with a drinking problem.
Annie Lane's second anthology, "How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now, featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.