The global race to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 is on. And, though the directive to stay home and shelter in place sounds simple enough on its surface, it represents a new challenge for the relationship dynamic of many couples and families – especially those where one member is in addiction recovery.
Before the need to self-isolate, each member of your household probably went about their days separately, returning home in the evening with various stories to exchange. However, now that schools are closed and people who can do so are working from home, your world has become much smaller. You and those who live with you will have to find new ways to maintain positive relationships while observing quarantine. Healthy boundaries are the answer to doing so.
What Are Boundaries?
In therapy, you may already have learned about boundaries and the need to set them. You can think of boundaries as imaginary lines that you draw around yourself to enable stronger relationships with others. Your goal in creating these lines is not to shut others out of your life, but rather to define your values and emotional limits.
As a woman, you play a variety of roles throughout your life – daughter, granddaughter, sister, mother, friend, spouse. Having distinct parameters and clear limitations for each of those roles can allow you to relate to others with more honesty; there won’t be any confusion about where you stand.
Taking Care of Your Needs in Quarantine
Women often take on the majority of caretaking responsibilities for their families. When you’re isolating with other members of your household, this obligation might become even heavier. If you have children, you’re now their teacher as well as their mother. You may be doing more cooking and cleaning than usual, now that you are only leaving your house for essential errands such as picking up prescriptions.
Some women feel guilty if they aren’t constantly available to take care of their family’s needs. However, maintaining healthy relationships requires you to know how much you can handle before you start feeling stressed, anxious and overwhelmed. When the other members of your household are testing the boundaries you set, it’s OK to tell them you need space. If you feel close to lashing out or relapsing because you’re reaching your limits, recognize the signs it’s time to take a break for your self-care. Go to a room in your home where you can close the door and meditate quietly, or sit outside for a few minutes listening to the birds sing until you feel better.
Staying Healthy and Happy
In these uncertain times, having healthy boundaries will give you a greater sense of control. There is nothing wrong with announcing that you need to spend some time alone. You are also well within your rights to change the subject if talking about coronavirus spikes your anxiety.
Being in self-quarantine with people you love can allow you to spend more quality time together. However, don’t lose sight of your needs while you’re in isolation. Boundaries enable you to be a better friend and family member.
Many women avoid seeking help for substance abuse problems because they are in denial about the harm they are causing themselves and those who love them. At Canyon Crossing, we are working to break down the stigma around women and addiction with compassionate care. Call us today to learn about our women’s-only continuing care program.