224: Navigating Relationships – Boundaries, Growth and Genuine Connection (Sort Of)

In this episode, we explore the idea of examining unspoken expectations and obligations within relationships. We realize that constantly doing favors can create resentment and inauthentic connections. We discuss the importance of clear communication and setting boundaries to establish healthier, more supportive relationships.

This episode touches on a few common themes in psychotherapy:

  • Codependency: We explore dynamics where people feel overly obligated to meet the needs of others, often at their own expense.
  • Boundaries: The conversation highlights the importance of setting boundaries to protect our own well-being and create healthier relationships.
  • Communication: Open and honest communication is essential for expressing needs and navigating change within relationships.
  • Self-awareness: The episode emphasizes the importance of reflecting on our own patterns of behavior and underlying motivations.

By reevaluating our expectations and communicating openly, we can build more fulfilling and supportive relationships.

How to find us and join the conversation:

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Email: RecoverySortOf@gmail.com

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Transcript:

welcome back it’s recovery sort of the podcast where we explore the struggles of Life the challenges of mental health and Recovery in the spaces between we express our personal views on life here and this podcast is not meant to replace medical advice or tell anyone the right way to live this podcast is best used as a place of curiosity and questioning to accompany you on your journey be aware there is strong language here we go [Music]

hey Billy hey how you doing Jason good to see you ah it’s good to see you um I’m doing good I’m uh working on realizing that I have operated from a place of expectations and obligations in my parenting and in my husbandry and in my being a son and a friend and everything like uh you know I can remember at times earlier on in my life looking at people who had kids uh maybe while they were using you know substances and they hadn’t taken good care of them and then they would come into the recovery process and I would watch them you know find some recovery but their interactions with their kids

I would hear this uh Dynamic of like where they would overcompensate by by buying all these gifts for their kid to try to make up for the lost time or the ways they had treated them and and like it was easy to see from that place before I had kids I was like obviously this is what you should do in this situation um and like realizing in my life there’s some of that going on in some other ways and different levels and uh catching those patterns of where I want to be mad at people but understanding a little bit of being able to reflect on my role in all this stuff um so all this came about I was interacting around my house uh we had a week where our normal um babysitting crew of grandparents wasn’t a available for us and we needed some help from our older kids and so uh they helped us out it was wonderful but then like two days in a row uh one of my kids came to me and asked me for a favor that evening after they had watched you know their younger siblings for us and uh it just didn’t feel good like it didn’t feel good to feel like what had the favor that had just been done for me was being weaponized against me to manipulate me to have have to give my kid what they were asking for in return um and on the on the second night in a row that this happened like I

I had already happened to come upon my own struggle to say no to my kids because my my kid was asking the favor was to borrow something of mine that I didn’t really want to loan out but I I feel I’m obligated to in my role as dad somehow and uh so like this whole thing like my my initial frustration when it happened was was not the reaction I would hope to have I was like if this is how it’s going to operate uh don’t do me no more [  ] favors you know um because I there was something in me that said there needs to be a line here like this doesn’t feel good for me and so it stepped up kind of grumpily and angrily and set that line in that moment and you know we my daughter got mad at me and and we didn’t talk for a few days but it it gave me time to not try to fix it and to sit with it some and see what was going on there like what’s happening why do I need to be frustrated and what can I do different in my relation with her to not be there anymore um and trying to figure out exactly what I’m asking for right am

I being unreasonable like did she do me a favor and maybe I should just like acknowledge that and do her a favor back or do I already like there was a another part of me saying you already do her enough favor she’s 18 and you like take care of all this other stuff for her and like you know how is going to feel if I say something like that and all these things so I I I see you got something to say go ahead I’ve been talking enough well immediately that’s okay in our house I I guess we refrain from this idea of doing favors for each other like that’s not a I’m getting thereo a thing you know what I mean like we help each other and support each other and those things because we love each other and we’re a family and that’s what we do for each other dude that’s so [  ] cool it’s very different like I

can do a favor for a friend because that’s not sort of the expectation but in the household I think we just operate on the expectation that if you can help in an area that someone needs help you’re kind of expected to help and there may or may not be some uh rewards for that I mean certain things like we you know the older girls like they get an allowance because they help out with certain things around the house right uh my oldest daughter does a lot of taking you know my son around different places and running errands for us but when she starts to like I don’t know what you want to call it like complain or buck on some of that stuff it’s like well hey we’re we have this relationship where we this is our expectation it’s not you know it’s not favor for favor it’s this is the expectation that you’re not in a full-time job right now and we are supporting you and paying for your car and your phone and giving you an allowance and so when we need things done there’s an expectation that you’re supposed to do it we’re not asking you to do unreasonable things right right right and so yeah the idea of like

I guess in our household we don’t look at it as favors like that well that’s cool so I I’ve had a few weeks to sit with this and and where I got to was extremely similar to that concept um where I ended up coming back back to my daughter was one I acknowledged that I struggle to say no and because of that that amps up and disregulated my nervous system in that moment so when she asked to borrow that thing and I got a little paralyzed feeling like I didn’t have the choice to say no especially when she’s throwing the favor she just did for me in my face it felt like to me um I that was my part right I need to know where my line is and just be able to say no and trust that people are going to be able to deal with that however they feel about it so I acknowledge that and I apologize and I’m getting better with that right this is this is a piece of re-evaluating where my line is and so this this situation actually helped me greatly because now I know I I don’t feel that obligation anymore in some areas right I don’t think that just because I have a car and my kid has a license that that means they get to use my car like I drive my car a certain way as to not use it very much so that I don’t have to

repair it one day sooner or you know buy a new one one day sooner and like every time my daughter uses that car to Joy Ride or what however she wants to use it like that makes that day closer and on that day when I’m writing that check she ain’t going to be there right so like I need to decide what’s right for the use of my car and how it gets used and I just need to be okay with that and if you want a car go [  ] work for one like I don’t know what to tell you you know and like that was that’s been freeing to feel like I don’t have this obligation of just because I decided to own stuff I must let anybody use it and really just got me thinking a lot like my relationships with my friends like what am I in relationships with friends for what do I need them for what do they need me for how do we relate and use and share with each other and like we don’t ever use each other’s [  ] cars I mean under some extreme circumstances sure I could see it happening with my some of my close friends but like that’s not what we do it’s not about each other’s stuff really it’s it’s about sh in connection and like care about each other and so that’s what I wanted my relationships to be so where I got to get back around to I know I’m long-winded today okay he just took me into a way nether place I

might bring up in a minute so cool cool cool so uh where I got to was I don’t do any favors for people in my household what I come in and do for my household and where I spend 90% of my [  ] life is making money and doing things that make my household a more comfortable environment for the people I love and the people around me right right I do pay some of the bills that keep the electricity and the Wi-Fi and I got to go to work all week to do that so like I work hard to keep these people comfortable and hot water and air conditioning and like you know the dishes are done and the laundry gets done and all these things and like none of that is favors and I don’t ask for [  ] back to be honest with you that’s what I do because that’s who I want to be in the world yeah and I believe like for me I learned that in recovery and it came from the idea of like don’t lend money you’re not willing to lose yeah it’s the same with my time and my energy and what I’m going to do for other people it’s like if you ask me to help you with whatever something at your house or because I’m handy or whatever I make the decision when I do it that I’m not going to hold that against the person or have an expectation of any kind of return I do what I can do when

I can do it right the freedom in that is the ability to say no to things and not feel guilty about it because if when I do things I do them because I can and I’m willing and I want to and I’m able and when I can’t I can’t right and I don’t feel a guilt about that yeah no it’s freeing as hell it’s freeing as hell so that’s what I approached my daughter with I apologized I said look this is what I do because this is who I want to be in my life this is what feels good to me to treat the people around me like this and spend most of my time generally trying to improve and keep them comfortable yep what you want to bring to the house from now on you bring to the house but I’m not operating on a system of favors anymore right so it’s very similar like I I I do think on my end like for yours you’re you’re saying like these are expectations and I’m going to tell you that and try to hold you accountable to him and like I am too but almost in a different way like my version is is if you can’t keep up with your favors mine are going to slow down you know it’s not so much like I’m going to keep mine and then try to hold you accountable it’s like

I’m going to show you what you don’t get done for you when you don’t do things for the house like I don’t know what else to say about it so similar similar idea yeah and I I think there’s like helping other people just feels good right helping other people for the sake of helping people feels good exactly and in our like family especially for each other like that’s what we try to do it’s like if if you need something I will go out of my way to try to do it for you not because I’m keeping a ledger or a chalkboard and I think that was an issue for a lot of my marriage was that I did that a lot I’m like well don’t you see this week I gave up you know this night with my friends and I didn’t do this or I did this for you and now when do I get mine back and like keeping that like chalkboard of you know who’s got more ticks on their side and it didn’t work and it didn’t feel good right right because my side always has way more ticks on it than anyone way more my side I’m not counting all of yours because some of yours you were supposed to do for me you know like that kind of [  ] I think Kim would say I did this either do or did or or both or yeah I think so yeah and so I really try to get away from that you know in my marriage and then it became more obvious in other areas of my life as well like you know it’s just I do what I can when I can because

I want to you know not out of some weird you know hopefully you’re going to owe me later you know favor for favor thing that feels like jailhouse stuff you know it it definitely does not feel like the way I want to relate to the people I love today but I mean this is my daughter Billy and I had a big hand in raising her so I’m going to assume that the ways I modeled being in this is what I gave her you know yeah I mean could be that in some level like this is the way I was operating with the world under I do favors and y’all do favors and this is all the expectations we have on each other and this is how it must be and I don’t know I I don’t hold it against her like I I do think she got what she got from the environment she was raised in but like yeah it’s just not where I want to be anymore and that’s it’s been freeing to understand that like of course I need new [  ] agreements with the people I’m in relationship with I’m a new person like I’ve changed drastically I can’t keep operating under old relationship agreements yeah and and being able to like grow and change in our families and be who we are and and like be open about that stuff you know and our house you know I think with the kids like I’ve gotten at least in my head you know way more like patient and understanding and approachable whereas those weren’t things

I would say that I was when they were younger but just because it’s that way in my head doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the way that they feel I think that they should sometimes and having those conversations with them and and being able to acknowledge like hey I recognize this is an area that I was doing this before but I’m trying to be different now I want to do something different I recognize that wasn’t that wasn’t good for me or that wasn’t right for me you know with my kids has been uh interesting because you know most of us I think operate from that perspective of we think everybody sees things the way that we see things and I think that my changes are obvious and glaring to everyone around and it’s like they don’t really notice all that much yeah yeah you know a good thing for this I I tend to shave my beard off every spring and nobody ever [  ] notices when it’s a drastic difference for me it’s like God damn youall you disappoint me um no I I think you’re right and and like some of the stuff I’m really proud of is that like I gave this the space to not try to text my daughter or or talk to her about it before I was ready for sure right and when I did approach it I approached it cautiously and I tried to acknowledge my parts in it and I gave her space to like

I I invited I said hey the house I want to live in isn’t a house where we got to separate and not be able to say what we’re feeling like I I want you to know that like I’m inviting that if you got some feelings about what’s going on between us and I and I texted her on the days we weren’t talking and said hey it’s a new day I still love you and stuff like that like the whole time just coming from this place of the guy I want to be and that’s so freeing man it feels so good and and just to be able to say to her look this is all new like I I don’t know either right I’m trying to figure it out as I go but this is where I’m at right now this is where I feel like I’m at right now yeah can we try to work with that for now and see how it goes you know yeah and it was interesting so what I was thinking about earlier and I was like oh you know I have a I guess you’d call it similarish situation in my life with like sponsorship through 12ep stuff like I’ve always had this mentality of like yeah you know people ask you to sponsor them and you kind of you know more or less just say yes and then you just meet them where they’re at and if they want to do some stuff and call and all that it’s great and if they don’t whatever you know I’m just here to help in whatever way right right and I’ve been reassessing some of that lately because for me I’ve noticed like when someone asked me that question and

I agree to do it I am putting some expectations on myself I am putting some obligations on myself you know what I mean and then when that’s not reciprocated by the other person but then they still hold me to those obligations almost it’s weird and so it was a situation where there’s a guy I talk to him occasionally not I mean not any more than anyone else you know so the sponsorship title is really just some fictitious title yeah and then uh you know he was celebrating an anniversary he’s like hey are you going to come and give me my Medallion and all that stuff and then here I am gone out on a night I didn’t feel like going out going to a meeting that really wasn’t you know what I felt like doing that day and and you know taking time away again from my family and my home life and whatever to go do some obligatory deed because I agreed to this relationship and then I’m like well I what is your end of this [  ] Arrangement you know what what obligation do you have in this situation to call you and tell you the date right not even it was a text but you know which makes it even less personal but and again it’s nothing to do with that particular person it has to do with me like I’ve always

operated on those conditions and I’ve it’s not been any different right you know so now if I want to change you know how do I want to go about implementing that change in my life what do I want that to look like how do I want that to be is that a specific question I want to go sit down with a couple different guys and be like hey this this is a situation you know I I think I’m reassessing my role here and we need to make a decision because I’d rather just ditch this title and have no obligation to you and then if we continue to have a friendship or a relationship that’s great but this weird obligatory tit fortat thing seems odd you know I don’t like it okay so so how does it feel just picturing saying that to one of those three people or few people you were thinking might need to have it like what does it feel like to just picture yourself saying it to that person and then walking away from that conversation well I mean my personality is I struggle with I want everyone to like me all the time I fear rejection I don’t want people to be angry at me or mad at me or displeased you know it’s like I get it and so it feels very awkward and uncomfortable um it feels like they might not like me or be mad at me over the whole situation yeah I don’t know things that make me angry usually

inspire me to do something too so maybe that’s not terrible maybe they need to be mad at you yeah you know maybe that’s part of their Journey yeah and I hear people say things similar to that that sound really good I mean I see it you know my wife is way better at like setting boundaries and saying those things that are uncomfortable able to say and and all that stuff and there’s parts of that that I admire there’s also other parts that I’m like oof like that feels mean like that feels you know hurtful like if it feels almost the opposite of what we’re talking about because the truth is I gave up like an hour and a half of my time to go show someone some love and support that really cost me next to nothing you know so it’s you know and I’m trying to weigh that out as well well but think about what’s the other side of that coin right somebody like me could come in and play Devil’s Advocate and say uh is that the being pissed on right are you enabling this person to continue to not look at their life and get closer to a a fatal relapse by not you know holding them accountable to actually loving themsel and doing any of the self-searching work that’ll

create change in their life so like would it be better for them to be pissed off than the in on you’re doing yeah that’s the counter right right and that that becomes that you know I forget what you know there was a saying I heard recently about that like in in recovery it’s like brutal honesty can sometimes save your life or you know some something to that effect and I can’t remember the exact saying but that was the the premise of it is I’d rather be brutally honest and save your life than overly friendly and watch you die you know and it’s like I think it pits it too much to extremes can be why does honesty ever have to be brutal why can’t it always be compassionate honesty with Grace attached of like this isn’t judgmental or critical but like this is what I see from this side and you don’t have to think look I might have bias maybe it’s not true but like maybe ask other people you trust maybe they see the same thing like that doesn’t sound brutal you know that just sounds like hey this is what I’m looking at man I love you and I don’t want you to miss it if it matters

yeah I mean if if that’s the truth it’s your truth it sounds like yeah you know is it your truth is doing nothing a waste of time well I think in the case of the anniversary thing it more has to do with now I feel inconvenienced out of an obligation I don’t know that it specifically has anything to do with fear of their well-being yeah it might not but like I mean I could say it in those words sounds nicer but right what if we but what if we ignore the fear of their well-being you know what I mean what if we we need to care more about these people that have asked us to care for them that’s what he asked for he said hey can you show me how to care about me cuz I don’t actually know how to do that yeah and you’re saying sure I’ll show you how to care I’ll just wait till you call me you know know like I I don’t know maybe that’s I mean that’s what I think the biggest role of me uh helping people in therapy is is the fact that I give a [  ] right you know and there’s a a if you don’t trust me trust Irv yum very famous therapist who says the same thing like right it’s his relationship with the people that changes them and like I don’t know wouldn’t that be the same for all

humans it’s a lot to think about you know and I I have no idea what the right answer is but I’ll say this the initial concern for me in my head isn’t this person’s well-being cuz I’ve been in similar situations you know moved away from people we don’t talk much a year later it’s their next anniversary and here we are and like I know their mom and she brings cake balls to every anniversary and like and I like this person and at the same time what am I going to talk about and share about them and their recovery over the last year yeah that’s what always gets me weird am I going to say hey uh yeah honestly I heard what you heard tonight that’s what they’ve been doing you know they haven’t done any step work with or nothing like and I think for me there’s a weird subtleness to it all that has to do with I look at a lot of Rel like would we still be friends in continual relationship if we didn’t have this weird title on it you know what and that comes up with like that can come up with family you know what

I mean like I have this you know relationship per se with my brother for the sake that he’s my brother but that’s really it if it wasn’t for that we probably would never talk and we wouldn’t go out of our way to see each other and am I okay with that like is that is that worth it is it good and being a person that struggles with you know that underlying feeling of like well no one really loves me no one really cares about me they only have some weird oblig this is some weird obligatory [  ] that you’re giving me you know don’t you want to just be friends with me for the sake of me like would you call if you didn’t have some reason that you had to like that [  ] so I’m always challenging those ideas of like does anybody really like me do I really have any friends or people that care about me how do you challenge them what do you mean how do you challenge those ideas like how do you go about challenging them most of the time I just say well that’s just like [  ] like it’s you know I have some relationships with people that aren’t based on that I do have some long-term relationships with people that are j

ust friends and some of it is like well what are these friendships and relationships you know what I mean they’re just interactions that happen between people through the course of a life and some of them might be based on reasons you know and is that so bad I read this book 4,000 weeks a long long time ago at this point but like he expressed the idea that uh make a top six list of things that matter to you in your life right and then cross out the bottom three and like his idea was that having more time for the most important things that actually matter to you it makes a more content and happy life than trying to fit in these 10 things you enjoy because it just takes away from the things you really enjoy way more at the top of your list and so like I don’t know I kind of sub SC cribe to that idea and like in a lot of ways that’s the way I try to guide my life whether it’s with belongings or or anything commitments like I don’t talk to family members like that that you’re describing uh I have a a

half brother and a half sister and I don’t really talk to him at all because that’s the kind of relationship we would have like we talk because we’re obligated obviously because we don’t talk cuz we don’t feel obligated and like right yeah cousins uncles aunts same thing like I I talk to the people that matter but within my own household I’m trying to make those relationships matter what do you mean you know what well I want like I will tell my kids like this is your sister like you’re supposed to love and support and help her you know what I mean this is your brother you’re supposed to help him and build him up and you know like I I want I want those values to exist in my household with my kids and with me right you know what I mean I’m your parent I love you and I do all these things to support and guide you and and like I joke with them all the time in a joking sort of serious way I’m like when I get old please don’t stick me in a home I hope one of you guys is going to take me into your house like I don’t want to be in a [ __ ] home yeah I they laugh cuz they’re like you’ll be out in the woods somewhere doing whatever you’re doing you’re not going to be in a home yeah I don’t want to do the home either but still it’s like those you know what I mean like so in one hand I want

my kids to have those values but then I don’t live those values in my life cuz I I do maintain a relationship with my sister um but she’s close and it’s convenient and you know we get along now better than ever you know I don’t think we have anything in our DNA that allows us to want to keep relationship or the ability to keep relationship with people we don’t interact with every day like there’s nothing that has changed in our DNA over the last 15,000 years and that is not how people existed able to communicate with people that they don’t interact with every day cuz that was your whole clan yeah so like it’s like the idea of when I’ve been on job sites with people and we work out and we we’re like best buddies for like eight months and then the construction world you get sent to the next job site and you guys are apart and you don’t talk you don’t call each other you never see each other for a year or two and then you’re back on a job site and it’s like you’re back to working out every day and it it’s one of those phenomenons I don’t think we’re actually built as living creatures to adjust and accommodate to that really yeah but that’s where I guess I wonder like I hear those people and of course judge Myself by the standard of like those people that will say oh yeah I like

talk or text my dad every day and then we have lunch on Sundays and you know we get together once a week and like they feel like they’re making time and taking the efforts to invest into those relationships miss the point though I think you’re missing the big background story of that Billy those people have worked those relationships into a place where they feel rewarding and they want to do that regularly the relationships you have aren’t those right you know what I mean those are two like you’re like beating yourself for not doing all this stuff that somebody’s doing that they’re getting benefits from and yours is like crushing your soul as you try to do it because it feels so lopsided and and all pressure on you H and like I don’t know that doesn’t seem very fair yeah that’s [Music] true have you found that listening to the recovery sort of podcast has helped you in your day-to-day Journey please share the message of compassion and well-being with the loved ones in your life connect with us more at recovery sort of.com Facebook Instagram threads YouTube and other social media spaces and have a great week [Applause] [Music]