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Boundaries: The Path To Freedom

I have always marveled at the paradox that our nation’s liberation from bondage is marked by a period containing so many parameters and guidelines. A holiday that requires us to adhere to even stricter boundaries than required of us during the rest of the year.

This is freedom from slavery?

In working firsthand with individuals in addiction and/or mental health treatment as they battle to launch their lives, we understand that the answer to this question is a resounding yes, and what lies at the core of Onward Living’s program design.

Here we share two meaningful connections between boundaries and freedom that our residents are experiencing on a daily basis.

#1- We need boundaries to find identity and live with purpose
Those in recovery will tell you that the unboundaried life without structure, discipline, and accountability became the deepest form of suffocation and imprisonment imaginable. That doing, using, watching, drinking “I want, whenever I want” became a form of “powerlessness” and the straight jacket that blocked him from living in accordance with his true goals, purpose, and values.

As the individual in recovery will tell you, it is the determination to stay within parameters and exert the capacity to rid something from one’s life with a fierce rigor that is the clear path to a life of true freedom (and often the only antidote to toxic tendencies toward issues with maintaining boundaries - enmeshment and enabling - which addicts and family members tend to know well).

At Onward Living, we assist our residents in breaking free from the struggles that have limited their ability to develop a sense of self and identify their interests, skills, and gain the freedom to set out on a path toward deeper, purposeful living.  As one of our Onward residents shared, “I had to learn how to stop doing all the things I thought I wanted to do to learn what I really wanted.” 

Through a platform of individual and group therapy, a community of safety in which to learn to vulnerably share and connect, and structured support for obtaining and maintaining a productive daily schedule, Onward residents remove the chains that have limited purpose-driven, emotionally and spiritually healthy living.

#2- We need boundaries to build independence and self-autonomy
The individual struggling with addiction and/or mental health often encounters the vicious cycle of difficulty with daily functioning and the ensuing consequences of limitations- job loss, academic challenges, social isolation, and the list goes on. Challenges to “launch one’s life” often strips a person of their sense of self-worth and value, causing them to further isolate and shut down from themselves and others.

At Onward Living, we focus on equipping our residents to build the skills and tools to live an autonomous life. This involves learning to live within accountability, structure, and guidelines as it is only through having the tools to work within parameters and boundaries with self and others that a life of independence is made possible.

Being held responsible for daily house chores, timeliness in program participation, consistency in employment, and developing routines for self-care and productivity is how our residents achieve lasting freedom from the slavery of emotional and behavioral challenges. When one is able to work productively, manage their money, and manage activities of daily living they can live a life that is completely autonomous which will enable them to feel happy and healthy.

As characterized by Pesach, and modeled by those in recovery, it is the process of limiting and confining ourselves, we were enabled to move forward conscientiously and purposelessly, rather than aimlessly. We need to implement the capacity to limit - fully and completely - in order to achieve ultimate liberation.

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