Boundaries…Those Little Somethings That Keep Me Safe

Boundaries was a funny word for me to learn about in recovery. While I was acting out I thought the more limitless I was then the better I must be doing. That delusional thinking put me in some very high risk situations. When I came to recovery and started to apply the tools of recovery to my daily life, I found out that the boundaries I was starting to learn about were a whole new area of living. Its purpose was not to keep people away from me. On the other hand, these boundaries were put into place in order to keep me safe while I was with other people. A measuring stick of my daily activities. These boundaries soon became like a comfy security blanket that fit me to a “T”. Unlike thinking that I was being persecuted for having them in place. It has an opposite
feeling in giving me freedom to live while knowing I have self respect and the respect of others, that’s safe.

18 thoughts on “Boundaries…Those Little Somethings That Keep Me Safe

  1. Boundaries, this one is a tough one with me. I am finding at almost 40 I do not know often what is appropriate and what is not, sure there are some obvious things but I find it is the subtle thing that lead me to middle circle behaviors and very close to acting out. In these early days of sobriety I find that I am relying on those who have come before me to help teach me. Teach me, well really just teach me everything. I hope that as I grow my self respect I will continue to evolve and I will put boundaries in place to keep me safe and sane. Thanks, Ally

  2. Ahh boundaries….What are they? That is something I might have said 3 years ago. 3 years ago I had no boundaries and did not understand the concept. As a result, I allowed different people in my life to take control over me and my life and dictate what I was going to do or how I was going to behave. If this was not done directly, it was done indirectly by me behaving in a codependant way to try to meet other people’s needs or expectations of what I should be doing. It never mattered what I wanted, who I was or how I felt. Where did this take me? To the bottom of the barrell and to the depth of my addiction. But that is all behind me. “We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.” I had to go through what I went through to be where I am today. And I like where I am today. Today I have boundaries. No one can take control of me or my life today. Today I matter, who I am, and how I feel. Today I take care of me. How did I get here? Through this program, my sponsor, and my higher power. I did not get here alone because alone I would be dead. Thankfully I had a lot of people along the way to help me and make suggestions. What I had was willingness. So, today, my boundaries are there and they help me to have healthy relationships
    with myself and other people and they help me to know when to walk away from unhealhty relationships. Thank you boundaries, where have you been all my life? Oh, you where here all the time, I was just not able to see you, but now I do.

  3. Early in recovery I learned that if I wanted to stay sober and lead a new, healthy life I would have to set boundries. Some I put in place right away from what I heard at meetings, while others I learned about in SAA reading materials. It took some time but with the guidance of my sponsor I defined my 3 circles and vigorously adhere to them expanding my outer circle while reviewing my middle and inner circles so I can steer clear of relapse or slips. It’s the best tool to keep my addict away and let him know there is no room for him in my life.
    These boundries, as we call them, are our personal set of laws, a system of regulations to help us stay sober and stay alive.
    “He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame,
    but whoever heeds correction is honored.”
    Proverbs 13:18

  4. I never knew what boundaries were until I was in treatment. But having learned what they were I can now look back and see that I had very little boundaries in my life. Boundaries for me show up in two places. The first is in how I allow other people to interact with me. In most of my life I allowed other people to affect me, to control me, to tell me what to do and I did it, to walk all over me, if you will. They did it, but I allowed it. I never established boundaries letting anyone know what was acceptable or unacceptable behavior. As a result, I felt degraded, pushed down, worthless and empty which fed my addiction. Today, in recovery, I have learned to be assertive. I can share my feelings with others about how their behavior is affecting me. And I can make decisions for my own good so that I do not keep myself in situations that are not good for me. It has taken me a long time to get here and it was very difficult and painful, but is a beautiful and free place to be. The second place boundaries show up for me is in how I interact with other people. In this way it is about control. My natural behavior is to want to control everything. So why wouldn’t I want to control someone else, tell them what to do, how to handle any situation that they are in. Today I don’t do that. Today I can listen to my friends and I don’t have to tell them all the time what they need to do or what my opinion is. Sometimes I can just listen to what they have to say. If I feel that I want to offer some advice, I share it from my perspective as telling them what I would do if it were me. In this way I am not over stepping any boundaries and telling them what to do. Again, it is a wonderful and free place to be because I feel that I am being more of a friend in listening and when I truly feel concerned I can then share my feelings about what I would do. Today in both places I can work with these healthy boundaries all as a result of what I learned in treatment and through the process of working my program, a lot of work with my sponsor and from working with others in the program and for that I am truly grateful.

  5. A boundary is a barrier which is not to be crossed. I have crossed more than I care to think about in my life especially when it came to addiction. All crossings had consequenes that I knew about, and yet , I chose to cross. I am responsible for my choices and that includes violating boundaries. My sponsor and higher power have helped me see the need to respect boundaries, one day at a time.

    Thanks for reading,

    God love you.

  6. Boundaries. I’ve discussed this topic a lot with my therapist. I often fought with him during this discussion, feeling that boundaries were a way of holding down my will and imprisoning me. Perhaps I felt this way because I truly did not want to get sober.

    Today I have a completely different view. The boundaries I am setting now are my safety net. They keep me safe from my addict.

    The voice in my head (my addict) tells me I want no boundaries, because boundaries prevent me from being who I really am. They force me to do what others want and not what I choose. This is a lie to myself. When I truthfully look at the boundaries I am now setting for myself, I discover that all they do is keep me away and safe from the people, places, and things that free my addict to destroy me. The only thing tethered or bounded is my addict, not the real me. And the addict is mad. He lies to me and tries to convince me that I am a slave to my boundaries, when all he wants is to make me a slave to this disease.

    It seems crazy that this conversation actually takes place in my head, but that is the strength of my addict trying to deceive me. It takes real moments of clarity to see the truth and fight off the addict’s argument, but each time I do this battle, it becomes easier to see the truth. I need boundaries to protect me from myself.

    I’ve been working on my circles, which are the primary boundaries the addict must set for him or herself. I’m far from done, but at least I have made a start to weaving my safety net. With the help of my sponsor, therapist, and the fellowship, I will shore it up and make sure there are no holes big enough for me to slip through.

    Of course, there are consequences to my acting out that now cause people to scrutinize my actions more than I would like, but this is about regaining the trust I have broken. My boundaries will help me in this process, and ultimately, I will be truly whole and truly free.

  7. Boundaries outline the path through the quicksand. When I used to believe that I was invulnerable and blessed by the universe, I never believed that I really needed a map – I was so smart and so talented, that I could always find the right path and avoid disaster.

    But when walking through quicksand, is it any wonder that not paying attention to, or knowing where the safe path through the sand is, ends in being sucked under and death?

    Where do I find this map? In myself and my map maker friends. We have fallen off the path so often that if we are honest with ourselves, we can draw our own map of all the hazards we need to avoid. Sometimes, in fact always, we need the help of a more knowledgeable map maker – our group, our sponsor, our therapist. But one thing is for certain, without an accurate map of the boundaries protecting me from hazards, I will eventually kill myself.

  8. Funny how things work out. I did not want to share on this topic yet last night so I waited until tonight and tonight this topic is incredibly appropriate. I have recently become friends with someone new and boundaries have become something that I have learned to practice with all my relationships that are coming into play with this one. This new friend moves a little too fast for me in wanting to be a best friend and not always listening to what I am saying. For me to have true friends it takes time and trust and patience for a good relationship to develop. So in the meantime I have had to set a few boundaries. I think in some cases I may have caught him by surprise but he has responded well and better than that, I have felt good because I am speaking my truth. I am taking care of myself by being honest. I am not just letting things go and hoping that they will change or get better or go away like I used to. I am realizing that the only way I can make something different in a relationship boundary issue is when I tell that person how their comments or behavior is affecting me. So I have been doing that and it has been helping me to keep myself safe and keep my relationships healthy. At the same time I cannot go to the extreme and put up so many boundaries that I am not letting anyone in. I need to watch for this. I have been alone for so long that it is quite possible that I would do that. So I will need to walk that fine line of setting the boundaries that I need to set that keep me safe and take care of myself while still allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to let people in and develop friendships and relationships. I could not do any of this before coming into recovery and into this program. But today I can do this and am learning how to do this better and better each day. I am a work in progress and thanks to my sponsor, my fellows in the program and my Higher Power I will continue to grow and learn and move forward on my journey as I set the boundaries that need to be set and stay sober one more day.

  9. Boundaries alone sounds like a bad word or even hard to hear. But wow the difference made when boundaries from our recovery are lived out. What a contrast b/c the same word “boundary”, in our program, provides freedom. The delusional thinking of our addict hates the thought of being “bounded” but the program teaches us how to do so & really live life!

  10. I have just begun to learn what appropriate boundaries are, let alone put them into practice in my daily life. I was not taught growing up what appropriate personal and relationship boundaries are. I never knew where I ended and others began. This created such difficult and painful experiences of dependency and co-dependency in my personal and professional relationships.

    All of my romantic, personal and professional relationships could be summed up in one idea…I made anyone and everyone my “god” hoping against hope that they would fill up what was lacking in me and make my pain and fear go away.

    Of course, that never happened. Sometimes this person or that person would make me feel good for a time, but never for very long or to the extent that I needed. And, usually, I would eventually drive them away by clinging so tightly I suffocated them or by acting out in order to make them go away because I was too afraid to truthfully tell them how I felt or that I wanted to end the relationship.

    So, I walked through life boundariless, lost and medicating my pain by acting out sexually in progressively destructive ways. I eventually reached a point in my life and sexual addiction that I didn’t even try to have relationships of any kind any longer…romantic, personal or professional. I just wanted to act out and make it all go away.

    By the grace of God I found my local SAA fellowship. Through working the Steps with a sponsor, using the tools of recovery and “plugging in” to the love and support of my groups I have actually started to experience what it is like to have my own personal space (boundaries), to diffferentiate between myself and others. I am able to let them be who they are and solve their own problems without trying to take on their problems and the emotions connected to them. I am able to focus on my own life and recovery, understanding all good things that have and will come to my life will do so through continuing to stay sober and work this beautiful, life-giving program.

    Day by day, little by little I am seeing boundaries replace dependency, chaos and unmanageability in all my personal and professional relationships. As a result I am not trying to be anyone else except David…and, I’m actually starting to like “me” today. Truly a miracle of recovery!

  11. First, I would like to get current. Its been a rough two days. I had a number of assignments at work and I was unable to focus. I was filled with resentment from a recent episode. The resentment tapes kept replaying in my head over and over and over again. It made it very difficult for me to focus. I had to do a 10th step on the episode and felt better afterwards. I am still struggling with boundaries in my program. I allow people to push their needs over mine. I allow people’s actions to consume with resentment. I allow people to disrespect me and break me down. I’ve had periods where I’ve been able to place boundaries on the mentioned issues, but I seem to allow these defects to come back in. At least I have a better awareness today. The greatest gift of SAA, were the 3 circles. These boundaries, I understand and try to live by. They’ve helped me stay sober from my inner circle behaviour. Even thoe the last two days, have been rough, I know “this to shall pass”

  12. I can relate to some of the previous posts and they have given me some optimism. I have lived my whole life without boundaries. I let my mother guide my life and then my wife, never taking control of my own actions. My actions were usually governed by my desire to please other people. I no longer know what makes me happy. I am early on in the recovery process but I can already see the need to set boundaries and explore what i need from relationships.

    • Boundaries I understand today are:

      1.)Have a K-9 filter on my pc and have someone else have the password
      2.)Have a phone with no internet
      3.)On evenings that I am feeling a little squirrely, book end with sponsor
      4.)Outer Circle – green light; Middle circle – yellow light; Inner Circle – Red Light
      5.)Always tell on myself to my therapist and sponsor
      6.)1 meeting a day

      Boundaries I don’t know how to implement or understand yet:

      1.)How to tell someone they are offending me
      2.)How to say no to someone
      3.)How to stop people pleasing
      4.)Voicing what my need is
      5.)Not taking things personal
      6.)Letting go of resentments
      7.)Letting go of fear
      8.)Being friends with someone I have a different point of view with
      9.)Telling someone how I really feel

      Today I am grateful for the awareness and a program of recovery, where I can move towards healthy boundaries.

  13. A wire fence around an elementary school playground is a boundary. Children have them to protect them from their own poor actions. As an adult, my only boundary is what I set for myself. I can cross the street and not look for ongoing traffic if I want. And, if I do, I run the same consequences that a child does for doing the same. As an adult, crossing the boundary is my own judgement, my own choice…whether exercise good judgement or poor judgement.
    In the days that led to my addiction and while I was in my addiction, I crossed many boundaries that a prudent and sane person would never do. That led me to go further and further into the pit of my addiction. For me, the boundaries were alway there. I just ignored them. I chose to cross the boundaries.
    Now in recovery, I’ve committed myself to avoid not cross the boundaries. And, in fact to avoid getting close to them altogether. The analogy of the street that could be crossed is still there. I have just acknowledged that I want to cross it without looking both ways for oncoming traffic; and, so committed to myself to stay away from the street altogether.

    • Today I’m wishing I had stuck to keeping away from my boundaries. Today, I’m recommitting to staying away from my boundaries!!

  14. This share today is so relevant. I have realized I had no boundaries at all in the way I treated people I was rude I was sexually suggestive and inappropriate in my discussions with friends co workers my kids my wife everyone I had no filter nothing to say hey think about that I just said whatever came in my head and I know I offended so many people. I would touch my wife or rather grope her in public which was so disrespectful and rude and inappropriate. Yet it was all under the guise that I was just joking. Why was I joking what need did I feel I had to entertain people especially with no boundaries being rude.

    Today I apologized to my wife and today milestone to people and speak to them with respect. I don’t feel the need to make them like me with my rude innuendo and jokes I know they will like me or not because I can just be me. Not me trying to get everyone’s approval and liking me because I was so insecure. I now speak from my heart I know the difference. My head has lead me to where I am which was rock bottom a week ago and now my heart with gods love and guidance will lead me in my recovery. I feel I have so many tools to help me my father god my wife my sponsor my therapist my brothers in SAA. And I have gods love in my heart.

  15. i believe in boundaries ,I know that i must make every effort to be clear of what im doing so as to not cross and act out .for me there is no negotiating with boundaries ,i am to early in recovery to dance on the line and be safe .I try to recognize when i am close to the boundaries i have set for myself also when i need to add others as my addition tries to get creative in other ways that may need new boundaries .I have to be ready to adjust to different situations they may need boundaries .i have come to realize that this protection is my friend and not a prison .

  16. Boundaries I don’t know how to implement or understand yet:

    1.)How to tell someone they are offending me
    2.)How to say no to someone
    3.)How to stop people pleasing
    4.)Voicing what my need is
    5.)Not taking things personal
    6.)Letting go of resentments
    7.)Letting go of fear
    8.)Being friends with someone I have a different point of view with
    9.)Telling someone how I really feel

    As mentioned earlier, I understand the above list. I can say that I have at least half of them done. However, some of the others are just too emotionally charged to deal with. The more I get emotionally out of control, the more I find acting out as a option that, even though it would only last for a few minutes, the aftermath would be so harmful.

    And to that point, I know that if I tell my spouse of my cravings, it would be devastating.

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