The “B” Word

The “B” Word


Having healthy boundaries is like building a lovely little fence around your life.  But for most of us in recovery, the concept of boundaries is very new.

We often had limited or non existent internal boundaries or personal boundaries and most often, we were not honoring the boundaries of others.  

Learning to set boundaries begins with total honesty.  You must first get honest with yourself and then practice honesty in every area of your life.  

This allows you to build integrity from the inside out.

Something I notice often with those in early recovery is that they either have loose boundaries (allowing anyone to pass through)  or solid wall boundaries (no room for growth).

I love a fence analogy when it comes to boundaries, so that is what we will use here…

Loose boundaries: can be crossed easily through the openings or over the top

Stone wall boundaries: impenetrable.  Won’t allow for movement or growth.  Can cause isolation

Healthy boundaries: Allows for you to see through the slats and decide who is allowed in.  Room for growth. Good height and adequate protection.

I often notice that those who have loose boundaries are also attached to a victim mindset. Taking off those victim goggles will definitely help you see things clearly.

We teach people how to treat us by what we allow.

And what we allow is what will continue!

Here’s a little truth bomb for you:

You are 100% responsible for your own life.  This includes whom you allow in it, and what behaviors you are willing to accept.  

If you would prefer to not constantly live in resentment, then I encourage you to take some action.  

Setting healthy boundaries begins with self awareness.  Sit down and make a list of things that you would like to change about how others treat you. Then I challenge you to look at that list and see how many of those behaviors relate to you.

My first list included things like: I hate being judged, I dislike gossip, I don’t like being lied to.  

But when I did a personal inventory, I was the one judging, many of my relationships were based around gossip, and I had lied to pretty much everyone in my life.

 The process of change starts with you. Make changes in yourself and watch how it changes the world around you.

Now the hard part: setting boundaries with others.  

As you begin to honor your personal space and your time, you will notice that some people around you will not be happy with your choices.  

They may have liked that they could ask you for favors all the time knowing you would say yes. Or that you were the one to call with the latest gossip.  But as you slowly back away from these behaviors, you will grow exponentially.

This is one of the ways that you show up for yourself in life. HONORING your own needs.  

You may lose some people in your life and that’s OK. You will begin to attract other people who are trying to live their best lives and those people will become your new tribe.  

Work on strengthening your internal boundaries by staying strong in your convictions and then it will be easier to set external boundaries.  

You will be so happy when you have built a lovely little fence around your life.

Finding Balance In Recovery

A lot of people think that balance is just an illusion.  That our lives are so busy and overwhelming these days that achieving any semblance of  balance is an unattainable goal.

I would like to openly disagree with that.  I look at my life and my recovery as one in the same.  Without my recovery I would not have a life.  So to me, recovery is a lifestyle and that lifestyle requires balance.  

I imagine balance as if it were a walk on a tightrope.  You are walking the line (can you hear Johnny Cash singing it? ).  

Sometimes you lean too far to one side in a situation (i.e. getting angry, allowing people to cross your boundaries, lying), but you recognize the need to get your balance back and you do that by correcting the behavior (healthy boundaries, amends, rigorous honesty).  

The ability to recognize the desire to correct the imbalance is due to being substance free.  You are thinking clearly and you can feel when things are getting out of balance.  

You know that if you keep leaning too far in one direction that you could fall.  You have fallen before and you remember all too well how that felt. You don’t want to fall again.  So you make a strong effort to regain your balance.

I also believe  that we each have an invisible safety harness.  For some, that harness is their Higher Power.  

But the safety harness can be whatever you use as your sober support system.  Your family, your community, your sponsor. We all must have a safety harness in place.  We cannot do this recovery thing alone.

If that were the case, we would have quit substances by sheer willpower and recovery would be non existent.  

That safety harness has our backs when we feel like we can’t take another step and we need to hang for a little bit just to get our bearings.  That strong support is a safety requirement for all of us.

Walking the line through life may sound like a difficult task, but I find it to be just enough of a challenge to keep me on my toes.  That fine balance between accepting life on life’s terms, but not accepting mistreatment.  Being of service without being taken advantage of.  Taking action in our lives without trying to control the outcome of situations.

Some days we feel like we are zipping along on our line, and other days we take cautious baby steps.  The important thing is that we keep going.  Living life in sober recovery is a beautiful gift. So walk that line with joy in your heart and take confident steps.