I called my sponsor one afternoon because I had a particularly bad day. I felt like there was too much pressure on me, and I was starting to choke. Everyone in my life wanted guarantees of my sobriety, and every time I was upset, people in my life were worried I would relapse. It felt like I had a noose slowly closing around my neck. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be angry, sad, or upset.
If I had human emotions, people were worried about my sobriety, but I wasn’t. I knew that I was stable, but I didn’t have anyone in my family I could talk to, so I called my sponsor. First, he told me how proud of me he was because I didn’t pick up a drink, I picked up the phone. Then he told me to take a breath and tell him what happened.
I proceeded to vent my frustrations, and he listened patiently. At the end, he told me not to worry about what other people thought. What’s important is my recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Other peoples fears and concerns are not something I need to deal with today. What they thought of me was none of my business. I needed to create boundaries.
He told me I was allowed to set boundaries in a loving, respectful manner. This was a terrifying concept to me because I had never set a boundary in my life. I asked how to do this, and he told me to simply say, “thank you for sharing with me, but I don’t feel the same way.” Then I could change the subject or walk away. I didn’t need to explain myself for an hour or justify my emotions.
Taking my sponsors advice about growing a backbone and setting boundaries was the most enlightening and uplifting piece of wisdom I needed to hear. It may seem very simple to others, but for this alcoholic who let everyone run him into the ground, it was liberating. I’m forever grateful to my sponsor and will cherish his advice forever.
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