In my time in AA I have had to constantly reassess my boundaries and boundaries of others towards me. Who and what I am responsible for, and equally importantly, who and what I am notresponsible for. I saw this list of boundaries sometime ago. Here is what the list means to me and my life:

  • It’s not my job to fix others

As an AA member I have responsibility: I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that I am responsible.I have a responsibility to ensure that when someone reaches out, the AA hand is there, it doesn’t have to be my hand, others can be asked to help. Once they have been introduced to the meetings and the programme they have the information needed, how they use it (or not) is not my responsibility.

  • It’s okay if others get angry

We have all seen some people in AA get angry for whatever reason, I have, in the past, agreed with them and jumped on their justified bandwagons over some decision a group or Intergroup has made. For me today, that anger is not good – for me or those around me. Keeping calm and doing the next right thing is far better for me. I can let others have their anger, justified or not, it’s theirs to do with as they wish.

  • It’s okay to say no

Real BIG one for me this is. In the past, I have put other things in my life off because of AA commitments. Given over too much of my time for something someone else could do just as well, if not better. But in my thinking, they wouldn’t do it as well as me. It is okay today for me to say no, as long as I am not saying no to everything, still do my share of the work, and let others gain the experiences I have already gained.

  • It’s not my job to take responsibly for others

I have no responsibility for others, once we take someone round the meetings and introduce them to the programme of recovery, that responsibility becomes theirs and they have their path to walk. I need to know when to step back and allow them to make their own mistakes.

  • I don’t have to anticipate the needs of others

Someone said to me, “I don’t know what is good for me, so how would I know what is good for you?” What another might need could be far different from what I would need in the same situation. So, as long as I am there to help when asked I have no need to think what would be best for them.

  • It’s my job to make me happy

“Most people are as happy as the make up their mind to be” it says in the Just For Todaycard… Wow, what revelation that was to me! When drinking I thought if I had a better job, different partner, had a different upbringing, lived in a different area I would be far happier. Today I accept my lot in life and fit myself too it. I don’t need external influences to be happy, I can accept the good and bad things in my life with good grace, accept the things I cannot change, and change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference comes easier today.

  • Nobody has to agree with me

I love AA, it gives me the right to be wrong, it gives me the right to completely change my mind and no one will pull me up over it. But with that right, I have to be able to give others that same right too. AA’s Concept IV also gives me the right to be heard, even if no one agrees with me.

  • I have the right to my own feelings

Today, I have the right to my own feelings – sad, mad, bad or glad. I am not on happy street all the time. I have good days, bad days and in-between days. For me, I have to have the bad days to appreciate, all the better, the good days. Life on the one plane would be very boring. Ups and downs are good, ask anyone who has been hooked up to a heart machine!

  • I am enough

Peace and contentment, for me, is priceless in AA. Through the work I have done on myself, I am happy with the way I am right now, still striving for spiritual growth. I remember well, at 4 months sober, saying “if it doesn’t get any better than this, it will do me fine” and it has continued to get better. I am a version of myself that I am happy with, even with my faults and failings. But I have had many years of peace and contentment in my sobriety and still have room to grow.


At the start of this article the theme of it was supposed to be boundaries, on reading it back I have spoken more about my personal conduct and what I accept (or don’t accept!) from others. In the time I have been sober in AA, I have made many mistakes and will probably continue to. There are people not in my life today based on personal choices I have made. They have not liked what I have decided or I have decided not to be part of their lives, and that includes a sponsor and a sponsee based on their attitude towards me.

Arthur Z.