Striking a Balance in Daily Life
For most of us who are new to recovery, balance can be a very unfamiliar thing — so much so that we may even be resistant to it. A life lived in active alcoholism or drug addiction rarely has any semblance of balance, moderation, or peace. Most of us jumped between extremes in our disease, always pushing the limits. When we get sober, we may still feel the urge to seek out extremes wherever we can. We revel in emotional highs or wallow in dramatic lows. Most of us don’t seek out balance, or even like the thought of achieving balance. We may not have experienced much balance in our lives while we were drinking or using, but it can certainly benefit our lives now.
What Balance Means in Recovery
Seeking balance in recovery doesn’t mean that we stop feeling joy or sorrow. It doesn’t mean that we stop having fun or doing exciting things. But it does mean that we stop desperately trying to escape from ourselves — instead, we work to find a peace within ourselves that allows us to experience all the highs and lows of life without needing to drink or use. Doesn’t balance sound better that way? We will still have fun. There will still be happiness, sorrow, excitement, and even boredom. But if we aim for balance within, we can stand steadily with whatever is going on in life. It isn’t about being boring — it’s about inner peace. For most of us used to the frantic chaos of alcoholism and addiction, that can take some work. Luckily, the 12-Steps are a great guide to living a full and happy life in recovery, and they will naturally steer us toward a little more balance in ourselves and our lives.
Give Meditation a Try
Meditation is highly suggested in the 11th-Step. Practicing meditation can be difficult at first, and even annoying for some. The minds of alcoholics and addicts can be resistant to quieting but the longer we keep trying to practice meditation, the more it does for us. It begins to calm and heal us not only mentally but emotionally, and sometimes even physically. Controlling our breathing and attempting to be quiet can be restorative on many levels. Subtly at first, but over time, meditation produces more balance in our minds and our emotions. We’re a little calmer, a little more peaceful. When something good happens, it doesn’t mean that we don’t feel happy or excited! It means that we are more fully present to experience the good things and good feelings. And when something negative happens, that same calm peace is there with us again. It doesn’t always mean we are unaffected, but it does mean we can weather difficulties with more rationality and less difficulty than we used to.
We All Benefit from Balance
Balance, like everything in our new lives in recovery, takes practice. We aren’t expected to be perfect. But as we remain in recovery and grow in our lives, we may begin to see the utility of this initially unappealing skill. If we sleep all day, we often feel depressed and we don’t get anything done, even the things we would like to do. When we don’t sleep enough, we’re tired, irritable, and still unlikely to do anything we need or want to do. It’s easy to see why balance in our sleep schedule is important. Most areas of our life work the same way. Recovery literature tells us that we are extreme, defiant people with a propensity for going to extremes. We can easily recall all the trouble this has caused us. Humility, balance, and peace are vital elements to maintaining our lives in recovery, and we risk selling ourselves short if we turn our backs on them.
The treasures of a full life in recovery — including freedom, fulfillment, happiness, joy, meaning, and many others — are things we all deserve to experience. The tools we need to be present enough in life to experience all of this won’t always seem like the most exciting options. Let’s think about it again. If you ate your favorite food for three meals a day, every day, it wouldn’t take long before you’d never want to eat it again. But if you have your favorite food once a week, you can always enjoy it without getting sick of it. For most alcoholics and addicts, imbalance was a hallmark of our daily lives. Our emotions were extreme and we wanted too much of everything, all the time. Once we are in recovery, it simply isn’t healthy for our new lives to resemble our old ones, at least not internally.
We may have the same job and family and home if we’re really lucky, but we wouldn’t be secure in our recovery if we kept the same thoughts, attitudes, actions, and behaviors we had in our disease. To maintain long-term recovery, we must watch out for those old patterns and continue aiming for new, healthy ways of being. Sometimes, it happens subtly that we find something new to act like an alcoholic about. Think about “workaholics” — being a workaholic is rarely as serious or destructive as being alcoholic. But many people who enter recovery find themselves seeking to fill the void within by using something outside of themselves again, just like we did with drugs and alcohol. Practicing balance in our daily lives can safeguard us from letting this happen, allowing us to remain steadily growing and calmly open to the wonderful experience of our life in recovery.
Alcoholism and addiction are often characterized by constant extremes across every dimension of life. The idea of balanced, healthy living may seem not only impossible, but undesirable. If you truly want to achieve long-term recovery but find yourself unable to do so, Jaywalker Lodge can help. We are here to help you begin your journey in recovery and find balance, so you can live the happy, peaceful life you deserve.
Call us now at (866) 529-9255.