Being able to find a balance in sobriety is an art only mastered through a difficult process of trial and error. My experience in finding a balance in my own sobriety after going through a long term recovery home took some time. I was successful after learning to balance my leisure activities like surfing, staying connected with the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, and working a job.
The major struggle I had at first was balancing my program with going out and doing fun things like surfing and going to the gym. Once I was newly out of the recovery home setting, I quickly started to dedicate all of my time to surfing and doing things that I used to enjoy. This was very fun at first but over a period of 3-4 weeks I started feeling miserable. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was no longer working a program to help keep myself sober – all I was doing was hanging out with friends and spending my time at the beach and the gym. What it came down to was having this issue pointed out to me by my peers. Through this I began to do the internal work on finding a level of balance. There are certain things that I must do in order for me to have a quality life ands stay on an emotionally level playing field. In order for me to be able to have an emotionally stable life, I needed to allow myself to do fun things and have a social life, but at the same time, I needed to take the time to work on my own recovery as well.
Another stumbling point that has crossed me in my sobriety was being able to balance my recovery with work. I work in an upscale restaurant where the only opportunity to make money is at dinner. I quickly found myself working 5 to 6 nights a week and neglecting to attend enough Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and participate in my own recovery. When people would ask me about it, my rationale was that I don’t hit very many AA meetings because of my work schedule and with out work I can not pay my bills. The truth behind this and something that I have learned in AA is, there is always a solution. I asked my peers for guidance and sought solution. The feedback I received was to focus some of my energy into going to meetings during the day or late at night, rather than going to the beach and gym all the time. I chose to start attending an additional meeting later at night throughout my week. Once I started to do this I began to see a more even level of balance in my life. I was participating in Alcoholics Anonymous, I was working, and I was doing the things I really enjoyed to do. What it came down to, is realizing that life is not all about having fun but that as an adult I do have responsibilities in order to keep my bills paid as well as to keep myself sober. By finding a balance between the three I have been able to continue staying sober, remain fully self-supporting and still have fun in my life and enjoy what I’m doing.
Another struggle that I have seen friends go through but have not had any first-hand experience with, is getting burnt out on the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. The problem that some of my peers encountered was that their life consisted of spending so much time at meetings that they missed out on the social aspects and ability to do things that they enjoyed. As result, they got burnt out on AA. What these experiences that my friends have gone through has shown me is that being on either extreme end of the spectrum, whether with recreational activities or exclusively going to AA meetings and not having any time for yourself, ends with a feeling of being burnt out. When you’re able to find a good balance between the two, and have healthy relationships as well as healthy fun, you’re able to thrive.
In order to achieve this balance, we must be willing to make sacrifices on either end of the spectrum. Whether that means sacrificing a day that you plan to hang out with friends in order to participate in your recovery, or making sure that your AA meeting schedule includes some time to spend with friends. Either way, making the sacrifice in finding the right balance has been crucial for me in order to having the willingness and ability to stay sober, because it reminds me that I have purpose in life.