Once you reach recovery, you feel like you’re unstoppable. Cautiously yet enthusiastically, you’re reclaiming the life that addiction threatened to take away from you and you refuse to take a single day for granted. During the depths of your substance use disorder, it’s likely that any and all energy you had was continually spent on meeting the demands of your addiction. Now that you’ve been freed from the focus on consuming the substance that helped you run away and numb yourself from unpleasantness or accountabilities, you’re left with a lot of time to fill and endless ways to experience it all. This can sometimes lead to a predicament of how to handle all of these new facets of life all at once. When faced with relationships, work, finances, and developing healthy new hobbies, it may seem like long-lasting sobriety has become a juggling circus act.
Walking the Tightrope
Especially early on in recovery, you might feel like you’re walking a fine line between two extremes: feeling totally overwhelmed by all your responsibilities or falling into a pattern of behavior where you’re overly focused on only one aspect of your new life. These two extremes exist on a spectrum, and as you attempt to find balance, you may sway back and forth.
The side that makes you feel like it’s all too much, and there’s no way you can handle all of your responsibilities at the same time can quickly lead you to freeze. It’s reasonable to put things off out of fear since your recovery is ultimately your priority, and you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you may encounter a relapse trigger. However, hindering yourself from progress because you simply have too many decisions to make and are faced with too many options can ultimately cause you to sway too far to one side before you can catch your fall into the trap of procrastination.
On the other extreme, you may find yourself overly-involved with only one aspect of these new responsibilities in your life. Some lose themselves in new romantic relationships, others become consumed by their new job or hobby, but absolutely everyone who ends up focused on only one single facet of their new sober lives in recovery is bound to lose their balance and fall into old habits, repeating negative behaviors or replacing their addiction with a new focus.
As you walk this tightrope, you’ll need to adjust and shift your weight to keep yourself on track. With some time and practice, you will be as talented as an actual tightrope walker that takes the challenge on with ease. They, too, had to start somewhere and “learn the ropes” from the beginning, just like you. Practicing these exercises will help keep you in balance:
- Evaluate: and list all of the main facets of focus in your life.
- Be honest: with yourself about the areas of your life you’ve been putting off.
- Trust yourself: to know which neglected area needs attention first.
- Plan and prepare: how you are going to give more attention to what areas are lacking.
- Ask for help: if you need it. Therapists are professionals that can help you troubleshoot.
- Don’t lose sight: of your ultimate goal, which is to be healthy and enjoy your new and very full life!