Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sober Balance

One of the toughest things that I face in recovery is how to balance my life as someone in recovery with what I perceive as my life as a "normal" person. When I sit and take inventory of both facets, I look at each separately; sobriety and life outside of sobriety, and then figure out how to balance the two together. It's a never ending tango, to be both sober and live in a non-sober world. In reality, however, it's our perception of ourselves and our recovery that lead to the most success.
For example, in early recovery, I had great difficulty imagining life outside of the drinking bubble I had lived in. My comfort level being sober was non-existent. I was so focused on what I was missing out on, what people would think, where to avoid life. It never occurred to me that people just don't care as much as you think. That most of the stress I felt about the image of recovery was coming from within myself. Ultimately, the driving factor that kept me sober at that point was that I likely would have either ended my own life or caused irreversible emotional damage. Somewhere, somehow I knew this and made this my biggest priority, knowing that I could deal with the other aspects later.

After almost seven years, this balancing has now become the focal point of my recovery. I am secure enough to know that I will not drink again, I have tools in place within my head and life that allow me to know that when I want to drink, I just need to do x,y,z to get the thought out of my head (mostly, I just think about how fast my life would go back to being entirely destructive and unhealthy and that usually does the trick).

And for the most part, today, I am comfortable in uncomfortable situations; ie, making people feel OK that I don't drink or declining that mojito that I missed experiencing without too much of a longing face. It's just easier to simplify the situation for others, less questions and more "normal" interactions.

The real balancing act is within myself. Do I really feel comfortable with myself as a sober person? Am I taking real emotionally responsibility every day of my life? Am I doing the things I need to do to create the most healthy environment to bring out the best things about me and my recovery? These are daily questions.

In all honesty, I would sometimes rather pretend that the world doesn't care that I drink or not drink as this is likely the case. We project that people want us to act the way we did when we were not sober. I personally think I was entirely more fun and free spirited when I drank, but I don't value that as much as I value the fact that I am so much more me now. That I am able to be coherent and responsible and loving towards myself. Because, that was not the cause back when. It's about changing our perceptions about ourselves and what we value in our core being. I used to value the fun. I used to value what people thought about me to such a degree that I let my personality be dictated by it.

Today, I value fun as well. There is no doubt that I am still a blast to hang out with. I just don't get belligerent or throw up. I don't take unnecessary risks beyond what I know I can be responsible for the consequences. If I put being sober and being drunk on a balance, I would find that drinking was so much heavier in my life, and not in a positive way. It's just a matter of what the balance is measuring that we need to keep defining. It's our choice and responsibility to change the thinking behind ourselves. And, once we can do that, what we choose to balance becomes evident.

4 comments:

Princess Powerless said...

You wrote:

We project that people want us to act the way we did when we were not sober. I personally think I was entirely more fun and free spirited when I drank, but I don't value that as much as I value the fact that I am so much more me now. That I am able to be coherent and responsible and loving towards myself. Because, that was not the cause back when. It's about changing our perceptions about ourselves and what we value in our core being. I used to value the fun. I used to value what people thought about me to such a degree that I let my personality be dictated by it.

I was talking with my mother on the way to the airport today about how my circle of friends has shrunk signifiantly in sobriety. I used to have tons of friends, from the commuter bus driver to my next-door neighbor to my professor. In sobriety, I realize that so many of them were not "real" friends. To them, I was a crazy girl who invited them to parties at my house and acted outrageously.

Now I have real friends. They are the people who have stuck with me through my craziness and the personality changes that sobriety has brought. The amazing thing is that in this new, serene state, I would rather have a few very close friends than 100 acquaintances.

The opposite was true when I was still drinking.

summer said...

Loved this post...am in early sobriety , and this was really what I needed to read today....thanks for your wonderful insights!

Anonymous said...

It has been really refreashing to read your blog. I to am in recovery and at times struggle with this idea. I have been sober for eight years. The sober me is a great person and people love her but I often struggle with how others feel about me not drinking. Most of my friends or social circle dont know my history. In many ways that is a relief. I am young and it can be a confusing situation when I ask for a coke cola at a gathering. This are the challanges that mostly go on in my brain not everyone at the party. Keep blogging thanks. I will try to find you on facebook.

Teresa Antoinette said...

thanks so much for this, Kim.