After 8+ recovered years, I’ve changed my tune a bit. I used to think that non-stop recovery was essential to lifelong health. Don’t get me wrong, in early sobriety, we have to work our asses off if we are to fully recover. Without question, we must go to any lengths to get better. That means that we never procrastinate, never ignore our conscience, and actively seek out opportunities to give back. That means that we take rigorous action. We write inventory, we read it, we pray, we meditate, we give service, we give to our families and we make our amends – all without hesitation. We put our spiritual growth above all else and we don’t stop until we are sane once again. And yes, we will always continue doing the work.
But one thing I have learned is that there is a time for everything. Sometimes I focus more on my recovery, sometimes more on my family, sometimes more on my career. I’ve also learned that we can’t give every second of the day and every cell in our body to working with other addicts. Why? 1) because we’ll burn out due to self neglect and 2) because if that is our only source of fuel, then what happens when we stop? We won’t know how to be okay without helping people 24/7. What happens when we go off into the world to pursue the rest of our lives? What happens is that we suffer. We must learn to be okay whether we’re helping people or not.
The answer: Balance.
When I look back over my path, I realize that the reason I am still strong, happy and successful is because I didn’t go off the deep end in any direction. After a few gung ho years, I pulled back a bit to focus on my family and my business. I also pulled back to take better care of myself. After working non-stop with knucklehead teenagers at the (total waste of taxpayer money) recovery school, I sensed myself burning out a bit. So when I left, I exercised more, I played tennis and golf, I went to the beach, and I nourished my creativity. I also got back to praying and meditating. Other times I gave more to my friends and family. And yet other times I stretched myself with work and starting a business.
I now realize that it isn’t too healthy to go overboard with any of these things. We can and will burn out. And then what good are we to ourselves, to others, to recovery, and to God? That’s right, we are no good at all. The point of recovery is to always be okay, so that we can stay recovered throughout life and always be in the position to give back if need be. There is no point in burning out. All of the people you help rushing around will wonder if they were following the right guy when he goes nuts again, relapses and destroys everything he worked so hard to put back together.
Don’t burn out. Listen to your gut. Give yourself what you need, when you need it. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes if we are doing so to stay fit for others and for God.