“Do I have enough vodka to get through the day?” This was always the question before I got sober. If the answer was “yes,” I could focus on the little things like, what were my son and I going to have for dinner that day, or did I have an exam that day that I needed to start studying for (smh), or did I need to pay my phone bill that day or make arrangements to pay it later? If the answer was “no,” I was wondering what time the store opened, if my son was home he would have to come to the store with me. I tried to make it seem normal to him that we were walking to Rite Aid, yet again, to get the biggest bottle of vodka I could afford that day. Luckily for me, this only happened every other day. So, 50% of the time. That’s balanced, right?
By the end, I was hanging off a ledge by my fingertips. One strong breeze could’ve destroyed the semblance of a life I had, but I was hanging on for, not-so-dear, life. On the outside, I looked good. I was a single mom with a young son doing her best. I was in school, working on my engineering degree. I had friends, a nice place to live, a car, my son had everything he wanted, and I was seeing someone. On the inside, my son was going to my mom’s house every weekend so I could “study,” I was failing as many classes as I was passing. If my friends knew how much I drank, they probably would have made different choices. I couldn’t afford and eventually stopped making payments on my car and if my housing wasn’t covered by my crippling student loan debt, we would’ve been homeless. And my so-called relationship was with a completely unavailable, spiraling, alcoholic. If I’d had to hold down a job during this time, I’m sure my house of cards would have tumbled way before it did.
There Is A Solution
In early sobriety, I was told to listen and take suggestions for how to live and recover. So, that’s what I did. At first, I didn’t have much choice because I was in rehab, there were rules and a schedule but I still resisted, insisting that I should be allowed to do what I thought was important. I left school to go to rehab so I wanted to study so that I could still finish the semester. But I quickly learned that it was no good. My brain was not even capable of processing schoolwork. I had to let go and focus on what was the actual priority at the time: Getting sober and learning how to stay sober.
Once I was on a solid recovery track, I needed a job. I was blessed with a part-time job at my school. I focused on that for a while. I waited to get into transitional housing that would allow my son to be with me. When I was under the same roof with my son, I focused on him and on being completely sober around him for the first time since he was a toddler or younger. After that, it was time to go back to school to finish my degree and I was blessed with the opportunity to do that. Recovery, a job, school, and my son was enough to focus on for some time. Then I graduated, and was hired in full time at UofM. I added my health to my focus. I started going to the doctor and dentist and therapist and the gym. Please know that I didn’t do any of this perfectly. It was definitely a learning process and I made a lot of mistakes. In the beginning, there were still days when I could not get out of bed! The point is, I took one step at a time until I was ready to take the next one (or until my Higher Power thought I was ready.)
This is the example I use for everything since. Balance comes from prioritizing. The most important things have to come first in order for everything else to fall into place. My life is very busy these days but I have to make sure I take care of my health first, both physically and mentally (that includes my recovery,) or I can’t function at my highest level and I know this from experience. My son’s well-being and development is next on the list. I have to take care of his health and make sure he knows he is loved and that he is learning what he needs to. Then comes my job(s). I have to support my family and I want to do well and advance in my career. My friends and extended family are important to me so I find time to stay in touch with them even if I can’t be with them as much as I would like all the time. I am an introvert so I have to have time to myself also.
This is the big picture and of course there are lots of details and many decisions to make on a daily basis. But, the process is the same. Each morning, I wake up knowing that my recovery is most important because, without it, none of the rest would be possible. I plan to make time for meetings, and my sponsor and my sponsee(s). I am trying to lose weight and eat better now, so I am now making exercise part of my day. Last night and this morning I was more tired than usual so I went to bed early and slept in this morning instead of working out. This weekend, I have work and commitments so I will spend my time on them but I will make sure that next weekend I am free to spend time with my family and friends and do something fun. Last weekend, it was time to do something just for myself so I did that.
Let’s Throw A Wrench In
Did I mention that I have a 4 month old puppy? Life got a little crazy when we first brought him home a few months ago. I wasn’t working full-time then. I could make taking care of the puppy a priority. Now that I’m back to work, I have to rely on my family to help take care of him. There is no way I could manage all of this without help and support. While learning to prioritize, I was also learning to ask for what I need. If I need to be at work, I ask my family for support in taking care of my son and puppy. If I need to be at home, I ask my job to support my need to do that. If I need advice or emotional support, I call someone. One of the first things we are taught in early recovery is how to reach out for help and support. At first we need it to survive. Then we need it to thrive.
It’s All Possible
The thing to remember is, you are not in it alone. I learned to let my Higher Power guide my footsteps and the people who did this before me show me the way. I accepted what was really important and learned to act accordingly. I’m never doing it perfectly, but I’m progressing all the time.
This morning, I was doing a yoga routine that focused on balance. So hard! It turns out, there is a lot of oscillation involved with balancing, a lot of movement back and forth trying to come back to center. I was all over the place! But, I’m sure, the more I practice, the less I’ll drift off course and the easier it will be to come back to center.
Also related to balance in sobriety, here is one of our earlier blogs about taking it one day at a time. Enjoy!
What is most important in your life and how do you prioritize it? Tell us here or on Facebook!
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