Balance in Recovery
Hello. Dr. Anita Johnston here, and I am at Nikko Bay in Palau, in the backyard of my very, very dear friend, Cliff, who goes paddleboarding in probably the most beautiful, pristine water in the world. The key, clearly, to paddleboarding, is
The key, clearly, to paddleboarding, is balance.
But here’s the thing.
It’s not simply about balance.
It’s about pleasure.
It’s about the joy of living your dreams.
Cliff is living his dreams, and this is what he does every day, right outside his back porch, in his backyard. Now, not all of us get to live this kind of dream, and nor should we, because we all have different kinds of dreams. Each of our dreams is unique unto ourselves, but the key for all of them is to find the balance. The balance in your life between what it is you need to do in order to achieve your dreams, and, then, how to enjoy the process.
You see, that’s the case for recovery as well.
Because in order to recover, it does require a certain kind of balance between doing what you need to do (that may not feel really great in the moment) and making sure that you’re also focused on what brings you joy.
Because you know how you want your life to be, because you have a dream for things being better, you do what needs to be done, and (here’s where the balance comes in) you also do what brings you joy.
So, the process then becomes one of saying Yes.
Saying yes to your future dreams and also allowing time in the present moment to enjoy what life has to bring.
It’s a bit of a paradox. A paradox that requires balance, because that’s what life requires. Recovery is really no different from life. Balancing between getting the money you need, or finding the time you need, or the attention that you need, and also doing what you need to do to get things done. It requires balancing your needs, as well as the needs of others. Not taking care of others’ needs at your own expense, but also not just looking after your own needs, and not being concerned at all with relationships.
The idea of balance is a critical part of recovery. It’s different for each person, of course, because we all have different dreams. And for all of us, recovery is going to require some kind of balance between caring for children, or a mate, or parents, or friends, or careers, or projects.
How do we balance the attention that needs to go towards all of that and the attention that needs to go towards what we need for our recovery?
Cliff is a friend of mine from many, many, many years ago, and he’s the epitome of balance, and also the balance in life. One of the things that many people who struggle with disordered eating experience is that they don’t quite know how to balance giving and receiving. Oftentimes it’s the concept of receiving that is the most difficult.
Many, many years ago, when Cliff was on Guam we became friends, and my entire family befriended Cliff. He was just like another brother. Over the years, when he needed family or he needed a place to go, we were more than happy to share whatever we had with him. The years passed, and then a huge typhoon hit the island of Guam, where we were living. It pretty much devastated my parents’ house. We lost the roof. It was as if something came in and blew everything around, emptied all the cupboards and poured water on it all.
Well, Cliff’s an architect. My mother, at the time, was a widow, and it was Cliff who came to her rescue, many, many years after she had taken him in. On Guam, there’s this powerful concept of reciprocity. When you’ve known somebody a long time, you recognize there will always be a time that the person that you’re helping will one day be able to help you. And the time will come when you’ll be able to help the person that’s helping you. It’s an idea that’s embedded in the entire culture.
So what I’d like you to think about, in terms of recovery, is when it comes time for you to receive, for you to receive the help that you need, and you find yourself thinking, “Oh, I don’t deserve it,” or, “Oh, I can’t take this from my spouse, or my parents,” keep in mind this idea of reciprocity. Realize with relationships that are lasting, with relationships that are loving, there will always come a time when the person who has helped you, will need your help. And so it is with recovery. When someone is extending themselves to give you a hand, reach out for it, and understand that it is a balancing act. It is a balancing act between giving and receiving, and that in time, it can all balance out.
And so, from the Light of the Moon Café, in Nikko Bay, in Palau, I invite you to think about what balance means for you. Because therein lies the key for your recovery. I hope to see you next time.
I would love to hear what you think, share a comment below!