Finding balance can be difficult for anybody. But balance in recovery is even more difficult because you lacked balance for so long while in the throes of your addiction. A common emotion after recovery is to feel a void where the alcohol used to be. You have newfound time, and new hobbies can be exciting. But the key to lasting recovery is balance.
As the adult child of two alcoholic parents, I’ve watched my dad go from one extreme to the next and finally find that equilibrium.
Balancing Act for Recovery
The best way for me to explain my dad’s constant balancing act is to picture him as a man walking a tightrope while juggling 5 balls.
He gently tosses each ball, one at a time giving each one just the right amount of attention to keep it from crashing to the ground.
The tightrope challenges him, it forces him to focus and set his intention.
But he remains steadfast in his goal: stay on his feet and keep the balls in motion.
My dad works on his juggling routine daily, all while focusing on his sobriety. He balances his marriage, his children, his career, his friends, and his hobbies, ensuring that each has enough attention. He makes sure to tell us he loves us and that we’re important to him.
Prior to Sobriety
But it hasn’t always been that way.
Before he made the commitment to get sober, he was all about boozing it up with his buddies. He would disappear for days at a time, and then reappear and act like nothing happened. His time spent with us as a family was often determined by whether or not his friends were doing something better. We were usually his second, third, or last choice.
Sundays during football season were especially bad.
He’d leave the house early, well before the first game’s kickoff and my mom would pick him up after the last game. He would be bitter and angry about his team’s loss and he always stunk of booze. Inevitably, after he had his full of being angry and unkind, he’d attempt to spend some good “quality family time” with us.
A.K.A. he’d put on a movie for us to watch while he passed out on the couch.
After years of this disappointing absentee father cycle, he made the decision to get sober. It gave him the opportunity to see his life without the haze of alcohol. He decided that repairing the relationships with his wife and children was more important than getting drunk with his buddies. Since then, he has worked tirelessly to improve relationships with those around him.
If there’s one thing I know for sure about my dad, it’s that he never does anything halfway.
Once he decided to get sober, he devoted his life to showing us that we are important and that we matter to him. He is here when we need him. Now he’s home for family dinner on Sunday nights. He puts air in our tires when he hears we are planning a bike ride with friends the next day. He takes my mom on dates and treats her like she should be treated. He works hard to provide for us. He even maintains relationships with his friends, who don’t exactly understand his sobriety but at least they respect it.
He’s a reliable father, husband, and friend now.
Constant Balancing Act
From time to time, the juggling act gets lopsided. Whether it’s because he’s spending more time catching up with friends on a guys’ trip, or taking one of us kids skiing. But the most amazing part is that he stays steady on the tightrope. He stays sober and he stays in recovery.
Though his sobriety challenges him and causes him to navigate life different than most, he takes it so seriously and he doesn’t waver.
It makes me proud of his journey and so proud to be his daughter.
About the Author
Mimi Jones is a graduate student in Southern California with deep familial ties to the world of addiction. She is the child of alcoholic parents and she shares her experiences as she strives to maintain balance and support her recovering family.