Obligations: they’re everywhere. From the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we close our eyes at night, it seems as though there is always something to do. Those of us who are in recovery often that sense of obligation compounded by the logistics of our recovery plans. When we first leave our treatment programs and being our independent recovery journeys, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with keeping our routine. As time goes on, we may feel more and more comfortable maintaining our sobriety and feel compelled to start volunteering our time and energy to others. This can include anything from rearranging our schedules to accommodate our loved ones to deliberately putting ourselves in harm’s way.
There’s no shame or weakness in simply doing the best we can. When we take a macro look at the situation, we will quickly see that the only people who have a problem with the fact that we can’t help are the people that actually need the favor. There’s also no danger in doing everything we can within the scope of our power to help those that need it. Recovery teaches us to be charitable with our time and insight, but it also teaches us to put ourselves first when our sobriety is potentially on the line. While this may seem easy enough, a surprising number of us have a problem simply doing the best we can.
Why, then, do we constantly feel the need to put ourselves out? For many of us, it’s because we feel guilty about the behavior we exhibited when we were actively using. For others, it’s because we want to prove to ourselves that we really are better. For others, it’s just a matter of getting to actively engage with a “normal” world in which we very much feel like outsiders. We feel like if we do favors that we’re really in no position to do; it will display a sense of emotional maturity and make us more “acceptable” to the outside world. It’s important to remember that the only thing we need to do, until we’re ready to do more, is focus on our recovery. The rest will fall into place.