I never owned a laptop before, but I decided it was about time to get one. In a way I never expected, I became consumed by an urge to set up my new device with all kinds of apps and software. Day after day, I found hours slipping through my fingers as I sat in front of the screen, making tweak after tweak to get everything just right. But I always thought to myself, “Let me just get this right, and then I can go back to living properly.” I slowly let go of the things I’ve learned to be essential to my recovery – things like paying careful attention to my needs and keeping up daily routines of self-care. Not too long after, I relapsed after my longest and most fruitful stretch of sobriety yet. Just days later, I began a month-long program of intensive Islamic studies. I was there to learn, but also to assist as a staff member. The atmosphere was great, but the schedule was demanding. My entirety was invested into the program, with no time or energy remaining for the pursuit of my healing. I sensed this, but I did not make much of it. A few days in, I relapsed yet again. These two events share one essential thing in common: I consciously made a choice to delay my pursuit of healing so that I could dedicate my focus to something else. In both cases, I harmed myself and compromised my commitment to sobriety. This time, I would not let the lesson go unlearned. I could no longer let a single day pass without prioritizing my healing above any other pursuits.
Why can’t I be like everyone else?I mentioned in the story above that I began to sense a lack of balance during the early days of my Islamic studies course. What I should have done is slow down, take a pause from all the action, feel the pain that thrived within me, and take reparative action. For example, I could have taken a day off from class and spent the time to rest, exercise, journal, and pray. That is what prioritizing healing above all else would have looked like. One challenge to making such a choice was that when I looked around me, I saw people who seemed perfectly committed and focused on the task at hand, such as the other staff members. The focus, collectively, was on the course, and so it was easy for me to forget everything else.
“Each day requires significant time, energy, and emotion be dedicated to healing – even when that means turning away from other pursuits.” – BrTwoThousandI felt something I have felt several times before: that I am different. I must think about something others don’t – my sobriety. So, while those around me seemed able to really immerse themselves in the course, something else constantly demanded my focus: seeking and maintaining my health. It’s a lonely feeling at times. I realised that I need to accept that other people choose to focus on different things. As for me, this is who I am, and so my priority, every single day, remains the same: seek balance and healing. I am climbing out of a deep, deep hole and there is still much distance to cover. Perhaps, when I am out, my attention can be directed elsewhere. Until then, I will continue climbing.