I just returned from a professional conference last week. This was my first SASH (Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health) conference since becoming a member of that organization three years ago. I have been to several similar conferences since "leaping into the void" to become a therapist specializing in sex addiction in 2009. The great thing about attending conferences is also the most challenging thing about it for me: the people. I really enjoyed re-connecting with friends and colleagues whom I know, and making so many wonderful new connections with some amazing people. I am learning how good it feels to be connected to healthy others. This is a recovery strength and resource that I encourage all of my clients to embrace and practice on a regular basis. It feels good to connect authentically with other healthy people, and such connections feed my need for intimacy.
On the other hand, as an introvert, I know that I have a great need for internal connection to my well-spring, my source. For me, this requires solitude and relaxed focus. For as much as I enjoy the positive energy of intimate exchanges with others, I need to balance that with alone time for quietude and reflection - as well as to shift my mind into neutral through deep meditation. This alone time is often difficult to carve out in the midst of all the activity. Thus, one of the primary challenges of attending functions such as conferences and seminars is balancing this connection with others and the connection with self and with one's higher power.
In recovery, most of us struggle with balance. The impaired brain of a person with the disease of addiction, even in recovery, tends towards extremes on either end of the spectrum. Once I relax enough to enjoy being with others, I have a tendency to overdo it, and to challenge my perspective and balance by overstaying my welcome or by going past my healthy limits. Or, when I return to my "nest" I tend to make up for the imbalance by isolating and avoiding contact in order to feed my inner connection. In recovery, I am learning to be more mindful of when I am approaching my limit, and to use my self awareness and communication skills to honor the boundaries that I know are healthy for me. That way, I can enjoy being myself, fully and completely, both in the presence of others and when alone.
If, like me, you find your ability to live in balance challenged by day-to-day circumstances, you are not alone. There will be times you are more or less successful at finding that balance. The key is to give yourself a break when you are less successful, and to give yourself appropriate credit when you are. Mindful awareness - of your inner state, your limits, and your boundaries in the context of your environmental surroundings and relationships - is the key to balance. Noticing how you are, where you are, and making the adjustments necessary to stay in balance is a fundamental recovery skill that improves with practice and determination. Prayer and letting go of judgment about the outcome helps too! Peace, in recovery.