Boredom is never productive, and it can pose a serious threat to our recovery unless it is addressed. In this article, Paul Silva shares his journey from the distractions of early sobriety to the full and rewarding life he enjoys today. You may read the original post here.
In gratitude, harmony and support,
Sobriety and Boredom Do Not Mix…
by Paul Silva
I hear my kids declare this sometimes, as they stare at the dozens of toys and games surrounding them. “There’s nothing to do!” they moan, stepping over all their LEGO, cars and train tracks. They seem to just see past the plethora of things that other kids would love to have and play with. Defeated, my kids will often resort to staring out the window and watch the vehicles pass by. It seems to cure their restlessness.
I hear a lot of folks new to recovery also claim boredom. Once the sparkle and shine has started to fade off their new-found sobriety, once they have started to descend from their pink cloud, many claim to have little to do, that there is nothing happening in their lives. Welcome to Dullsville, population of you. And like watching my own children, I marvel at how they can claim boredom when everything they need or want is around them and within them.
Distractions and Cookies…
When I was in the first few, tender weeks of my sobriety, I distracted myself as much as I could. I went to countless meetings, walked the downtown streets, read, had coffee with folks and watched cheesy 70’s martial arts films. I ate cookies by the boxful. I did whatever I could to get away from my racing thoughts. I was unsure what to do with myself since letting go of the bottle. I knew I wasn’t alone, feeling so raw and unsure of what to do. I had heard others half-jokingly contemplate going back to drinking so at least they were doing something.
Drinking sucks a lot of energy and time. When I was active, I was either scheming to get drinks, drinking, recovering from drinking, covering up my drinking and/or creating fantasies to justify my drinking. Being a practicing alcoholic also brings heavy duty drama to the table—countless arguments, lost jobs, hospital visits, break-ups, police, etc. I had all of those and more. There is a certain high-wire act that all alcoholics engage in, without a safety net. When we fall, we often fall hard.
When I no longer had the drinking and the drama in my life, I found myself with not only more time on my hands, but also found that those free hours were full of just me. And that was the frightening prospect. My job as an alcoholic was to get me away from me as often as possible, as quickly as possible. With early sobriety, I had nowhere to go. I was restless. I didn’t know how to structure my day. I didn’t know how to deal with life. Any simple pleasures that used to bring me joy were long gone to the dominion of my old drinking.
Learning to Live Again…
Pulling myself out of the “boredom” of my new reality took time. I had to learn how to live again. I had to start re-connecting with my Authentic Self. I had to learn to be comfortable in my discomfort of just being. I had to start healing and mending my relationship with myself and with others. I had to listen to the cues within.
About a year after I got sober, I felt the itch to do something. Sure, I was reunited with my family, and had a new job and had all the trappings of a “good” life, but I knew I needed a deeper fulfillment—something I sought through drinking. I decided to take a chance and get back into writing and so I started a sober blog. A year or two after that, I started running. Then I started a podcast. I have learned to build my life around taking cues from the Universe, and also moving past my fears; to be open-minded and courageous in trying new things.
Like my children surrounded by countless things to do, yet still unaware of them, I realized that everything I sought in the hazy cloud of drinking was always within me. I just had to extend myself and find them. When I feel useful, mentally and emotionally content, spiritually nourished and feeling worthwhile, I have no need to even contemplate drinking. Everything I need is in hand’s reach.
My sober life is a very busy life. I have more riches than I can count. I can’t remember the last time I felt bored or had nothing to do. Recovery isn’t just about putting down the bottle, but of claiming life. It’s about contributing, finding and fanning passions, helping others, and creating space to enjoy oneself. And sometimes I too just like to sit beside the window, stare outside and realize that all is well…