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Is This All There is to Recovery? Dealing with Boredom
“I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.” ― Louis C.K.
People sometimes find themselves feeling bored in their early recovery; that feeling that what we are engaged in is not what we want to do, or we are forced by circumstances to engage in activities that do not stimulate us, or we are not able to mentally and emotionally enjoy our present circumstances.
Young people in recovery commonly state that they are bored. Dr. David Sack writes that boredom is one of the 5 Didn’t-See-It-Coming Relapse Triggers.
“Drugs and alcohol are the organizing principle of an addict’s life. When those are removed, there is a void that needs to be filled with healthy pursuits, or boredom and isolation can set in. It takes time to figure out the balance between having enough free time to relax and enjoy life, but not so much that the old lifestyle begins to look more desirable.”
The younger a person is when they get into recovery; the more likely they are to think that they are missing something. Frankly, if you have gone to one party where everyone was doing dope, you have gone to them all.
Yes, the club/bar scene changes the players, the décor, or the music. But, you have already participated and seen it, and this lifestyle and these influences are probably a contributor to your current situation.
Since addiction does not discriminate by age, there has to be engaging and interesting activities for our younger population in recovery. Well, the reality is that there are opportunities for friendships and social activities that don't involve using drugs and alcohol, thus keeping our young people in recovery.
Longer video on boredom: just the opposite, it's interesting!
The Anonymous People
So, Where Are the Other Young People in Recovery?
For practical day-to-day inspiration, there is the site, Young People in Recovery. It is a grassroots movement comprised of young people who are in long-term recovery. You'll find help, and just as importantly, a place to give voice to your thoughts, writing, and concerns.
In addition, there is a process for staring a Young People in Recovery chapter in your area. Yes, it takes a commitment, but we were typically quite committed to our addiction, and need to be for our recovery.
Faces and Voices of Recovery, a national organization dedicated to education, advocacy and spreading the word that "recovery works" is very active in providing resources for young people in recovery.
While I am no longer young, my story was selected some years back to encourage people to embrace recovery and take advantage of all the opportunities.
The Recovery Stories, filmed and presented by young people, confirm that a recovery is not only possible, but predictable for young people.
The movie, The Anonymous People shows who we are and what our message is. It is estimated that there are over 23 million people in long-term recovery; that's 23,000,000 people like you and me.
However, we've taken anonymous to mean not talking about addiction and recovery. That never was the intent. I, you, and your family can talk about, write about and educate people about what is personally relevant; just leave talking or writing about others to them.
Watching and Chats are Okay, But I Need Human Contact!
Just as important as watching a film or going online for help with boredom is asking people that you think are interesting what they do that is exciting. Seek out people that are not boring at your recovery supportive meetings and find out what they do for fun.
Find out about ICYPAA – International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous. Conventions and conferences tend to be in exotic places; for 2013, there was Vegas, New Orleans, and Hawaii. Surely you could find something interesting, exciting, and not boring to do in those places that didn’t revolve around alcohol and drug use.
The 2015 conference is scheduled for September 3-6 in Miami, Florida.
A Group of People Can Make a Boring Activity Fun
Group activities like bowling, going to the movies, a baseball, football, or basketball game become a recovery outing when you have a group of other young people with you.
Going to bowling alleys, professional sports arenas, or concerts, even where alcohol is served can be fun and safe going with a group.
Another plus for the bowling is that everyone will have a comment about those shoes.
Learning to laugh and finding shared humor are also part of healing from your addiction.
Finding Safe Ways to Enjoy Music
Music has always been an important part of my life, and I was afraid I would have to give up going to concerts. I did not; I just had to make sure that I had other safe people with me. We had things to occupy us during intermissions, or waiting for the concert to begin.
We have Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta, so we take cards and games to distract us and not have to focus on what others were doing on the blanket next to us. I learned to play Ono, Bridge, and Crazy Eights on the lawn.
Am I Getting Boring in Recovery?
One emotional issue of boredom is thinking that you are getting boring or afraid of becoming a bore to others. Think about it. You make the comment, “My life is boring in recovery.”
Well, who is dictating your life but you?
Certainly, you have responsibilities to significant others, family, your spouse, children, treatment or meetings and your job. Nevertheless, you have free time. You also have the resources to do something exciting in your recovery. Not all of your money is going to drugs, alcohol, or lifestyle. What things are genuinely interesting to you? The list of stuff to do is endless and specific to you.
Check on-line for exciting things to do on a Saturday morning and see what you get:
- Bungee jumping
- Jet skiing
- Rock climbing
- A trip on a speedboat
- Hiring a driver at a racetrack
- Going out to dinner and movie
- Going to an art gallery opening
- A day at the spa
- Taking children on a field trip; children can make any activity exciting and stimulating
If you find meetings boring, have you joined a specific group and tried to help make it more interesting?
Is it Boredom, Contentment, Serenity or Stability?
People in long-term recovery will often tell you that they finally realized that it was not about being bored. When they no longer had, cops chasing them or waiting in dangerous neighborhoods for a pickup or fears about paying their bills, they realized that they are content, not bored.
The feelings can seem similar in early recovery, but with a subtle shift in attitude, you might see that what you are experiencing is the opposite - serenity. Boring is also about predictability.. Situations that are predictable also generate feelings of:
And if your use was like mine, none of those qualities listed were present in my active addiction.
Getting our Marbles Back and Learning to Play
Meetings Get Sooooo Boring – Like a Broken Record
Sure there is repetition at meetings; the same readings, sometimes even the same people reading the same information. However, if it has gotten boring for you that might mean that you are attending enough of those meetings to have learned the information.
Readings Help People Know Recovery is Possible
Also, remember that you didn’t always know this information and it is read for the newest person there- someone that you used to be.
What if the information hadn’t been read at your first meeting? Would you be where you are in your recovery without the readings?
Meetings are Like Harbors for Ships
Meetings, of any type, are not your life. Meetings are like a harbor for ships and boats. It’s refueling, repairing, and restocking, it’s not sailing. Yes, there are people who seem to “live in meetings”.
That may not be so much boring as fear based for them; they may just be too afraid of their own thoughts and behaviors to venture out into this thing called life.
And take it easy on us old folks in meetings, we may have gotten our marbles back, but we had to learn to play with them, too.
Drama vs. Boring
Is it possible you're missing the chaos of addiction rather than being bored with recovery? Could you safely experience excitement vicariously by being a sponsor or accountability partner for a new person?
They might have enough drama, chaos, and misfortune to help you remember how much you do not want that type of a chaotic life again.
I opened and ran a women’s recovery home for more than 20 years in Georgia.
The combined problems, heartaches, disappointments, old behaviors and drama of the residents were enough to help me see that nothing in the world of addiction had changed. So, even on a bad day, I did not want that world again.
Have you created activities to keep you from getting bored in your recovery?
Recovery is as Boring as You Make It
If you reflect on how chaotic your alcohol or drug-fueled life was before recovery, you can realize that you have choices in your recovery that you didn’t have in your use.
You also have much more discretionary time, after all you aren’t consumed 24/7 with getting and using, but you still have the same 24/7 to fill up.
Have you always wanted to try a hobby but didn’t have the time or money? Here again, what floats your boat sinks another.
Spending $30 on colored pencils and getting a drawing pad may strike some as a waste of time, but you may have talent that you couldn't nurture in your use.
Drawing, not your thing? Then how about:
- Learning to cook from a professional chef
- Visiting all the tourist attractions near your home and learning about them
- Learn to garden and enjoy eating fresh vegetables
- Write your memoir to help others relate and recover
Doing any or all of these things without the threat of a blackout, feelings of embarrassment and shame for participating in the activity, or a hangover from too much onion in your dish would be a pleasant outcome.
If you do opt for a cooking class, a word of caution, " “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in fruit salad” ― Miles Kington
Change is Not Boring
While you are clearing up the wreckage of your past, extend this to your life.
“I'm going through an evolution. I'm completely cleaning out my closet. I'm purging because I saw that show 'Hoarders.' I had a sweatshirt from sixth grade, and I'm going, 'Why do I hold on to this?' Fergie
Re-organizing stuff, sorting, shifting, and donating can give you a sense of accomplishment and be helpful to others. It also reinforces on several levels that you are changing who you are, and change is rarely considered boring.
Most important Take Away
Find your personal brand of fun. Explore silly options; take healthy risks and enjoy your recovery.
My Tag Line: Writing, Sharing, and Growing Together: What it Means
I got asked in email why I added a tag line. Because it was important to me to remember. Part of my commitment to writing, sharing and growing together is to find others who write on the same subject as my article and share it with my readers.
Writer, Grant's World has another perspective on boredom that is well worth the read, titled: Best things to do on the weekend when you are bored. His name will take you to his other articles, as well as Jennieinabottle.
© 2013 Marilyn L Davis