For the addict and alcoholic, few things and life are as unbearable as the thought of being bored. Boredom can be emotionally uncomfortable, especially in early recovery. We like to keep ourselves occupied in order to prevent our racing thoughts and irrational inspirations from consuming us whole. When we fall victim to boredom, we are left alone with our own feelings and contemplations – we are more susceptible to reminiscing on the gallant adventures of old times, when we threw caution to the wind on a daily basis and lived audaciously, one moment to the next. We are more susceptible to glamorizing the pandemonium of our drinking and drugging days, thinking to ourselves, “I was never bored while I was out there getting good and wasted – there was always something to do.” We may forget, however briefly, that the excitement of our drunken days was stitched together with misery and self-loathing.
Boredom – The Enemy of Fulfilled Recovery
After years of living amidst complete and utter chaos, we find ourselves slowly settling into routine – and the shift can be quite jarring. We have become so accustomed to living in a constant state of insecurity, distress, and drama, that any sense of stability truly sends us reeling. Yes, at first it takes quite a bit of getting used to. We may still be drawn to dramatics, creating chaos in our own lives – making mountains out of molehills and living in a constant state of self-pity and resentment. We call this ‘self-sabotaging’ sometimes, and we do it to ourselves for two main reasons. Firstly, we may not believe that we are deserving of success and stability. When things begin going right, when we land a decent job and settle into a nice home and begin repairing and creating interpersonal relationships, we may suddenly throw a wrench in the workings for no sensible reason at all. Any sense of comfort and contentedness is foreign, and we feel we are either not capable of maintaining it for an extended period of time, or we merely feel unworthy. Working on self-love, self-forgiveness, and self-acceptance will help soothe these fears.
Secondly, we may sabotage our newfound consistency because we simply cannot fathom the idea of living the same routine on daily basis. Breakfast, work, lunch, work, nap, meeting, fellowship, dinner… God, it sounds so awful. So unbearable. Although it may sound a little crazy, the fear of chronic boredom prevents many addicts and alcoholics from seeking help sooner. We may imagine a life of recovery as being a dull, drab life of somber AA meetings, burnt, black coffee, and long commutes to a stale and staunch cubicle job. We may imagine eating a bowl of cold porridge for breakfast and crying ourselves to sleep at night after we watch our favorite soap opera on television. We have no experience in recovery, and so our minds wander to places of torturous monotony and prudishness. Remember, most fears live in misguided evaluations of future events.
What is Recovery Really Like?
On the contrary, those who have maintained any kind of long-term recovery will likely be the first to tell you that boredom is the least of their problems. Early recovery can be a little uncomfortable for a number of reasons – we are doing a lot of intense emotional and spiritual work on ourselves, and we are instructed to keep our focus on our recovery and little else. For what may be the first time, we are asked to take an honest and searching look at ourselves – our shortcomings, our past mistakes; how selfish and self-seeking motives had been driving us, exclusively. How much damage we had done to our relationships, how much harm we had caused those who had done nothing but love us unconditionally. Being bored in early recovery means sitting with all of these raw revelations, mulling them over, wondering where we went wrong.
Focusing on our recovery and little else does not mean depriving ourselves of the opportunity to grow in other ways. What a beautiful prospect to learn more about who we truly are – what makes us laugh, what music we like, what creative outlets satiate our souls. Recovery, in all honesty, is a beautiful and incredible journey of self-discovery. The routine we will eventually settle into is one of our choosing – if we don’t want to work in a cubicle, we don’t have to. We simply don’t. Meetings become anticipated gatherings of like-minded friends after awhile, and once we are solid enough in our recovery to branch out further, we can explore every corner of the earth with impunity. With a clear mind – the ability to remember, and to experience things in the moment, as they occur. If we actively seek fulfillment, we will find it. We simply will.
Beating Boredom in Early Recovery
If you are bored, it’s your fault. You aren’t bored because you’re sober, your bored because you aren’t taking full advantage of your sobriety. The world is a totally amazing place, and there is no limit to the things that you can do with a clear mind and able body! Think back to the kind of ‘thrilling adventures’ you had before entering into recovery – really think. Waking up sick, walking outside to check the hood of the car for bloodstains after driving 5-miles home in a blackout, again. Waking up in strange beds – maybe naked, maybe not. Struggling, crying, apologizing, and doing it all over again the next day. Addiction is monotony. Addiction is dullness, desolation, and deep-seated misery.
Recovery is an adventure. Make it your own.