Bored in Recovery?
People sometimes say they feel bored in their early recovery; that feeling that what we’re doing is not what we want to do. Or we lament that circumstances force us to take part in activities that are not our choice.
We’re often unable to mentally or emotionally relate to others and not admit that we’re uncomfortable in new surroundings or with new people, so we claim to be bored. Age plays a role here; young people in recovery commonly state that they are bored.
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 decor, or the music. However, you have already participated and seen it, and this lifestyle and these influences are probably a contributor to your current situation.
If I’m about to say I’m bored with my life, I remember the words of Louis C.K. “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.”
Bored and Not Aware
Dr. David Sack writes that boredom is one of the 5 Didn’t-See-It-Coming Relapse Triggers. “Drugs and alcohol are the organizing principles 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.”
Since addiction does not discriminate by age, there have to be engaging and exciting 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.
Where Are the Other Young People in Recovery?
For practical day-to-day inspiration, there is the site, Young People in Recovery, a grassroots movement composed 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.
Also, there is a process for starting a Young People in Recovery chapter in your area. Yes, it takes commitment, but we were typically quite committed to our addiction, and we need to take that resolve and determination into 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 recovery is not only possible but predictable for young people.
There Are 23 Million People to Have Fun With – Join Them
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 anonymously to mean not talking about addiction and recovery. That never was the intent.
You, your family, and I can write about and educate people about what is personally relevant; just leave out your affiliation to any particular recovery support meeting, so if you relapse, you are not a reflection of those philosophies.
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 who you think are interesting what they do that is exciting.
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 Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Hawaii. Cities like New York City, St. Louis, San Francisco surely have something exciting to do, and in 2017 it was in the Windy City of Chicago.
The 2015 conference, in Miami, Florida, featured Drag Shows, Rap and Open Mike contests, and a takeoff on Idol shows. Even if you didn’t compete, you’d got to admit; these probably wouldn’t be boring.
The 2020 conference is going to be in New Orleans. I know from my visits there that there is a lot to see, experience, and enjoy in “The Big Easy”, including a thriving recovery community.
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.
Finding Safe Ways to Enjoy Music
Music has always been an essential 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 while waiting for the show, or during intermissions.
We have Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta, so we take cards and games to distract us and not have to focus on what others are doing on the blanket next to us. I learned to play Ono, Bridge, and Crazy Eights on the lawn.
In 2015, UNITE to Face Addiction Rally included free performances by Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh of The Eagles, John Rzeznik of The Goo Goo Dolls, The Fray, Jason Isbell, and Aloe Blacc. Also, check out Rockers in Recovery to see how music can still be a part of your recovery.
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 comment, “My life is boring in recovery.”
Well, who is dictating your life, but you?
Yes, you have responsibilities to significant others, family, your spouse, children, jobs, treatment, or meetings. 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 are things that genuinely interest you?
The list of stuff to do is endless and specific to you. Check online for exciting things to do on a Saturday morning and see what you get. I did a brief search for Atlanta activities and here’s what I found:
- Bungee jumping
- Jet skiing
- Tubing down a river
- 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 make any activity exciting and stimulating
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.
The feelings can seem similar in early recovery, but with a subtle shift in attitude, you might see that what you are experiencing is not boredom, but serenity.
Boring is also about predictability, and for some, that sounds boring, but predictable situations also generate feelings of:
And if your use was like mine, none of those qualities were present in my active addiction.
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.
But remember, you didn’t always know that information.
The readings are to help people get familiar with format and philosophy. 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, 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, some people seem to “live in meetings.” That may not be so much boring as fear-based for them; they may be too afraid of their thoughts and behaviors to venture out into this thing called life.
Old Folks at Meetings are Boring
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.
Maybe some people find tranquility sitting with a pole on a lake, and so you decide that they make your meetings boring, too. If you think your meetings are boring, liven them up; generate some new activities at meetings.
“… millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” ―Susan Ertz
Have you joined a specific group and tried to help make it more enjoyable? See about doing some of the following:
- A candlelight meeting on the weekend
- Dinner before monthly celebrations
- Introduce yourself to one new person at each meeting
- Take a newcomer to a movie, get coffee, or both of you go to a different meeting
Drama Vs. Bored
Is it possible you’re missing the chaos of addiction and not 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 chaotic life again. Do you honestly miss the drama?
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.
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 during 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.
What Interests You?
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 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 a fruit salad”― Miles Kington
Change is Not Boring
Is your wardrobe a reflection of the new you? Could it use an overhaul? You have time in your recovery. While you are clearing up the wreckage of your past, extend this to your life.
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, and learn to laugh – it releases endorphins and you’ll feel better.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at From Addict 2 Advocate and Two Drops of Ink. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook.