Don’t drink. Go to counseling. Go to work. Get your schoolwork done. Prepare to facilitate SMART Recovery meetings. Get to bed earlier. Take your meds. Eat better. Get some exercise. Read, journal, and make time for your mental health.
These are the things that I am constantly telling myself in my recovery. I have put a TON of work into my recovery and making sure that I get to this point. I stay on myself to do all of the things that I know work for me, the things that have proven to keep me sober. I get so caught up in micromanaging myself and all the stuff that I need to do to stay on track and live a balanced life that I often forget to just simply let myself live. I don’t tell myself to have fun. Why not?
I take my sobriety seriously. I have to. There is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be alive much longer if I didn’t. Alcohol was killing me. So, yes, I do need to stay on myself to do what I have to do to stay sober. But after nearly 19 months, I have found that I get so caught up in working on my recovery, my life, and doing all the right things that I forget to give myself permission to have fun. I’m nearly 19 months into this journey and I still have a hard time telling anyone what I do for fun. I can tell you what I do in my free time, but even that is related to my recovery. I don’t do much to just have fun and that is becoming more and more of an issue as I get burnt out.
The truth is, drinking was my fun. Or at least, I thought it was. By the end of my time drinking, it was far from fun. But I had been drinking “for fun” for so many years that I hadn’t given myself a chance to discover myself as an adult and discover new hobbies and interests. I hear all of these people in recovery talking about how they are doing all of these new and exciting things that they didn’t get to do before because of their addiction. I’m doing things in my recovery that I couldn’t do before too, but it’s all turned into work to some degree. If I’m going to stay on this path of recovery and improving my life, I need to discover how to have more fun. I love my life in recovery, but I am very introverted and mostly content doing my own thing. This has created a bubble for me. While my happiness level is leaps and bounds above where it was, I can still be better. I can still be happier.
I have become so caught up in my recovery that I’m almost afraid to let my guard down and start having real fun again. I’m waiting for the time to be “right” to branch out more. I have to stop waiting and start doing. I have the tendency to get restless with things in my life and then overcompensate by doing too much. So, this change needs to be calculated and deliberate. It has to become a part of my routine, but not at the expense of anything that is working well for me. I’m not making any progress with my happiness by not doing anything. So why not start trying new things and start discovering more happiness? I have nothing to lose as long as I am careful and stay grounded in my sobriety. And after nearly 19 months, I am confident enough in myself to believe that I can handle it.
So where am I going with all of this? Well, the first step is just for me to be vulnerable and to admit that I’m not having fun and fully enjoying my sobriety. I’m starting to feel the effects of isolation and being so introverted. I’m sure there are others out there who can relate. People need to know they are not alone. Recovery is not all rainbows and roses. People need to know that it is okay to feel like there should be more to recovery. This is a personal post for me, but it’s also for anyone who is feeling like something is missing. Maybe you aren’t looking for more fun, but more connection. Maybe you’re just feeling a little blah and monotonous. That’s all okay. You need to feel those things to recognize that you’re not living recovery to its fullest. Identify the issues, give it words. Express your feelings, even it’s just to yourself in your journal. OWN it. Make a plan to take action. Start small, but actually start. Do something for 5 minutes. 5 minutes. You can do almost anything for 5 minutes. It’s a starting point.
For me, taking action means I need to get out of my bubble more. I begin facilitating weekly SMART Recovery meetings in my hometown in two days. This is something I am going to make a concerted effort to embrace. My anxiety and introversion are going to be high. But it is an opportunity to socialize more while doing something that I enjoy. So I am going to go into it with an open mind and do my best. Also, finding a hobby that I enjoy is going to take a priority. I’m going to set aside a little block of time each week to dabble in some interests. The hardest part is getting started. So I have to make it a point to do something regardless of how I’m feeling. Just see how it goes. I’m not even 100% sure what that something is yet. Something artistic for a creative outlet. Drawing, painting, making something. Actually, that is my starting point. To begin brainstorming what I might enjoy doing. Just try new things.
Since this is my “opening up” post on this subject, I will keep y’all posted on my progress and how I go about trying to fill this void. If you can relate, reach out to me via social media or email. What do you do for fun? What new hobbies have you taken up during your recovery? Please comment and share, and let’s give people some options and let them know that they aren’t alone in struggling to find their best happiness. It’s an ongoing process for us all. Strength is in community and sharing experiences.