One of my biggest fears about quitting addiction was that I would be perceived as boring, or my life in recovery would be dull.
Speaking to many of my recovery peers, I found it was a common fear that many of us shared. The truth is, it couldn’t be further from the truth. My life in recovery is anything but boring.
At the end of my addiction, I had very little to live for. My final months of using centred around finding ways and means of scoring my daily quota of substance. That was followed with a trip to my flat to use the drugs in isolation. Next day repeat — it was like Groundhog Day.
Yet somehow in my insanity, I thought giving up this lifestyle would mean I’d look boring. Absurd really when you think, nothing was exciting or glamourous about the way I was living. The truth is my life had become so intertwined with substance misuse, I could not comprehend a life without substances.
Somehow even in the depths of isolation and misery, my brain was fixated on the good times. You know the moments we have where the drugs were once ‘fun’. The fact was those times had long passed and were very fleeting. The substances and my frequency of usage had escalated to the point where the drugs weren’t even working. Yet I was able to convince myself that every score was going to be different. This time it would fix everything and catapult me back to days of relief.
What did I mean when I said I feared boredom?
As many of us are encouraged to do in recovery by our sponsors or therapists, I expressed my fear. “Life is going to be so boring” I proclaimed. My sponsor encouraged me to search why I believed this statement to be true. What I found through my sessions with him was what I meant was how am I going to meet people, make friends and have relationships without substances?
Like most addicts, drugs and alcohol gave me confidence. What friends I did have, I had made on the drug or drink scene. The girls I dated all took drugs like me. It was often me sharing drugs with them that got them to like me. One of my fears was that I would struggle to meet new people, and I was fearing isolation but titling it as boredom.
The start of a solution
Listening to my fears, my sponsor presented a solution. He encouraged me to find a recovery group. For me, this was within Narcotics Anonymous; however, other groups operate through most regions. Once there, I found a ‘home group’ I guess this is best described as a meeting I would attend regularly, without fail.
I got to know people from the group, and we would go for coffees together before and after each meeting. Phone numbers were swapped, and I quickly started getting a text message off some members each day, wishing me well and checking in, as friends do. We’re quite a social group, as we celebrate clean times after each meeting with coffee and cake. We often organise outings for evening meals together, and in the summer some of us go for walks together.
I soon got introduced to service and started contributing to ensure the smooth running of our meetings. I started with helping set the meeting up. Putting chairs out for others to sit on, maybe help organise the leaflet stand. Later I was responsible for serving up hot coffee to those who visited, and in later years, I got to chair the meetings.
What this does is it gives me purpose. It gives me a place I can call home. I was able to identify with it. By doing the service tasks it helped me foster a sense of pride in responsibility.
It has served as a platform for much growth and discovery. What lessons I learned I have used to adapt in new social settings.
The truth about my life today
The fellowships of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous have a lot of social events, I was encouraged to attend them and did so with friends from my ‘home group’.
I feel so proud to be a member of the fellowship, and I encourage anyone who is starting his or her life in recovery to find a likeminded group, whatever that may be.
We have regular conventions and get-togethers. I have friends from all over the county, we all keep in touch and often organise visits to see each other. It’s so refreshing to have friends who care about how I’m doing — they check in on my mental health as I do with theirs. We arrange holidays and celebrate birthdays, childbirths and even weddings together.
A life in recovery has provided me with the platform to rediscover old hobbies and pastimes. I love the NFL, and I had time to invest more deeply into the sport. I’m too old to play it, but I joined a UK based supporter’s group, we chat online and talk about the upcoming fixtures. I write a blog and share my views on the fans page. It’s nothing extraordinary, but I like the game, and it’s becoming more than a mere hobby for me.
Again, I would encourage others to explore or invest in things they love. Maybe it’s sports or fishing, for others it might be Yoga or amateur dramatics. Join a club and meet others with similar interests. You’ll notice, It’s the same formula I used when joining Narcotics Anonymous.
I, and nearly all of my recovery peers, realised we had all invested time into learning a new skill. This education has helped us feel full in our lives. Some of us got traditional education in a college and later university. Others learned a new skill, like playing a guitar or disciplines like cookery and painting.
This added fullness to our lives and gives many of us a sense of achievement and raised self-esteem. It has also introduced us to others who share similar passions.
I had so many dreams as a child before I got into addiction. In recovery, I was able to fulfil the promises I made to myself.
‘Do something for nothing’ — wow! now that was a novel idea. During addiction, I was so selfish. I would never consider doing anything for anyone unless there was a benefit in it for me.
In recovery, I have been encouraged and found great fulfilment in voluntary opportunities. I don’t want to talk about them in-depth as I don’t seek recognition. However, volunteering has proved to be very worthwhile. It has helped me develop so many valuable life skills alongside introducing me to highly valued figures in my life today.
I have no children, and I don’t think my family will ever be what others consider as ‘normal’. However, recovery certainly has helped mend some bridges for me.
I now have many friends who have been able to be the parent their children need. Many have saved once heartbroken relationships and been able to fulfil broken promises.
“if you ever feel like using, after you have called your sponsor to tell him, phone your wife or mother and tell them about your idea. You’ll soon find out just how much your behaviour hurts others”.
I now get what he meant by that. I have a life today where others now depend on me, where they think I’m anything but boring and certainly wouldn’t want to see the return of the ‘old me’.
If you asked me at one month clean to dream and come up with the best scenario of my what my life would look like in recovery, I won’t be able to do justice to what actually happened. I have so much to do, so much to give and so many friends that the true value of life is being revealed to me, daily.