As you probably know by now, I didn’t get sober on my first try. It took over a year of effort and failed attempts before I managed to put any significant amount of clean time together. And when I finally got sober, something weird happened to me. I simply didn’t know what to do with myself. I had no idea how to relax or have a good time without drugs and alcohol. I had some free time, money, and the ability to do whatever I wanted. The only problem was, I had no idea what I actually wanted. If I wanted to stay sober, I needed to learn to have fun in recovery.
Early recovery was almost like being a kid again. It gave me the chance to try out new things and see what I really liked. At the beginning, I was lucky enough to live in a sober living home, so I was surrounded by guys in exactly the boat as I was. We would go out and try to find fun things to do together (those of us who actually wanted to stay sober, at least). And I started to explore things on my own as well.
When I was a kid, I loved reading. During free time in school, you could catch me in the library checking out the young adult fantasy and science fiction. Of course, I forgot all about it when I started using drugs, but sobriety was the chance to rediscover my childhood passion. I started to read a lot. I even got into audiobooks, giving me something to do on my commute in to work. It gave me something to look forward to, instead of dreading getting up and driving to work in the morning. As an added bonus, reading is also cheap fun.
I also found that it was really important to have fun socially. As someone in recovery, going out drinking, like the rest of my old friends do every weekend, simply wasn’t an option for me. I had to learn to get over my social anxiety the hard way and make friends. Just like my days in sober living, I found the easiest thing to do was spend my time with others who were going through the same thing I was. Today, many of my best friends are people I’ve met through meetings or other sober activities. I have a strong network of friends, and I never have to worry about being bored anymore (as long as I’m willing to put in the effort and reach out).
One thing I’ve learned from all of this is that having fun isn’t something that just happens. It’s not like being a kid anymore, when everything is new and exciting and things just seem to happen by magic. As crazy as it sounds, you have to put work in if you want to have fun. I had to spend the time exploring new hobbies and dedicating myself to them to start reaping the reward. The easy thing would be to simply go out and get drunk or high again. It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone, especially as an adult. But taking the easy path is what got me into addiction in the first place. Today, I’m choosing to do something different.