Adjusting to a richer, fuller life experience
~Green-In-MI, SMART Recovery Volunteer
“Getting used to sober life can be a process of adjusting in a number of ways.”
One of the things the SMART community talks about is making changes in your life as part of the process for sustained abstinence from your drug of choice or problem behavior. People share experiences like creating new circles of friends or even moving to new places or cities.
SMART specifically talks about finding one or more VACIs (Vitally Absorbing Creative Interests). A number of us spent an awful lot of time planning on using, using, and recovering from using. For many of us, our drug of choice was the focus of day-to-day life. Without it, many find themselves clear-headed but with nothing planned for the evening and wondering what to do. As you continue to build a new life, you re-engage old friends and pick old hobbies back up. You also find new friends and new activities. These are all good signs of progress.
If you’re like me, you might find yourself very busy all of the sudden. At some point you threw yourself into your life, dominated by your drug of choice. Now you’ve thrown yourself into a new life, a life of addiction recovery. There’s family, work, friends, hobbies, and keeping up with the general demands of day-to-day life, like paying the bills. Spare time may seem non-existent, but if you’re lucky maybe you can scrape up enough time to see the latest summer blockbuster where clever one-liners go hand in hand with explosions and the bad guys almost always lose. You may not be just like me but you get the drift. Maybe a romantic comedy is more your style.
With increasing sobriety I really noticed, among many things, just how damn busy real life can be. I found myself thinking “how did I ever get all this stuff done when I was drunk so much?” Then I realized I didn’t get ANYTHING done. Don’t be surprised to find yourself noticing the same thing I noticed. Getting used to sober life can be a process of adjusting in a number of ways. A new life with many different demands on your time and energy is one of those adjustments a lot of us have to make, and generally I believe it’s a positive sign that you’re piecing together a new life.
Just like you’ve developed skills for dealing with urges, keeping your motivation strong for continued abstinence, and navigating challenging situations, you might find you need to develop skills for managing your new life. Maybe you need to hone your organizational skills starting with something simple like a to-do list (one Smart Recovery Online facilitator suggested a daily “it’s done” list as an interesting version of the to-do list). Maybe you will choose to simplify your life and the demands on your time. I don’t have an easy answer to this, and I’m still working on it myself. Like a lot of ideas in SMART it is self-help and sometimes the most valuable things you learn often come in your own personalized version. Don’t feel alone, and keep at it. You’ll get it figured out.
In the meantime, welcome to life at the speed of sober.
About the author: Green-In-MI is a SMART Recovery Online Member and Volunteer. He continues to build on his progress and enjoys endurance sports and gardening.
This post is a reprint from the SMART Recovery blog archives.