There is a feeling of dire loss when one enters into recovery for the first time. The overwhelming ideas that you will not have anything fun to do ever again, for the rest of your life can be a powerful deterrent to sobriety. Which is why learning to have 100% unadulterated fun is so important to the success of recovery. The only aid to enjoyment you’ve had being suddenly ripped from your repertoire can be shocking, and often force one to put their guard up. What’s hard to see is the multitude of options outside of drinking and drugging that can be accessed in order to up the entertainment content of your life after you remove that element from your life.
In an earlier post I had mentioned the importance of creativity in my life, and how it had overwhelmingly contributed to my well-being in sobriety. Drawing, painting, writing, photography, and overall experimentation in the arts proved to be an excellent outlet for my constant “ebb and flow” of emotion in recovery. Beating the hell out of the drums is the best way for me, personally, to get all of my unchecked and pent up aggression out. I cannot stress how important activities like these are to someone in early recovery. However, if you are like me then you are very easily excitable. Which, in some cases, can lead to spending sprees on new toys because of a healthy fascination of that “new hobby” in my life. I once spent $300 on one such spree on Lego’ds alone, in an attempt to retest my childhood obsessions. More recently I spent hundreds on art supplies using the holidays as an excuse. I couldn’t “afford” christmas presents so I was going to have to make them for everybody on my list. Much like the husband who buys the wife a chainsaw because she’s been nagging him to trim the trees for some time.
This digresses from the point I initially set out to make. Fun is integral to survival in recovery. When I was twenty I was shipped off to Minneapolis, MN for aftercare following a brief stint in the wilderness of Montana. All I knew of Minneapolis was what little I could gather from fragmented parts of Fargo that I had caught on TNT while channel surfing. I was not excited to be moving to what I thought was going to b a desolate and cold wasteland of boredom and people who talked like the mom from “Bobby’s World.” What I didn’t know was the booming art scene that the town boasted, or the unbelievably vibrant music scene. I didn’t know that Minnesota was the birthplace of Prince, The Replacements, and… Prairie Home Companion…
Nobody really cares about that last one, but I DID! These were revelations to me. That society impacting acts weren’t all born out of either the East or West coasts. That the midwest had this hidden hip that nobody knew about except those fortunate enough to live there, and they were keeping it secret! I felt a part of a hidden collective. To unknowingly stumble upon this treasure trove of culture hiding under the facade of a Siberia-esque landscape.
I didn’t have a car, and took the bus/train everywhere in the year that I lived up North. This allowed me to see the city from a different angle. To be able to look from the ground up, and out what different for me. Normally, when I drive I look at the horizon, occasionally glancing at my surroundings but only just. When you’re on a train, there’s only so many times that you can get caught staring at the people who are riding with you before some kind of altercation takes place. You have to stare out the window, or there could be a fight. I saw locations, districts, venues, where people walked, and why they walked there. The passing lights creating an air of curiosity. Hazy faces with blurry smiles as the bus drove by piqued my interest. Made me want to get off the bus, and postpone the arrival at my location for just a bit longer. In the year that I lived there I found a love for live music, for street art, for coffee and conversation at 1 am, for tattoos on a whim, and even for hometown hero, Mary Tyler Moore. It was the dreamworld of an artsy twenty something trying to find his place on this weird planet. Granted, it was also the hardest time of my life. I lived on $27 a week (after rent), and was a resident of what is called a “cash-cow.” This flophouse didn’t have heat in the winter or A/C in the summer, and presented itself as a safe haven for those seeking shelter from the perils of addiction. A shining example of everything that’s wrong with the addiction/recovery world these days. I hustled my way through my twentieth year. Seeking adventure, Fast times, and faster friends. Every night you could find me playing pool with women with a quick smile, or bobbing my head at the landmark “First Avenue.” I had friends that worked the doors of the juke joints, and acquaintances running coat checks at the best rock clubs in the city. Shaking hands with drunken rock stars, heads hung heavy from their current tours. Sleep was a commodity that I didn’t feel deserved my attention. All glorious, and terrifying at the same time. I learned more about life (& how to live) in one year than most do in five.
The reason why I mention my time in Minneapolis is mainly to convey that I sought life. I didn’t stay stagnant in recovery, rotting in a room wishing my life was better. I looked for fun, and I found it. Granted, I put too much in front of my recovery and ultimately lost it. I lost sight of the balance needed to have a productive life. The importance of remembering why you seeking that adventure, in that I needed it to stay sober, and not the other way around. Fun in sobriety is paramount, as long as sobriety comes first.
More to come soon-