M(3), 2/8/16: The George Costanza Approach
Another Monday, another round of craziness. I’m not even going to detail it this time, I’m sick of hearing myself talk about schedules-gone-haywire. I suppose serenity will come when my schedule gets comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Interestingly, this is a lesson I learned from one of the wise regulars in my meeting this morning. We were back to a group of the usual 12 attendees, and we read the chapter “Changing Old Routines” in the book Living Sober. The chapter gives a plethora of ways in which the newly sober can tweak their daily schedule to maximize their chances of staying sober.
As someone who struggled with staying sober for a solid nine months before I actually got sober, I can attest to each and every one of the ideas in the chapter. Here are some of the best ideas:
- Get up earlier or later
- Do the opposite of what you normally do in terms of eating breakfast before or after you get dressed for the day
- Take a different route to work
- Avoid drinking buddies, at least temporarily
- Avoid drinking haunts, such as restaurants and bars, at least temporarily
- Change routine when you come home from work… come in a different door, immediately fix yourself a non-alcoholic treat, take a relaxing bath, lay down for a nap
- Change up evening activities, to the extent of changing which room of the house you occupy
- Start an exercise program
- Keep sweet treats on hand
- Change up vacations that used to center around drinking in favor of something new to you
These are just some of the great ideas shared in the chapter. I will say, as I do each time I write about the book Living Sober... if you are new to sobriety, buy yourself a copy of this book. It is chock full of practical wisdom for surviving the early days!
Back to the gentleman to whom I referred to earlier, he said the biggest change he made in his routine was attending a meeting each day (in early sobriety). Having already been convinced of his need for recovery, he chose to attend meetings every day as a way of cementing his decision. The biggest hurdle he had to overcome was the notion of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. His only tool for dealing with discomfort had been drinking, so now the challenge was to simply feel the feelings until they passed. Thirty six years later, and he feel quite comfortable being uncomfortable!
A friend of mine shared that in early sobriety she used many of the techniques listed above to cope with giving up the routine of drinking. Now that she is more comfortable with sobriety, she finds she needs tools like these to change her routines in terms of emotional upset. Prior to recovery, her tools involved:
b. stuffing down, which ultimately led to
Since she no longer has access to option c, she needs to change the routine of using a. and b. to deal with difficult situations. Things like giving herself permission to feel feelings (I’m beginning to sense a pattern with us!), setting boundaries to take time for self-care, and letting go of expectations all help her in the same way the tools above helped with putting down the drink.
Several people talked of specific strategies they used early on: taking up jogging, finding a new set of people to replace drinking buddies, creating accountability by acknowledging the need for help.
In other words, rather than simply giving up the habit of drinking and all it entails, replacing it with people, places and things to ease the transition to sobriety.
Finally, a woman shared something that served as my personal take-away for the morning. She has been sober for some time, but this chapter still spoke to her. She believes that while she is no longer a product of her alcoholism, she is a product of her choices. In other words, while she no longer struggles with the desire to pick up a drink, she still struggles, from time to time, to live life on life’s terms. When she is feeling out of sorts for reasons such as an erratic schedule, or an inability to get to her regular meetings, she can play the victim, or she can use the tools she’s been given to make a healthier choice. She woke up in just such a mood, and wanted nothing more than to wallow in it. Instead, she made the choice to attend a meeting.
I let her know that I benefitted greatly from her choice!
Recognizing that I too have a choice!
Posted on February 9, 2016, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, AA, Addiction, Alcoholism, fellowship, Living Sober, Meeting, miracles, Monday, Recovery, Routines, Self-Help, Sobriety, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.