Sunday, July 8, 2012


There's a lot of stuff I'm never doing to be able to do. I'll never be a brain surgeon. I won't be an astronaut. I'll never run track in the Olympics.

There are also plenty of reasonable things that I'll never be able to do. Have a clean house, for example. I'm naturally messy*, and any place that I've been for longer than a day or two slowly fills up with loose papers, scattered books, etc. Since quitting the booze, I've gotten better...the dishes are done almost daily, same for laundry. I usually clean (with the bf) the bathroom and kitchen at least twice a month. No one will ever put a picture of our apartment on a magazine cover (unless it's a "before" shot for some magic organizational system), but we have the comfort in knowing that we are not a hospitable place for bugs and germs.

When I was drinking, those simple chores didn't get done. I'm embarrassed to think about the conditions I lived in, especially during the lowest points. Years ago, just before I became a homeless vagabond, I left a large stain of some red vermouth or something on the floor for a month. I never cleaned it up: I was evicted before I could. If I'd just taken a cloth and wiped at it as soon as I spilled it, there would have been no problem, but for some reason that seemed like too much for me.

One of the challenges a lot of ex-alcoholics seem to have is fighting boredom, and I'm one of them. If anything, booze and pot are great time-fillers. They're so good at filling time that they crowd out everything else. And when you take them away it's like suddenly living in an apartment with no furniture, just a big empty room with nothing to do.

But that's an illusion.

One of the things I'm learning is that there is always something to do. Those somethings have always been there, but I was blissfully ignoring them. Dishes, laundry, studying, tidying....but not just the tedious stuff. I love to read, and now I have all this time for books. I can watch movies (and remember them!). I go to the gym, sometimes just to fill up time, and I always feel better afterward. I play with the bf (he says he hates being tickled, but he's a giggler and sometimes he's just asking for it!), I write emails to my parents, I walk through my neighbourhood, or to the local inner city farm, or one of the dozens of parks nearby.

And all of these things that I do to "fill up time" are constructive. At the end of them, I've got a cleaner house, or I've learned something interesting from a book, or I'm in better shape, or my relationships are stronger.

I heard somewhere once that if you're bored, you're not paying attention, and I'm trying to live like that. It's really difficult sometimes, but I'm learning to read my boredom as a signal. If I'm bored, then maybe I should do something? I've got dozens of choices, inside or outside, and all of them make my life a little bit better.

So maybe I've been wrong to think of boredom as the enemy. Boredom is my brain reminding me that I've got one life, and I better spend it by living.

*There is a distinction between "messy" and "dirty" that probably only slobs like me can distinguish.

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love to read again...hadn't realized how much I missed it. Haven't noticed the boredom but have felt more organized and better about staying on top of things in the last 6 months of sobriety. Every day isn't progress, but over time *everything* has gotten easier.