Is Sobriety Boring?

By Amber Tozer 10/14/16

Sometimes I feel better when I'm able to sit there and feel the pain, trusting it will pass, than I do when I try to force myself to be happy.

Image: 
A woman yawning.
What you call boring...

When people find out I don't drink, for the most part, they are cool about it or don't care. But, certain personalities ask questions about it. I don't mind at all because it gives me an opportunity to talk about myself and that's always fun. The one question that pops up a lot, usually from someone who drinks and can't imagine not drinking, is, "Don't you get bored?" I want to tell them, "Yes! It's horrible. All I do is sit at home crying wishing I could drink. I stare at the inside of my wrists wondering which vein to slice open so I can drink the blood that pours out in hopes of feeling the same affect as a few shots of tequila." I think saying something like that would make people more comfortable than saying, "How can I be bored when THANKS TO SOBRIETY my life is nothing but a magical experience here on Earth? Now that I'm SOBER all of my dreams have come true and I have never been happier." People would HATE ME! Especially if I yelled the THANKS TO SOBRIETY part.

I think we're all a little bit addicted to hearing the dark side of situations, that's why the news only reports horrible shit. We love it! Do you wanna watch happy people talk about how happy they are, or do you wanna watch a True Crime series about a lady who takes a sledgehammer to her husband's head? SLEDGE-HAMMER SLEDGE-HAMMER! Alright alright, calm down.

But to answer the original question: is sobriety boring? Yes. Sometimes. I have spent many nights bored out of my fucking skull. They say only boring people are boring, and to whoever they are I say, "Hello! You must be talking about me! Nice to meet you! What's that? Do I want to go to a party? Fuck no! Okay, then have a lovely time."

One thing I realized when I got sober was the amount of time I had to fill. I used to spend about five nights a week out at bars, staying out drinking for at least six hours a night (8 p.m. to 2 a.m.—this is a modest guess). So, I'd spend approximately 30 hours a week drinking. And my hangovers would last at least one day, sometimes two. So I'd spend about 168 hours being hungover. My schedule was booked!

I no longer spend most of my time managing the super high highs and the super low lows. There was something about being wasted and hungover that made me not bored. I was either drunk, feeling on top of the world believing the choices I made were the best choices, or I was hungover freaking out about those very same choices, baffled at the fact that they made sense to me just hours before. I'd wake up thinking I should check myself into a mental institution but first I had to get drunk again. My point is, I was busy! I wasn't sitting around, I was managing the unmanageability! That took time and effort, there was no time to be bored.

In sobriety, there is much more time to do things and sometimes I just sit there. Especially at night, I have no idea what to do. I think, "Maybe I should have a baby, they scream and eat a lot and that would keep me busy." Then I think, "A baby will probably make me want to drink. Ummm, maybe I'll read a book instead of getting pregnant." Then I'll read a psychological murder mystery or watch a documentary about a serial killer or the Holocaust—anything to do with sick and fucked up shit—or if I'm in a better state of mind I might call a friend or go to a 12-step meeting. But, ya know what? Sometimes I'll just sit there, bored. I might even feel sorry for myself. It feels comfortable to me sometimes. I'll just really dig in and feel bad without making an effort to feel better.

But even on those nights where I am bored and upset, it's okay. There is so much pressure to be happy. Sometimes I feel better when I'm able to sit there and feel the pain, trusting it will pass, than I do when I try to force myself to be happy. When I force myself to feel happy, it's only because I'm feeling bad about feeling bad. Knowing the discomfort will pass has been crucial. Every once in a while, my mind will wander back in time when I used to "have so much fun" when I was a real cool party girl. Then I have to get honest with my thoughts and dig a little deeper and remember what a nightmare my life turned out to be because "the fun" was not reality. I spent most of my time running from reality, then I realized reality was just as fast as me. I'd wake up every morning and there it was waiting for me, my life—a life I hated—knowing I created it. I was very busy doing the opposite of what I wanted to be doing. There was no time for boredom.

Now, when I spend a night being bored, I wake up the next day feeling alright. I have never regretted a night of boredom. I have never woken up the next day thinking, "OH MY GOD I WAS SO BORED LAST NIGHT I FUCKED MY MEAN NEIGHBOR! I HAVE GOT TO STOP BEING BORING." Most times, after I wake up after a night of doing nothing, I'm a bit more motivated to get my ass in gear and do some stuff. My boring nights at home refuel me.

I wish I had known this when I was afraid to stop drinking. I completely understand why people who sort of want to stop drinking don't stop, because they ask themselves, "What will I do if I don't drink?" I want to tell them, "You will do many things, things you'd never thought you'd do. It's hard to explain, just trust me." I just remember spending many years asking myself that question, "If I don't drink, what in the hell am I going to do at night?" My thoughts would continue, "There is no way I can stop drinking. No fucking way. Maybe I'll just cut back, so I can still have a little bit of fun." But when I couldn't cut back, I just surrendered to the idea that I was a drunk. That's who I was. And it was cool because I was an artist. It was so romantic! And the real nightmare came to life when the drinking stopped being fun. Alcohol no longer created a happy and confident feeling, it just made me feel a little bit better than I did when I was sober, which was still pretty awful. You'd think for sure I'd wanna stop then—but nope! I kept at it, for years.

And, after finally deciding to ask for help and studying alcoholism and being active in sobriety, my definition of "cool" and "boring" changed. You know who is boring all of the time? Me, when I'm hungover. I just sat there with sunglasses on and sometimes I'd eat a cheeseburger. You know who is "not cool"? A selfish, loud, unaware drunk person—give me three or four or 12 vodka gimlets and I'm that person.

I guess the tricky thing about "being boring" in sobriety is how I feel about it at any given moment, and how I perceive it. If I stay home at night and organize my sock drawer and think, "God. I'm such a fucking loser. It's Friday night and I'm home alone organizing my sock drawer," I need to be careful. If I'm lucky, I'll be aware of my thoughts and stop the self pity spiral. I'll try to shift into, "My socks need this. I have 17 single socks and I know some of them belong together." And after matching a few pairs—and pretending that when I fold a pair together, it means the socks are having sex with each other—it becomes a little bit fun and then I get horny and have to deal with that in a way that will not bring me shame. Impulse control is never ending! Sometimes I wonder if it's all worth it. And, then something magical happens, something that I did not plan or expect and would not happen if I wasn't in recovery, and I'll have a very beautiful moment where I think, "This is the coolest thing that has ever happened to me so I guess maybe it is worth it."

So, to answer the almighty "Don't you get bored?" question. Yes. I do. Bored enough to write this silly book. Please buy it, it's called SOBER STICK FIGURE.

Thank you!

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Disqus comments
Disqus comments