The recovery community comes with a culture. It has its own language, etiquette, and style. Everyone’s aiming towards the same thing, although taking two steps back from time to time, the general progress is upward and onward.
However, there are times when you might want your old friends back. Perhaps they were genuine in a way that your recovering friends are not. Perhaps there was a sense of enjoyment with your old friends and your old lifestyle and now you’re trying to feel the connection, and you’re not. Perhaps it feels like it’s just not you.
Although this might be true, what’s most important is your sobriety. Although you might feel burnt out on the recovery talk, the truth is that it’s keeping you sober. Although you might be feeling like the recovery community doesn’t match your style, your talk, your sense of humor, it’s keeping you alive.
If you’re feeling burnt out on the Pollyanna-type of talk in recovery, perhaps the following suggestions will help you appreciate what recovery is doing for you. The suggestions below might also help with appreciating your old life, without going back and living the dangers of it. For instance, you might:
Remind yourself of the painful moments too. When you’re feeling burnt out on recovery and you’re thinking about the good moments in your life of addiction, remember that there were some dark times too. In fact, those challenges were likely so great that they are what keeping you sober now. Sure there were wonderful times and you had great inner freedom to be who you are but that freedom came at a cost. Remind yourself of the destruction that drinking or drug use brought on.
Make a list of how recovery is helping you. Although recovery is not meeting your social needs or not mirroring who you are, it is keeping you alive. It’s giving you a foundation to make the necessary changes in your life to stay sober. It won’t be long when you’ll have friends, and perhaps the lifestyle that you want, but without the drinking and drug use. Recovery itself is a powerful force. Focusing on what you’re getting out of it might help you move out of recovery burnout.
Get together with an old friend who is now also sober. Perhaps you know of someone who you used to have great fun with but who is also sober now. If you can get in touch with that person, perhaps you can reminisce about the fun times together so that you’re not the only one who is missing them. Find someone who also values sobriety just as much so that the two of you don’t convince one another to return to using.
Make a list of why you would never return to using. Although you are burnt out on the world of recovery, the alterative is one that you don’t want to return to. If you can remind yourself of the challenges, difficulties, and hardships, you might appreciate what recovery is doing for you. Of course, you don’t have to spend too much time on this because it might stir up difficult feelings. Once you feel grateful for the recovery process you’re in, move on to something else.
Discover ways that you can make the most of recovery. Sometimes, we can have a general feeling about something without giving it deeper thought. In this case, is there someone you can think of in your circle of new friends that might be someone to spend more time with? Would he or she make recovery a bit more engaging? Is there an activity or group that you could bring to your community that might make recovery what you want? And perhaps for others too? Maybe there’s simply something you need to add to your life so that you can experience freedom and wildness in life in different ways. For instance, experiencing exhilarating moments while rock climbing, hiking to the top of mountains, or bungee jumping. How can you make recovery your own?
Recovery might not come with the people and vibe that mirrors who you are. And if you’re feeling burnt out on recovery, it might be useful to find ways to make it what you want. Doing so might be the way out of burnout and into gratitude.
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