I am approaching seven years of sobriety. It hasn’t been easy. It has been rewarding for myriad reasons, part of which includes learning to practice developing my patience and extending my fuse so I am less prone to reacting immediately in anger. The thing that has helped me out the most through all of this is giving myself mental buffers. If I encounter a situation like a stressful email, I may re-read it several times.
Or I may just reply quickly to be done with it.
In life, when I encounter situations that may be triggering for me to relive pre-sobriety moments, I try to avoid them. I don’t walk down the liquor aisle at grocery stores, which I dub “the danger aisle,” and whenever I go downtown, I try to avoid smelling the cannabis that fills the lawless streets. It’s tricky to block out all possible triggers, but at least for the biggest ones, I can avoid surrendering myself to them with the tenant of AA of having a higher power without being overly religious.
My higher power is my writing goal.
If I’d rather write “The Story” than drink or smoke, then that means I have to prioritize my time and block out the time to do so. That means if there’s a videogame that is not providing any satisfying mental relief, it should go. If I’m interacting with people that are dragging me down then I should stop letting them subtly upset me. If I’m late to an appointment, I should learn to rationalize that I did everything I could to leave, so if it’s a traffic jam, then there’s not much else I can do besides sit through it and get there without being reckless.
I am also learning to block out time to explore my curiosity.
My moseying meandry just now let me wander around and wonder about certain things. I took my mind off the work I had just done and the stress I had just taken on by a matter of existing, and looked over the number of loathsome Funko Pop figurines scattered throughout this office. I thought about how if I received one, even as a gift, I would decline to receive the gift. I have blocked myself from receiving these things already, of which I have so far had zero opportunities to get one for free, oddly enough, since their ubiquity might guarantee that they would end up everywhere. I own three or four pieces of merchandise made by Funko, but they are not the trashy super-deformed that I gazed my eyes upon as I stared into the abyss.
I use blocks of downtime like that to explore my inner thoughts and feelings.
When I worked elsewhere, on days, I’d use my breaks to wander around outside. I’d meander through the streets and on longer lunch breaks go into town, run errands, or get lost to find myself. If not, if I kept on rushing through life without any sense of blocking out time to reflect on what I’ve done and where I’m doing, I would invariably load up on needless stress.
I am learning the power of idle time.
If I don’t feel like doing something, then it becomes a question of what is distracting me from that task. If I feel cold, am I staying hydrated and in motion? If my back hurts, what can I do to adjust my sitting posture, or, should I stand? I should remember my pacing, too, since this is the first of a six-day workweek, so if I’ve been feeling tired the past few days and if I’m feeling tired now, then I should plan to sleep sooner than usual.
Using a calendar to block off time for other tasks can include “Sleep Sooner Than Normal.”
I don’t block off time to meditate. More, I find that time throughout my day, like I did during that break where I meandered around to decompress, even though I didn’t have much consciously that I needed to decompress from. It’s more internal. I’ve just got over the worst I’ve ever felt and even eight days into feeling good, I still must be worried about going back. A physical therapist recently told me not to worry about slipping back into having moments of headaches, which I take to mean all of the above.
We’re not able to perform at peak performance for our entire lives.
When I took my mindfulness class, I jokingly practiced mindlessness, which for me is the act of clearing my mind of everything and letting everything happen naturally. When I practice mindlessness in platformer videogames, that means I just go through and do the jumps without calculating every motion. Sometimes, this is just what needs to happen. When precision is required, this isn’t the best approach.
That’s where I block myself from superfluous activities.
My job is easy in many ways, with a low enough tolerance where if I make a mistake, unless it is big enough, I’ll usually be fine. There are frequent micromanagement adjustments, but those I see as part of that whole mindlessness approach, where I just let everything happen naturally. I have no attachment to their processes. When I’ve tried to contribute my writing or editing abilities, as of recent, I’ve encountered enough pushback where I don’t see the value in helping them succeed when they don’t see a point in helping me help them.
In that way, I block out their time for my own thing.
If I’m fired for it, or anything else, that will be a good outcome. I won’t be triggered by it. This job is stressful enough, in that sort of learning to adapt to stress perspective, where I would be glad to downshift into something even easier. I’ve built up the workflow where I could work anywhere I have a network connection.
Even without a network, I can send essays to myself later so I can keep blocking time to write every day.
|Sources: My personal and professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: I’ve been thinking about how taking beta-blockers has helped me address anxiety by stopping the over-registration of anxiety. It’s still there, but it’s helping me figure out how to assess things more accurately.|
|Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.|
|Picture: Blocking out more time by using a template.|
|Written On: 2020 February 21 [1:08am to “get there without being reckless” to 1:15am. From 1:30am to “I’ve built up the workflow” to 1:48am. From 2am to 2:02am. Gdocs.]|
|Last Edited: 2020 February 29 [Second draft; final draft for the Internet.]|