Restlessness is a sure sign to me that I am not in my body. Even after three years and a couple of months in recovery, once in while I still become restless. It is rare, but it does come up for me. Yesterday even after meditation, a steadily busy day at work and an hour walk with a friend, I was still splitting at the seams. A drive home in more traffic than usual, an unexpected encounter, an apartment that was too hot to cook a good meal for myself in – all more reasons to come even more undone. I had hours before it was time to go to sleep and nothing I focused on could keep my attention for long. I had to figure something out because this will last a few more days if I don’t get myself back to center.
I understand why I am feeling restless, which is good to know. I just moved. The break-up is final. My daughter is gone for a couple of weeks. Most of the time when I’m feeling restless, it’s a cue to take really good care of myself. Back in the old days, the restlessness would vamp me up and I would turn into a self-destructive, unpredictable wild person. Luckily the opposite of that is true for me today and I am able to see that I need some self-care. I’ve been going to a lot of meetings and they help a little, but when it gets to a point where I am thinking about getting a tattoo (which probably could ease me back into my body, actually), I know that I’m in a bad space. Tattoos are ok. I have one. I just don’t want anymore, especially one that isn’t planned out very well. I can just imagine Jon Hamm’s face on my forearm holding a ‘Mad Men’ banner, or something even more outrageous. I really needed to place my attention elsewhere, so first things first – I ate a healthy meal. Nutrition and exercise are so important in recovery, but sometimes it isn’t enough, so what else can you do during times of restlessness an/or boredom?
Self-care during restlessness is the opposite of self-destruction, so that’s what I did last night. There is a quaint little massage therapy place close to where I live. They were slow last night, so I made myself an appointment and offered myself a little pampering. It absolutely helped. Afterward, I was in a different space and I slept very well. Upon waking up today, I feel more centered. The place I go is not expensive, which is great, but in the beginning of my recovery I may not have been able to afford any type of massage. I know how that can be. During these times, I would take myself to an artsy movie, or walk to a farmer’s market and engage with the people. Sometimes they offers massages for a dollar per minute at farmer’s markets. Massage is a great solution, especially if you can find someone who gets in tune with your body and feels what you need.
If you can’t get a massage, I encourage you to take care of yourself no matter what. Bake yourself your favorite dessert. Make yourself a delicious meal. Watch your favorite comedy – laugh out loud. Whatever you can do, or whatever you can afford to pamper yourself – do it. Talk to people who are also in recovery. This is a good time to do service as well, but don’t forget that you need some self-care too. Even buying a new item of clothing, or getting a haircut and color will change things up enough to loosen that discomfort in you. It’s important that you don’t spend money you don’t have, because that would be self-destructive. Spend what you can afford, and if you can’t afford anything, perhaps you can take a swim, or spend an evening with friends. Go somewhere new. Take a long walk and listen to soothing music. Pick yourself some wild flowers and put them in a vase. Take a bubble bath with lavender to sooth your restlessness. Love yourself and honor yourself back into your body. This has really helped me in the past, and it certainly alleviated the discomfort last night when I had a massage.
Restlessness is part of life. Any big changes, or even the slowness of life can trigger this experience. For addicts, however, this is a trigger to use or drink. Remember that recovery is doing the opposite of what we know, so instead of splitting into several parts of yourself and destroying everything in your path, reign it in and pull yourself together by taking really good care of yourself in these moments. If you are too busy to do anything for yourself (which is probably an excuse), just remember that this too shall pass. The restlessness is not eternal. It will flee at some point, but do not resist it. Find harmony within it. Allow to be with you and get curious about why it’s there. Learn something about yourself while you are experiencing the discomfort, and be present with it. Tell yourself it’s going to be ok, and then be good to yourself. Take one moment at a time and don’t judge yourself for being human. Peace be with you today. Remain sober (no matter what) and this too shall pass.