Last week’s Inverse Pitching newsletter offered up this query: let us know some other ways you’ve taken on your recovery. What have you replaced booze with? Luckily, four readers who also happen to be writers offered up some suggestions that have worked for them so far. If you’d like to sign up for Inverse Pitching, please do so here!
I’m Learning How to Speak German (Kind Of)
I wanted to learn German because of this description of Kafka: “He is absolutely incapable of lying, just as he is incapable of getting drunk.” Terrible model, obviously, for one’s personal life. But still: it sounded so good and pure! So when I stopped drinking, I thought I’d fill some time by learning German, to inch closer to that impossible asceticism. I wasn’t prepared, in early sobriety, for how porous and slow my memory had gotten. The unfamiliarity of the German I read mirrored the new strangeness of reading English. Now I use one word as a little refrain: trotzdem, “nevertheless.” I repeat it to myself when I’m feeling impatient. It’s nothing super structured. I have this book of poetry with English on one side and German on the other, and I just read one side and then the other and kind of absorb my own incomprehension, pick out a couple words I like, copy them down. If it were a class I’d totally fail, but it’s soothing. — Diana K.
Let’s Call it “Poetrism”
I have this very, very structured morning routine I try to abide by every day and have so far managed to complete and now augment. Before journaling, I’ll read a bit of Stoic philosophy. I know, I know–this is the philosophy that’s been co-opted by self-aggrandizing Silicon Valley jerk-offs, Alt Right vermin, and self-help charlatans and impostors, but it’s done wonders for my recovery. (I later discovered Stoicism’s founding principles closely influenced the 12 Steps so yeah there’s that but so what.) I’ve been “practicing” Stoicism for more than a year and it’s become my Higher Power’s higher power, undergirding most of my decision making and reactions.
Also: every morning I try to read one poem out loud before I check my evil iPhone. It’s almost a habit. A good starter book for this is the Billy Collins Poetry 180 series which has multiple volumes. – A.J. D.
Just Don’t Do It for the ‘Gram
In my second year of sobriety I became very unemployed. Looking for something to fill the time and my mind, I took up cross-stitching. This is how I do it.
I thread the needle, which requires steady hands. I puncture the needle through canvas, following the pattern laid out before me; I don’t stray too much because I trust that the pattern will, in the end, give me the image I want. It takes time, slowly bringing that pattern to full, threaded life. If I make a mistake I go back, cut the thread, untangle the error, move forward. When it’s done the blank canvas has blossomed to life and color. I enjoy the result and give it away, because I only stitched it for the joy of stitching it. — Devin F.
I Knitted this for You, but It’s Really for Me
For me, knitting has been a perfect default thing to do with my hands and mind. In the past, I’d drink when I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so at the beginning of my sobriety, knitting was an especially good activity to do for hours at night, especially when the nights freaked me out (like, “what am I supposed to be doing this whole time??”). Knitting also doesn’t require other people, it’s incredibly easy and portable, and it brings me pleasure and anchors my thinking in a way I hadn’t anticipated — it almost feels like I’m stitching my own thoughts into order, too. It also keeps changing the more I learn and the better I get. It feels so good to be going deeper with a hobby, getting weirder. — Edith Z.
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