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Chop wood, carry water

Old 04-20-2015, 03:03 PM
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Chop wood, carry water

I'm sure most of you have heard it:
"Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water"
"After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water"

My life before I started drinking was a daily exercise in the futility of going to work, to pay bills, so I have a roof to sleep under, so I can go to work the next day, in order to pay the next set of bills. Lather, rinse, repeat. Totally lacking in anything that gave me a feeling of meaning or purpose.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I tried. I joined gyms, book clubs, online dating, therapy...ad infinitum. Still felt like I was just chopping wood and carrying water. No joy. No real happiness. Just going through the motions day in and day out.

Then came the interlude of drinking, which did give me happiness until it turned on me like it has done to all of us who are here. I ran with it until I could no longer. Thus, that option has been scratched.

Fast forward to today. Now I'm sober! Hooray! I get a new lease on life. And what is that life now? Exactly as it was before the drinking; chopping wood, carrying water. No real joy, no real feeling of daily happiness. Just going through the motions. Work to pay bills so I can go to work.

Anyone relate? Anyone climb to the other side? If so, what worked for you?
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:07 PM
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Travelling. New languages, cultures.
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:33 PM
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I've begun to believe that once we are sober, then alongside and even within the chopping and the carrying, we can begin to begin the journey of our life's purpose.... Encountering our unique gift, and giving it away.

There, I suspect, lies our greatest fulfillment.

Don't ask me how, though... I'm in the throes of the journey.... And I have no map.

But I'm glad to be sober and taking it.
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:42 PM
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Going to work is the highlight of my day....what's that tell you about my social life? But I isolated horribly when drinking so I can't say I am any more bored now just more aware of it. The ex got all the friends even the ones I brought into the relationship. I think a lot of people don't know what to do with non drinkers.
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:54 PM
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Don't underestimate having a roof over your head and food in your belly, but I understand your question. What interests you? You tried some things that didn't hold your interest, which is fine because it's a process and determining what isn't your passion is also valuable and actionable information. One thought that comes to mind is to look at courses offered at your local adult schools. They can give you a very low cost introduction into some things that you may possibly be interested in. Woodworking, dancing, tennis, etc.

I wish you well.
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Gonnachange View Post
Don't underestimate having a roof over your head and food in your belly
This too. One thing I used to like to do is travel around to poorer countries, and spend time in the slums / poorest areas of those countries. When you get to know single parents who make $8/day, and are trying to raise a couple kids, it always helped put things into perspective for me.
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:09 PM
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Have you thought of doing a gratitude list
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:11 PM
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Read "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle

or "The Seat of the Soul" by Gary Zukav

Without those books, I would not have been able to find a spiritual connection in my life. And, for me, that is a necessary part of my recovery.
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:12 PM
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I have been that single parent making $8 an hour. I am thankful for all I have. I worked my butt off to get it. I think that Bmac just feels a little flat which I understand.
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:18 PM
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I feel your pain 100%

Find a new job!
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:21 PM
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I went room by room and cleaned my house, got rid of junk, sold or donated worthy items, and scrubbed ceiling to floor. Moved furniture, basically remade my nest. I joined the Y and took some classes, used the pool, took the kid to a few family nights, met some cool people. Started taking the kid to the bookstore just about every Sunday, we see a new movie every Friday night. Soon we can go fishing. My mother did our genealogy, we joined Daughters of the American Revolution and the Mayflower Society. Do what moves you, and if nothing is moving you, it's time for you to get moving. Much love to you.
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Old 04-20-2015, 06:30 PM
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To me that quotation seems to imply that the activities stay the same, but something else has changed.

Some of our daily activities are necessary and repetitive -- but completely irrelevant to how we appreciate the details and flavor of the moment.

Also, generally it's easier to do these necessary things without mental resistance than with (I think I picked that one up from Marcus A).

What used to be chores can become little accomplishments, with no change other than the way we describe them to ourselves.



"Brought to you by the Wisdomatic™ Recycling Program"
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Old 04-20-2015, 08:32 PM
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Hi BMac. I went through that earlier back in sobriety. The OMG is this it???!! The grinding sameness of lather, rinse, repeat. It lasted a couple of months from what I remember but it did pass. My life didn't substantially change either. I grew calmer about the routine, actually thanking it because I needed a normal routine for a while and the structure provided that. Slowly I've grown and with each step it gets better. My ability and skills to make changes so that I can get off the treadmill is more solid. My footing is more assured.

There will be time to do and make. Build your foundation and then you can fly.
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Old 04-20-2015, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Bmac View Post
I'm sure most of you have heard it:
"Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water"
"After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water"
I could have written your entire post. One of my motivations for drinking was the feeling of "chopping wood" at an unfulfilling job. At least with drinking I could get away from those feelings for a bit....

But my mind changed a few weeks ago when I was walking into the office on a Monday morning. I asked myself, "what did I accomplish this weekend?" The only thing I could think of was that I drank 6 beers on Friday, 8 beers on Saturday, and 10 beers on Sunday. And I realized how stupid that sounded--3 days I can't get back now.

Now I still have that unfulfilling job and my boss is a nut job on top of it. But when I am there I focus on all the things I like about it and that the company itself is great, even if my boss isn't.

In terms of other activities, etc....I haven't done much of that yet either. But in the 51 days I've been sober now, I've noticed my senses (especially my sense of taste) is a little sharper and I am a little more in touch with my feelings, emotions, etc....maybe I am just imagining these things, but I don't think so.

And the journey continues....
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Old 04-20-2015, 08:48 PM
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Ruby2, thank you for the excellent post. It made me think that's exactly the way it's been for me. I stopped aug 31, 2013. I went through a terrible depression. It's passed and part of it what helped was the "chop wood, carry water" concept. My life is now staring to fill out in different ways. Very little by very little. But moving in the right direction.
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Old 04-20-2015, 11:35 PM
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I think a turn inward to the spiritual is helpful. Note that I don't mean religious; it can be religion for some but I'm an atheist. I mean more about awareness and being in the moment. True knowledge of yourself and a maximization of your spiritual potential is more likely after you've been sober for awhile.

Some hope to find their purpose in life. I don't think that approach works universally. I don't think one's "purpose" is out there to "find" at all. You must make your own, you must choose one. We maybe all be here on Earth by accident. But not by mistake.
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Old 04-21-2015, 12:24 AM
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"i'll be happy if …. i'll be happy when " how many of us make our happiness pre-conditional .
You can find contentment in chopping wood and carrying water or you can find it in doing something else .

What is it that you want ? If you want contentment you can have it now by being grateful for and glorying in what you have .

Yearning for something unattainable , unending happiness without one moment of pain for instance is a true exercise in futility and sure fire way of making myself miserable IMHO .

I think there is a middle way between the two .

m
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Old 04-21-2015, 03:41 AM
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I can relate.

Honestly, after I quit drinking, I was just sober and going through the motions.

I had to dig deep emotionally and make some changes.

I decided not to go back to work after I had my second child. I realized that the job was unfulfilling for me. It was scary, but I took a leap. Then I got sober. I went thru the motions for a few months, then I had a spiritual awakening. I have stayed home with the kids for about a year and found true joy and happiness.

Since making this change, new doors have opened. I found that I like to walk every day. I enjoy and appreciate the public library. I have learned that while I was working we wasted a lot of money. I have been humbled by a very tight budget. I have less stress. I enjoy every minute with my family.

And I still get job offers. I am contemplating an offer right now. The thing is now is that I have more control over what I do and don't what to do.

My entire life I was so scared to take any risks. Growing up in an alcoholic family, all I wanted was order.

I finally took that leap of faith and its changed my life in so many amazing ways.

So, my advice to you would be, take some chances. It doesn't have to be drastic, like quitting your job, but maybe get out of your comfort zone a bit. See if that opens any doors to true joy and happiness.

Best of luck to you :-)
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:22 AM
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Wow, I really enjoy this thread.

I started drinking in high school and it got to heavy pretty fast. So I don't really have a before I was drinking to compare adult life to.

While everyone else seemed to be loving early sobriety
"I feel so much better without alcohol, don't you?"
"No."
I felt like it was a real grind. For me it took hard work to start finding what I enjoyed and even then a lot of the time I just did it because I knew logically I should enjoy it even though I wasn't feeling it.

My "research" (obsessive googling) lead me to reading about dysphoria in early sobriety and dopamine receptors. It turns out that we addicts have messed them up so much it takes a while for them to start functioning even close to normal again. So I accepted this and went through the motions.

All of the suggestions here are great. I do think it is important to make sure you are growing in ways that are important and will pay dividends but for me it also just took time away from alcohol. Everyday I feel a little bit better. I'm still in a funk a lot but I'll take it over where I was just a few months ago.

So for now I'm ok with cutting wood, carrying water and every so often getting a chance to laugh.

Keep it up BMac you are doing great and it does get better. As you grow and your brain/body heal, it gets better.
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Old 04-21-2015, 04:51 AM
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"Nothing changes if nothing changes." This saying has been with me along my sobriety journey. I've also really contemplated the statement that sobriety is so much more than not drinking. Having quiet time throughout the day is absolutely necessary for me; it gives me time to slow down, check-in with myself, and the opportunity for reflection. That and my dog. Having a dog is important If you cannot have a dog where you live, then plants....lots of living things.
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