Early in my sobriety, I struggled with the notion that being sober meant a life full of boredom and discomfort. It was almost impossible for me to fathom that I would actually have fun again. However, I also did not get sober to live a boring life, so from the very start, I was determined to find many new ways to have fun!
One of the many benefits of the 12-step fellowship is that many groups organize sober fun activities, like movie nights, picnics, dances, and great camping trips! For the last several years, every Memorial Day weekend we pack-up the kids and pitch a tent in the woods, along with 50+ sober/clean people and enjoy some awesome, sober fun.
Camping has always been one of my cherished childhood memories, but when I was drinking, it became the free-for-all, get wasted party without any limits! I would wake up early and start the day with lots coffee and Bailey’s, followed by some vodka and orange juice and maybe (most likely), I would chug a few beers – shotgun style. By noon, I would be drunk out and passed out! Then I would get up in the evening, and drink until I passed out again. I never left the campsite for any activities, and I really was not able to. My memory of those trips is quite fuzzy… I am not sure what I did all those camping trips except for drinking and making an ass of myself. Although, I do remember bragging to people about how much fun I had, and how I managed to be drunk the entire time. Ha! It is hard to believe that I actually considered that enjoyable.
Nevertheless, in my mind, for many years, camping was directly linked to drinking, and it was just meant to be done together. So when I first heard about this sober camping trip, I thought, oh good grief, how can you go camping and not drink? What do you do with all that time in the woods? How boring is that?
The first time we went on this sober camping trip, I was a bit apprehensive about it because I was still carrying the belief that it would be very boring without drinking. However, and to my big surprise, it ended up being lots of fun! We had no schedule to follow, got up whenever, and stayed up late. We went swimming and canoeing, and took a hike through the nature trail. We made s’mores and hotdogs on a stick. We played soccer and football, hide and-seek. We danced, we laughed, and we made many new friends. We also created many new and wonderful memories to last a lifetime.
The best part was that we spent a weekend with people like us, all trudging the happy destiny of recovery. Every night we had a meeting around the campfire and we shared our stories of our triumphs as well as our struggles as sober people. Saturday night we gathered and prepared a huge dinner to share with everyone. It was so overwhelming to see newcomers and old-timers, people from all walks of life, working together for this amazing meal and yet we were only linked to each other by one common goal – to live a sober, happy AND fun life.
The 12-step program fellowship gives me the sense of belonging. It fills my heart with hope and with gratitude that we are here, alive and sober, and most importantly, not alone. Never alone! I think that the human connection is so very important in recovery. It is one thing to read about it, and completely different thing to live it and see it growing among people. All the things that make us human – the laughs, the hugs, and even the pain – make me feel like I am not strange – I am just a garden-variety drunk, like millions of other people dealing with the disease of addiction/alcoholism.
Most importantly, all my fears of life being boring and totally lame after I quit drinking, have been absolutely squashed. I have yet to discover an event that I had more fun at while I was drinking, than while I was sober! Times like this, when I can be present and in the moment, and have a clear mind to remember everything, and not hungover and barely able to function… these are the incredible gifts of sobriety! The great memories that I create today, I also put into my sober toolbox for those not so great days, when I feel like throwing in a towel. Then I pull them out and reminisce… then I am instantly reminded exactly why I am doing all this hard work to stay sober!
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