This is my new friend, Josie. Well, I’ve followed her blog for more than a year, so she’s hardly a new friend. It’s just that we only recently realized we lived about an hour apart, which feels like the same town in Blogland. One of my favorite blogs is by a woman in New Zealand, for chrissakes.
Meeting Josie and her lovely family (more on that in a bit) was due in large part to Christy over at Running on Sober. I’ve never met Christy in person, but one day I hope to. She encouraged Josie to do her first ever 5K, and Josie mentioned one close to me in support of National Recovery Month, and then other blog friends wrote words of encouragement and really I’d need a whiteboard to map out my point, which is that it all felt very interconnected and cool to be a part of.
Race day came and I was less nervous about doing a race and meeting a new friend than I’ve ever been. I don’t know if I’ve properly conveyed how stressed out I’ve been lately over work and family schedules, and honestly I hope I haven’t. They aren’t end-of-the-world type issues, but I was feeling them hard and I let that anxiety trickle down into all areas of my life. In hindsight, I needed something positive to focus on, which is where the 5K and meeting Josie came in.
Usually when I meet someone for the first time, they’re not at all like I’m expecting. They don’t look or talk or act like how I’ve imagined them. I think this speaks to the openness and honesty of Josie’s blog, but she is just as down to earth and friendly and lovely in person as she is in her writing. I felt an instant connection meeting her in person.
This is why I blog – to stay connected with others in recovery. I’ve realized in recent months how easy it is to get busy or burnt out and how that leads to a natural complacency in recovery. I do believe these cycles are an inevitable part of recovery and pose no real threat if we address them. I can’t always be moving forward and stress will hit and hurt and there is little I can do in those moments but hold on. But I need to keep an eye out for the good things to grab ahold of too.
The 5K itself felt low key and low pressure. There were somewhere around 100 participants and it was held in a beautiful state park less than a half hour from my house. Josie and I lined up at the back since we were walking this one, and then we pretty much gabbed for the next 50 minutes. Talking to someone and dodging countless earthworms on the path makes a near-hour fly by, let me tell you.
In addition to meeting Josie and walking in lovely, fall-like weather, I also had the pleasure of meeting her family. The two words that come to mind are charming and adoring. The mutual love and respect was a privilege to witness.
I know my family was the number one reason I stopped drinking. Okay, maybe the hangovers were too painful to ignore, but I couldn’t take the thought of hurting my kids or husband with something I wasn’t enjoying much anymore anyway. Since I stopped drinking, those relationships have blossomed in ways that are hard to describe. Sometimes they feel too raw and my flaws too exposed. Other times I’m struck by the simple beauty of the moment – the smell of my little one’s head after a bath, how hilarious my husband can be, how clever and sweet our 12 year old is, especially with her sister – and then I feel how deep these connections are in a way I don’t remember before.
Sober friendships feel equally important and come more easily than any other kind. When I first got sober and heard other women talk about their sober girlfriends, I thought not me. I stopped making new friends easily somewhere around young adulthood and felt mostly okay with that.Then, around 6 months sober I made my first sober friend at a meeting and then added a few more here and there and looked up one day to see a network in place. Some people live within minutes of my house, others live impossibly far away but are no less important.
Sober talk in general feels stripped of the pretense and guardedness I normally feel when I meet someone new. Sober folks are also some of the friendliest I’ve met, so don’t be afraid to reach out and comment on a blog you like or talk to someone you relate to after a meeting. That’s how I got started and where it’s taken me feels pretty incredible.