racepic (1)
Josie and me before the 5K

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.

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29 thoughts on “Connections

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  1. I’m glad y’all could meet. There’s something so good about looking someone in the eye and seeing that they get it. That they understand what it’s like to be in the kitchen trying to cook dinner without going batshit crazy since being sober means no wine to dull down the day. A friendship built on trust and mutual admiration is so much different than the ones built on six glasses of wine. There’s trust there.

    Thanks for this post. I’m glad to be part of your circle of sober friends. 🙂

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  2. Sigh. I can totally relate to this. Just started following a bunch of sober blogs and it has opened my eyes to the fact that I didn’t have to stop making friends years ago, either. Just this initial solidarity is so helpful. I’m starting to exercise again too and it’s no coincidence that most of the bloggers talk a lot about running or other forms of exercise

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    1. There is something to be said about the ease and convenience of online friends. I’ve found it to be an extremely supportive community. You’re definitely not alone in exercising. It’s a key part of my recovery. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment!

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  3. i read Josie’s account of this at her blog and it sounds like you guys had a lot of fun. What a truly great community i find myself in the middle of. Now, if i could only convince y’all to come to Yeaman!

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  4. This is a lovely story. Thanks very much for sharing it online with people you know and some you don’t. I also don’t quite have that making-new-friends knack that some people seem to have, and I sure don’t have any sober friends. So far, I’m relying on reading blogs to get some connection with what other sober people are up to, but it’s wonderful to hear about you making friends with sober women, and your meeting and connection with Josie. It fills me with hope, and I’m grateful for that.

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    1. I warmed up to making new sober friends in my own time, so don’t worry if you’re not there yet. It sort of happened naturally. For my first friend, she reached out after an in-person meeting. Sober blogs are a wonderful source of support and I’ve met some lovely people through them (leaving comments, emailing, etc.). If you ever want to chat, feel free to email me at byebyebeer@gmail. Thank you for your comment!

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  5. When I finally win the mega-millions powerball lottery, the first thing I’m going to buy? A private jet so I can fly out and meet you. You thought I was going to say to buy a monkey, didn’t you? Well where do you think we’re going to fly after I pick you up? To buy monkeys. In New Zealand. Duh.

    So glad y’all had a fun time. I’m proud of you both!

    I’m so glad you reached out to me oh-so-long ago. Grateful for your friendship, xo, c

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  6. I hate to admit but I’ve been putting off meeting someone in my neck of the mountains all summer. She’s not totally sober, she’s attempting moderating which is not the reason. It’s that awkwardness of meeting someone new that you mentioned (how old am I? Jeez!), how does she expect me to act? Look? What if she turns out to be one of those clingy, stalker types? (She did mention camping out on my front lawn for our first meeting.) I don’t know if I’ll do it, she may not be the “right” one for me to breach my virgin anonymity with. Thanks for giving me food for thought.

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    1. I would follow your gut. If you’re not comfortable with the jump (and it seems there are some red flags), you can still be her online friend, right? At meetings, people hand out phone numbers and meet at coffee shops all the time, but it’s a very different leap to take when we start out as online friends.

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  7. Hello my friend! So sorry it took me so long to comment on this beautiful post, back-to-school activities have me away from the computer, and I am way too slow to figure out my WordPress app on my phone!!

    Kristen, this post brought tears to my eyes. I most especially appreciate that I am the same in person as I am online. My goal is to be my authentic self, good bad or indifferent, and it’s nice to know I’m at least in the neighborhood!

    You already know how I feel about our meeting, and I am going to schedule the date for the Bates Motel, I just need to sync up soccer and altar boy schedules!

    Thanks for brightening yet another day, Kristen!

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  8. Sometimes it’s best to come late to these things, and bask in the love and glow of the comments. What a groovy thing y’all did, and really heart warming to read this and Josie’s account of it too. I do agree that there is a connection with many that transcends the 0’s and 1’s of the electronic world. Human interaction still happens here, even if there is no flesh or eye contact. And with alcoholics, open and forthright as they turn to one another to see themselves as part of a whole and not apart, we have that ability to just *get* it, even in just a few words. Mind blowing. And then to connect in real life and do the 5K? Rocket ship kind of cool.

    Thanks for this 🙂

    Paul

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  9. I’ll join the field trip to Mr Hall’s humble home town..! But what’s with all the New Zealand monkeys talk? Monkeys is not something we have a lot of (except in the zoo). Sheep and cows on the other hand…………

    Lovely post my friend and I adore the picture. Sometimes I feel all swelled up in my chest about the warmth and camaraderie I feel through the sober blogosphere. It’s un-fucking-believable. xxxx

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