Sober And Thriving

Before I got sober, everything I did revolved around alcohol.

I drank during the week. There was always a client dinner, a happy hour, or a special event. I also might have installed a beer tap at the office as a "perk" for staff and clients. My friends and I had season tickets for the Rangers and what is a hockey game without a few $12 beers, a hotdog, and a knish? On the weekends, my wife and I always hosted get-togethers for our friends. Preparing the cooler was an accustomed ritual I took pride in. If we went out to dinner, having drinks was the norm. Vacations were extra special because indulging on the beach during the day and then again in the evening at dinner was acceptable or at the very least, defensible. 

My wife was never much of a drinker, so I certainly did not make it easy for her. Babysitting a grown-ass man when you already have two kids is not something anyone would have willingly signed up for.

All of that considered you can imagine the culture shock when I realized that I had to remove alcohol from every aspect of my life.

How could I have a normal lifestyle without any alcohol? The concept sounded both terrifying and boring. 

It was difficult. I had anxiety, panic attacks, and some extremely painful nights out with nothing but a Diet Coke to protect me. I spent an entire night huddled in a stairwell at a Dave Matthews concert talking to my sponsor. There were landmines everywhere.

Adjusting to life in recovery was uncomfortable, to say the least. I felt awkward in social situations and there were not many places to go or things to do that did not involve drinking.

It seemed as if there was nothing to do that was alcohol-free and fun. I needed a place that had people with whom I could identify. 12-step meetings were a huge help, but they only occupied an hour of my time. I needed a YMCA that catered to alcoholics. I needed a bouncy house without the kids and the bounce.

There was not anything like that. At least, not that I knew of.

Instead, I continued to assimilate back into my old life but not without new boundaries. It took time, but I slowly became comfortable in my own skin. I had the unwavering support of my wife which made it easier. I remember her tasting every drink that was handed to me before I took a sip, just to make sure there was no alcohol. If I did not feel comfortable with the plans we made, she would understand. I was incredibly lucky to have her by my side.

Fast forward 14 years and I finally found something. It is not the YMCA or a bouncy house, but it is close. It's a place called THRIVE. It was not around back then but it is exactly the place I was hoping to find.

THRIVE is a recovery community center on Long Island. It is a safe, sober place for people in recovery to hang out. 

They have classes and workshops like journaling, meditation, yoga, art therapy, and open mic nights. You can even come by and watch tv or play some ping pong. There are computers if that is your thing. They even have an Xbox and a VR headset. 

It is not an outpatient, rehab, or housing facility. It is peer-run and peer-led, which means everyone who works there is in recovery. There are also recovery coaches available for anyone who wants to talk with someone one on one. The best part is that it is all FREE.

But wait. That's not all. Sorry, I had to say it.

There is also a program called THRIVE Everywhere. It's THRIVE but out and about. They bring substance-free events to the community all over Long Island. They have organized fishing trips, retreats, laser tag, movie nights, bowling, roller-skating, ice-skating, arcades, karaoke, drum circles, painting, BBQs in the park, yoga on the beach, boat parties, gardening, and even a silent disco. 

One of the biggest fears I had when I stopped drinking was that life would not be fun without alcohol.

I have learned that could not be further from the truth. 

I wish THRIVE were around when I was trying to get sober. Things might have been easier for me. Community and human connection are so important in recovery.

More important than anything. 

Things happen for a reason. My experiences have made me who I am. I get to share those experiences with others who might benefit from them. That is why I am sharing them now. You are never alone in recovery. Sobriety is not an island, and it doesn’t have to be a social death sentence.

These days, I try new things in recovery and my life is neither terrifying nor boring. As a matter of fact, you might even say I am sober and Thriving!


Popular posts from this blog

Definition Of A Hug

My Sobriety Is Like David Blaine

Cry Baby, Cry