As summer begins in Houston, the temperature begins to rise and we seek relief from sweltering heat. Whether it’s a dip in a pool, an ice cold beverage, or a nap in a dark, cold air conditioned room, we have options. But what about options to protect our sobriety in the summer months when we are bombarded with triggers? Summer events and outings are synonymous with drinking. Beach parties, barbecues, concerts, festivals, and parades are often sponsored by liquor manufacturers and beer distributors. What steps can I take to safe guard myself and my sobriety this summer and still have some fun?
My first line of defense is a morning meeting at my home group, Eyes Wide Shut. I start my day at 6:30 am Monday through Friday with a meeting not for the faint of heart. We are a tight knit group that laugh our heads off, sometimes cry, but always enjoy ourselves at an hour when most are still sound asleep. After the meeting I head off to work at Harvard House Houston, while a small group usually heads to breakfast for fellowship at Whole Foods because to quote Dave U. , “half foods availed us nothing”.
Another invaluable lifeline is having constant contact with a strong support system. I do this in a couple of ways. I send three to four text messages every morning just to say good morning. Later in the day I send another set of text messages, and in those, I try my best to say nothing about myself. Instead, I ask about the other person to try to get out of myself for a bit. I have made it a habit at meetings to approach one person I don’t know or don’t know well and get their phone number so that I can add them to my text message list. This is a habit that has taken time to put into practice. I preach it to those I sponsor and to anyone that I mentor. Picking up the phone and talking to someone when things are good is easy, but doing that when I am struggling requires true effort, and if I was not in the habit of doing it I would be in big trouble.
Fellowship is a big part of the recovery process and it’s something I had to learn how to do. Learning how to have fun in sobriety requires me to be present and engaged. I’m fortunate to be a member of the Lambda Center where there is a flurry of activities and functions. One of the privileges of being with Transcend is extending the hand of AA to our residents, and including them in those fellowship activities. While Transcend offers a variety of support tools and resources that best suit the individual client, AA is a popular program to help instill a sense of fellowship in recovery. I am amazed at how surprised many of them are at having had such a good time after attending their first AA fellowship function. To see the light in their eyes and the realization that there is fun to be had in a way they never believed possible! This is why we do what we do.