Let’s Go Hiking! + Some Thoughts on Being Alone.
tl;dr: I’m hosting an IRL Urban Hike for sober/sober-curious folks. Scroll to the bottom for details.
So I’m planning this hike for the sober/sobercurious and contemplating a corresponding blog post, with the intention to write about the merits of community in sobriety. Makes sense, no? I share with you how becoming friends with other women who got it gave me the sense of belonging I’d always longed for, how quitting drinking and then finding my people—and truly seeing that I was not alone—eased so much shame, how possible it is to find joy and legit fun without the aid of anything external; I’d share with you all these true and positive things and then I’d pitch the hike and invite you. Straightforward, no biggie. But here’s the thing: I intended to post this on Tuesday, but every time I sat down to do so this other thing kept sidetracking me. So instead of forcing some “10 Reasons You Need IRL Homies in Recovery” list, I’m going to follow that thing, the opposite side of community, the part that comes before the part (or at least in tandem to the part) where we are figuring out how to be confidently sober out in the world.
This is the part where we acknowledge that in addition to finding our people, we must learn to be alone.
The early days being booze free: wanting so badly to carry on “normally.” Acting like it was no big deal when people asked about why I was no longer drinking even though my inner compass was spinning like a dervish. Going to bars and sipping on soda water and bitters as everyone around me got progressively drunker (and more boring), pretending that I was having just as much fun as everyone else. Doing my best to go through the motions of normalcy even though inside I was bursting at the seams, as all the puzzle pieces that had thus far fit together to create my life were suddenly yanked apart, shaken up, and spread out before me in haphazard piles. I didn’t know what I was doing but I knew that I had to figure out a new normal.
I used alcohol the way I did because I didn’t know how to cope with big life things. With an inner world always on red alert, and the pervasive sense that the proverbial rug was always just about to be ripped out from under me. Drinking worked, at first. Until, of course, it didn’t. So here I am, learning to like who I am enough that the thought of spending time alone, inside that pretty word, solitude, doesn’t make me want to run or numb.
What became clearer and clearer is that people with a deep, abiding sense of self-worth probably never drank themselves to some of the edges I did. So I’m doing my best to actively loving myself, or when that is too much, I consider what it might be like to feel neutral toward the thought of kicking it solo. What would it take to not hate spending time with myself? To not be creeped out by quiet? To vanquish FOMO, or at least create some tactics to not be bowled over by it (especially those initial Friday and Saturday nights at home alone nursing my seventeenth La Croix and blazing through episodes of British Bake Off until the wee hours)? To move through my days feeling steady, centered, instead of like even the slightest breeze might knock me completely over?
All of this to finally get to my point: yes, while part of this work is learning to like ourselves enough that the idea of sitting alone for an evening with only our thoughts (and if we’re lucky, a loyal pet or two, or I guess, like, an actual human) doesn’t make us, ahem, want to drink, we can’t live there forever, can we? I certainly don’t want to! I still want passion and fun and hijinks and a broad social circle IRL. I still like to drop in down low on the dance floor and laugh and have fun at game night with friends and be silly over long dinners at home with my roommates and go for coffee dates and dog walking dates and step into my gym day after day to get stronger with friends who have become family. And, the thought of a long day spent by myself? Something inside me blooms where it used to recoil.
Recovering who you truly are is challenging work, and can be dislocating if you do it all alone. When we share our experiences, we are no longer alone in our trouble. Other people understand. And there is no feeling like coming together in a room, or group, (or <cough, cough> on a hike) with other people walking this same path to be understood, which ultimately is what so many of us were looking for to begin with, right? A place where we genuinely belong. Our people. The realization that there’s only a stigma associated with us if we let there be.
ALL THIS TO SAY: Join me on a *free* urban hike on Sunday, February 10, at 10am. It’s a five mile, three-hour hike, and we’ve already got a nice crew assembled.
You can be in AA. You can not be in AA.
You can have 5,000 days, or five minutes.
You can be decidedly on the fence; “sobercurious,” as we say.
Come hang out. I can’t promise there won’t be awkward moments (ha). I can promise that you can show up exactly as who and how you are, and it will be perfect.
What: Urban Hike in San Francisco, CA. Hike starts and ends at The Castro Theater.
When: Sunday, February 10, 10am-1pm.
Details: We’ll explore three hilltops, a eucalyptus forest, unmarked hiking trails, hidden stairways, I’ll share some SF history, and we can just chat and get to know each other. Wear shoes you don’t mind getting a little muddy, bring layers, plenty of water, and a snack. Depending on how everyone feels, we might grab tacos after.
Email me for additional details and to RSVP at email@example.com.