When my friend Jenna challenged me to stop being so serious and start enjoying life again, I didn't know how to do it. I'd forgotten what used to make me happy.
The advice we get is “change our playmates and change our playground.” That sounds great and makes complete sense. But what if you have few friends now, no safe playground, and no extra money to spend on entertainment?
I tried to recall what I enjoyed doing before drugs and alcohol hijacked my loved one’s life, and mine as well. I drew a blank. Jenna suggested looking at old photographs or going to a playground and watching children play to see if that jogged. That did bring a few to mind, but I was doubtful.
I decided to try each of them once to see what if anything would change.
- Up first was riding my bike. I dragged out my rusty used bike with two deflated tires and fixed it up. I rode it around the block and felt nothing change. I thought it was pretty outside, but there was no real difference inside. I still felt like a foreigner to fun, but at least I had tried.
- Next on my idea’s list was to go for a picnic. I wasn’t sure what this would look like, but I packed a tuna fish sandwich, fruit, and a drink and drove to a park. I walked around for an hour then found a place to eat in the shade. I felt silly at first, but could feel my body relax as I let the day breathe new life into me. This idea wasn’t a big deal, but it was a big change for me. To sit in silence, relax and take in the sights and sounds of my surroundings. It wasn’t exactly having fun, but it was better than sitting home watching TV or cleaning the closet.
- Go for a swim was next on the list. For some reason when I am stressed I avoid water. So putting on a swim suit and going for a swim was a challenge. Once I was in the water, it was as if the world suddenly changed. I relaxed, floated, watched the clouds roll by, and generally felt better than I had in a long, long time. This fun list was getting interesting.
- Next I tried playing ball with my dog. I have one of those dogs that loves to play ball. He was beyond happy when he saw me pick up his forgotten tennis ball. His complete excitement drew me in. We were playing and there was no agenda, but getting the ball back to me so I could throw it again. It was pure team work. We were playing together just because it was fun.
I noticed I began putting a fun idea on my to-do list each day.
Soon I had tried other ideas…going to the library and checking out a funny children’s book, walking in wet sand and looking at my footprints, writing a poem, baking cookies, taking myself to a dollar movie, and eating an ice cream cone.
Soon I renamed Sunday to my Fun day. Nothing but fun for the entire day. People started to notice I was acting different. I no longer constantly talked about my loved one’s addiction or my own struggles. I would tell them about the school of fish I saw when I went exploring a lake near my house. It began to spread. Soon my friends wanted to have more fun in their day. They missed having fun too. I was certainly no expert, but I knew I was living a more balanced life. Having fun again had turned my dark serious world into a beautiful place to live.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive by Nadine Knapp