AA Rule 62 – “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” Seriously. The realization that we can have fun in sobriety doesn’t always dawn on us when we first get clean. Coming into recovery, I had the mistaken idea that I was signing off on a life sentence dooming me to a future of musty wooden cellars filled with cigarette smoke, coffee stains, and grumpy old men.
I couldn’t imagine what fun you could possibly have in sobriety, without drugs and alcohol. For some reason though, I saw a lot of people around me having a lot of fun – and they weren’t using drugs or alcohol either. That’s when someone told me something that has stuck with me to this day, “If you are bored in your recovery, its probably because you’re a boring person.”
Rule #62 is one of those old sayings that are stalwarts in the rooms of the 12 step recovery communities that are applicable to all of our lives. When I’m spending all of my energy on being this rigid automaton, I miss out on the beauty happening around me. Here’s the problem – if I take myself so seriously that I miss out on having fun in my recovery, I’m going to burn out, and start to ask myself, “What’s the point in even being sober?”
I don’t remember a whole lot that was said to me in my first 30 days sober to be completely honest. But I do remember the first time that I laughed. Not the forced chuckle that I had perfected when around other people to fit in. I’m talking about the deep belly laugh that made me gasp for air and my eyes water. I don’t remember the joke that was told either, but I clearly remember feeling a part of something, feeling connected to the guys around me, and realizing that sobriety didn’t mean I had to be miserable. It was the moments like these that got me through the difficulties of early recovery. Slowly, they became a regular occurrence in my life. Rule 62 of Alcoholics Anonymous is all about taking that lighthearted perspective and applying it to your own life. The ability to laugh at yourself not only makes life more fun; it also makes you a lot more enjoyable to be around!
I struggled with this quite a bit when I was new in the program and spent a lot of time trying to be perfect. I had to step outside of my comfort zone and as a result, found myself enjoying my sobriety a lot more. Going to a dance or a party? Go out on the dance floor and dance like nobody’s watching! Make a mistake or do something silly? Step back and have a laugh about it with your friends! Nobody is perfect, and it is the quirks and imperfections that make us all unique and give texture to our personalities and relationships.
Some of the most fun I have had in my life has been in sobriety. From picking up new hobbies, to building new friends, to conquering some of my biggest fears (bungee jumping anyone?), I wouldn’t trade the experiences of the last few years for anything. The laughs I have shared and the bonds I have formed are a couple of the things that keep me around, and the relationships I have built always give me something to look forward to. A year from now, you’re going to look back on yourself and laugh anyways, you might as well do it today!