11 April 2011

Learning how to play

The seventh promise of Adult Children of Alcoholics says, "We will learn how to play and have fun in our lives."

Learn how to play… learn… how to play. Quite a statement. I didn’t know how to play. I wasn't raised to play... just play. Then the second part of this promise… have fun in our lives.

In my younger years, I thought I did know how to have fun. I partied all the time. Not just with booze, but drugs. Wild parties… weekend long LSD parties. Totally out of my mind… that was fun wasn’t it?

Weekend road trips from Yankton, South Dakota to New York City… drinking the whole way… that was fun wasn’t it? I know… pretty crazy.

I spent most of my younger years drunk or stoned and believing I was having fun. Pure insanity. My fun meant staying numb to any feeling. It meant never being alone… how can I have fun being drunk or stoned if I was alone?

First sobriety came and I learned that my idea of fun was creating a new daily hell in my life. For the first time in my life, without alcohol or drugs, I realized I had no idea how to play or to have fun.

The truth is I’m still learning. I needed to learn how to play without thoughts of winning. I needed to learn to play without manipulation. And how would I do that. Something that I have learned in the last couple of years and that is being vulnerable.

I had to learn how to be around those that seemed happy and having fun. It was quite uncomfortable for me... not just to hear the laughter... but to let my guard down and realize that the laughter was genuine was another story. Not knowing whether to laugh or to stay serious... at times had people laughing at me. Which at first hurt, but in time I started laughing at myself as well.

This promise sounds so simple but was extremely difficult because it really did bring me back to my childhood. With all the awkwardness and insecurities every kid experiences at one time or another. I will have moments where playing is exactly that playing and quite fun, while at other times, I'll catch myself in my old thought patterns and quit playing because I am having fun.

It is coming though. I can be a very carefree kid on my own. To throw away responsibilities and live for the day. I've kind of incorporated that idea into my life right now. One day a week... I do nothing but be a kid. I'll wake up and eat Captain Crunch cereal (my favorite as a kid.) I'll lay around and watch TV, play with my baseball cards, or read the Sunday funnies. The whole day is nothing. Nothing productive as an adult would see it... but for me, very refreshing, relaxing, and quite spiritual.

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