I have this very odd habit that has developed over the past year or so. I’ll be watching something; it can be a YouTube video, a tv show, or just an advertisement. No matter how old it is, when I see people socializing close with each other, it irks me that they are not wearing masks.
I could be watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-air reruns from 30 years ago and if they are near each other without masks, there are random moments where I need to remind myself that this episode is from 1991.
It is pretty incredible how conditioned most of us have gotten to socially distancing and wearing a mask. For me, the thought of going anywhere that is even past 25% capacity sounds terrible to me.
During the pandemic and in recovery, we not only had to do everything we could to stay clean and sober, but we had to get creative when it came to ‘hanging out’ with our friends.
The thought of going back to ‘normal life’ still seems like a stretch. Luckily, there are so many ways to still connect and enjoy company with others without having to be in the same room.
Finding Online Communities
For the past decade, I have been a part of the same internet forum/community. It is something that has always kept me connected to others, even when I was at my most isolated in my addiction.
Forums or ‘discussion boards’ have been around for a long time as far as the internet is concerned. Basically, they are an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. The topics are generally organized by main topics and then sub-topics.
Why have I been a part of the same forum for the past decade? It’s simple, the forum I post on mainly covers new music of all kinds but also covers TV series, Movies, Sports and a variety of other things.
The Sopranos is my favorite TV series of all time, so on my forum, there is a Soprano’s page with a bunch of other people who love it too. So instead of bothering my real-life friends who barely care about my 9th re-watch of the show, I can talk to other people who are also on their 9th re-watch of the show online! Get it?
It may sound strange, but I have made lifelong friends through online forums and have a fantastic outlet of people I can reach out to whenever on top of my sober network. Naturally, when you find other people who are into the same things as you, you begin to bond strongly! I love talking about my nerdy video games stuff and pro wrestling news (I know) with people who are just as passionate about it as me!
It’s certainly something to look into for those who have unique yet vital interests in certain things.
I know, a big surprise coming from someone who just said they were a pro wrestling fan, but there is a broad spectrum available in the online gaming world these days. Whether it is playing Call of Duty with a headset and a 4K TV or playing Checkers on a flash site with your bestie, there are so many different types of games to play online with friends.
I’ve done it plenty (obviously), and at times it really feels like you are hanging out in the same room. With gaming technology today, there are so many ways you can organize a group of friends together to all log onto somewhere and let the competitions begin.
You can also add Zoom into the equation and really get creative; I had a friend of mine run an entire Jeopardy game on Zoom with a group of friends! He was the host and had the board of categories and everything.
I got a PS5 during this pandemic, so that is how I’ve been spending my time playing online games — just saying!
Transitioning Back to Normal
I want to touch on something I find critical to cap this all off. We are in the part of the pandemic when a vaccine is available that can truly protect you from Covid-19. I’m not here to tell you whether you should get the vaccine or not, but to the people that have, allow yourself to plan something relatively ‘normal’ with a friend or two.
We are in a reality right now where it is okay to go out to eat and have a pleasant time with friends; just do your diligence to make sure there is still adequate caution to make sure you are responsible.
The vaccinations are a tremendous help as long as those who receive them do not act like they are impervious to Covid-19. Reach out to some friends who have also received the vaccine and carefully plan out something you haven’t been able to do in a long time because of this pandemic.
Let that first outing be a symbolic one. Symbolic of the previous year you have endured and managed to survive. Let it be symbolic that things are getting better and this pandemic won’t be forever.
Ultimately during this past year, we as people in recovery have done what we always do; we have leaned on each other for support. It just couldn’t be what we were conditioned to socially; we had to condition ourselves to learn new ways to stay sober and help others.