I spent most of September on the road, making a circuit around New South Wales and seeing the outback for the first time. It was a thrill. Baby emus, need I say more? As I went, I recorded lessons I wish I’d learned earlier, analogies between going on a road trip and being in recovery. Here are the three most important of those lessons.
One, it can be easy and fun, even when it’s new. This video was made before six in the morning, and although I’m almost always sound asleep at that hour, on this day it was easy for me to be up early and getting ready to get on the road. When I got sober I thought it would be a sad slog, and I was willing to try it only because I was desperate. What I found was that staying sober is often easy and my new life is often fun.
Two, get more support when you need it, and don’t shame yourself for it. In this video I’m wearing a jacket I’d bought that day because all the layers and preparation I’d done was still not enough for the current weather conditions. I caught myself getting into a spiral of negative thinking and pulled myself out by remembering that there’s nothing wrong with needing more supports (and that there IS something wrong with shaming myself for it).
Three, do what you need for you, and don’t worry about what other people think. I’m wearing a fly hat in this video, and even by myself next to the river I felt a little bit silly in that hat. However it turned out to be a brilliant solution to the bug situation. Not only that, some other campers told me how envious they were; they weren’t thinking about whether I looked silly. This is a perfect analogy for being sober and connecting with those people who wonder “could I have that too?” is why I’m open about my recovery.
This project proved one of my mantras — Everything is like everything. The way we approach a holiday is very similar to how we approach chores and friends and sobriety and business; our personalities shine through no matter what. And the circumstances have more in common than you might think.
I gained the discipline of doing a video every other day even when I was fighting with wind turning the tent inside out or feeling shy about recording in front of people. I strengthened the muscle of speaking up about what’s true for me and that’s one of the most important skills I developed in getting sober. Each time I made a new video it was spontaneous. I took the events of the past few days and looked for where there was an obvious parallel between the road trip and my recovery journey. What else did I discuss?
- Take the leap you want to take, even when you aren’t ready yet.
- There’s a lot out there that you don’t know about yet.
- You choose who to tell and when.
- You can’t see the whole path when you get started.
- You can’t be too rigid in your plans.
- Rest when you need it.
- Listen to your body and your inner wise voice.
The full set of videos was posted on my Facebook page so go there to see them all and to get a glimpse of the changing landscapes behind me. And when you’re ready to add another layer of support to your toolbox, join the Full Colour Recovery Program.