Individuals sometimes make a start on their recovery journey with trepidation, unsure of whether sobriety means being resigned to a righteous and boring life. The elusive draw to dysfunction can make us fearful of being set on a more stable and constant path. We who have experienced real freedom assure those still skeptical that sobriety is exciting; that we can sincerely be happy, joyous and free. But to those still on the outside just beginning to look in, the question remains, “have you a sufficient substitute?”
After a cold and soggy start, The Last Resort Dragons gathered Saturday morning at Walnut Creek Park to participate for the second time this year in the Sober Recreation Committee of Austin’s softball tournament. The enthusiasm from TLR staff, alumni, and current residents was so great that those in attendance were more than enough for two full teams. Our hunter-green jerseys and the embraces of our fellows sparked warmth enough to take the field.
Shortstop and TLR current resident commented, “Nobody asked me if I was any good at softball, they just asked me to be on the team. You hear about the experience of being a part of and I guess that’s what it means. Being included and important just because I’m a person was a powerful realization.”
TLR alumni in attendance ranged from less than a week out of treatment, to over two and a half years of consecutive sobriety since graduating from The Last Resort. A TLR alumnus shared, “I played baseball growing up, and even into my active addiction. Those experiences were about the outcome. Did we win? How did I perform as an athlete? Today I came to play, but I also came to be with my brothers. Some of us are really good and others of us probably haven’t ever swung a bat. But today we get to bring laughter and unconditional love into everything we do–that’s fun and that’s real freedom.”
On a Saturday some of us may have otherwise spent locked away from the world, a prisoner to our disease, we were gathered instead as part of a family. We stretched our legs on the field just as we stretch our souls out to the boundless opportunity for fun afforded to us by our sobriety. The happiness that beams from us so abundantly is “vastly more” than a sufficient substitute. And so the book tells us, “There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus, we find the fellowship, and so will you.”