Every summer in August for the last 15 years No More Secrets (NMS) has come together with family and friends for our annual BBQ /SOFTBALL/PICNIC at a local park. We have grown from 26 people at the first one back in 2005 to almost 100 at this year’s event. The picnic started at noon and officially ended at 6pm. As the gods prevailed, there was no rain with a high of 74 degrees. Perfect weather for a perfect summer day in “community” in the park. What could be more healthy or normal than that?
The age range at the picnic was + 70 down to just 17 months. We had two sets of travelers fly in from back east, several drove in from out of state and a handful even took a ferry to get there. We had five men who were there with their fathers. We had nine couples and a total of fifteen minor children. We had eleven men who were attending at least their tenth NMS picnic and we had nine men plus eight women who were attending their 1st NMS picnic, not to mention five dogs. To say the least it was a wonderful turnout on a wonderful day.
Every year at the midway point 3 pm we collectively walk to a scenic spot in the park for a group photo. Our very seasoned group member/photographer positions us in a way to get the entire crew in one photo. Just the process of getting so many people assembled for the picture is hilarious to watch. With camera on tripod he instructs us and then runs into the photo waiting for the flash. After a series of pictures it’s time for a silly shot where we all get to act goofy. The entire process is a lot of fun.
As I often say during the course of the year when talking to a new guy for the first time who is wearing his shame on his sleeve, pointing to any of the soon to be fifteen photos on my wall, for all the passerby’s walking by on this sunny summer day in the park, watching us settle in and pose for a group photo as far as anyone knows “we’re just a normal family” or maybe it’s a church picnic or maybe a company picnic even though I doubt that one because there is no alcohol. To be one of many among friends is rare these days.
After the big picture we move to the softball field of dreams. So many of our members did not play baseball or for that fact play any sport growing up. So we encourage everyone to give it a go. We do not keep score, nor do we call balls and strikes. Everyone will get on base and we are all winners, without the participation trophy. Men, women and all the children running around the bases and just trying their best. One of our new younger members who does have a history of playing baseball did drive several balls over the 200 foot sign in dead center field a few times to the delight of everyone. Who knew! The highlight for me every year is when a man gets up to hit who has never and I mean NEVER had a bat in his hands and tries. The courage is what’s it’s all about and it takes courage to stop an addiction.
There is a great quote from the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book on page 132 that reads as follows: “We have been speaking to you of serious, sometimes tragic things. We have been dealing with alcohol [ADDICTION] in its worst aspect. But we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life.” That quote says it all. Recovering people have to do normal everyday fun stuff. We have to practice being in sync with the rest of society. The addiction has stolen those everyday life experiences that brings wholeness and richness to a person’s life. Addicts have to stop pushing on the river and go with the flow. Life works better that way. So in NMS we practice.
If any of this resonates with you, to be a member of a loving community of acceptance and fun. To finally fit in and feel safe in life then just maybe NMS is for you. If so, contact us. And remember misery is optional. We have a solution!