We have a new Bernese Mountain dog puppy. He carries a big name:  Vida’s Heroic Sacrifice of Leonidis v Sterling.  We call him Idis.  Our little guy is six months old and weighs 60 pounds.  Every morning I am awakened by a nose breathing hot air in my face. His bladder is full and his belly hungry and he’s ready for attention. I can’t resist his begging eyes, so I pull myself out of bed and stumble to the door. I more often than not trip over him as he expresses his exuberance by bounding all around me.

He doesn’t care that I still want to sleep. He’s ready to be fed. He’s ready to go outside. He’s ready for my attention. Every day is exciting to a puppy. Give him food, water, a chance to go outside to relieve himself — and maybe a good belly rub; a little attention and love; and he’s happy.

As he gobbles down his breakfast, I brew my morning coffee. I need my caffeine fix for the day. This morning while drinking my first cup of joe, I read in my daily meditation about the importance of laughing and having fun in your life.

The concept of laughter and fun seemed unreal during my first minutes — hours, days, months, even years — in sobriety.  I have to admit I hated the fact that I had to get sober, and one of the reasons I allowed myself to stay drunk and sick for so long was the fact that I did not want to stop having fun. Can you possibly have laughter and fun in your life without booze?  I was convinced that the answer was a resounding NO!  I did not even know where to begin, because I couldn’t remember a time when I laughed without a drink in my gut or a glass in my hand.

Laughing felt odd to me sober. It even felt wrong, like I was faking it — or that, if I looked like I was having fun, others would think that I was drunk. I’d catch myself laughing and literally feel guilty.

Prior to my recovery, I was drunk when I did everything, so living without alcohol felt scary.  Many times I chose to stay home and not go out because home was safe. Staying home gave me permission to not deal with the outside world for the day. When I laid my head down on my pillow at night, I felt joy just knowing that I made it through another day without a drink. If that was all the joy I felt that day, it was enough.

Slowly and surely the more days that passed, the easier it was to go out. I would find myself enjoying small bits of pleasure. Moments here and there.

There’s a saying that you have to walk before you can run. I had to take small steps into sober fun. I had to recognize that the laughter was real, absorb it and feel it deep in my soul. One small step; but a step in the right direction for this alcoholic.

As I’m writing this, my puppy is trying to hide from my grandson. As he scoots behind my chair to hide from my grandson’s loving — but too rough — hands, the child thinks the puppy is playing hide and seek. The boy is laughing and enjoying the game of finding the puppy. How can I not laugh and find so much joy in such innocent fun?

I am so grateful that laughter has returned to my life and, as sobriety has changed so many things in my life, it has also changed my idea of laughter and fun.