On Monday I returned from my first sober vacation…still sober.
There were a few instances in which I felt a little anxious about not drinking but with a few deep breaths and thinking about what awful things would probably happened if I picked up a drink, I was able to calm myself and even have fun.
Friday was spent traveling to the beach and then having lunch once we got there. I was probably the only one there who noticed that no one ordered alcohol with their meal. We grabbed a few groceries, dropped our belongings off at the beach house and then headed to the sand. We had a late dinner Friday evening followed by a short trip to a bar where the bartender kindly gave me my non-alcoholic beverage for free. He had a look in his eye that he understood and for that I was grateful. My friends and I spent most of the evening laughing harder than we have in a long time. And I was sober.
Saturday morning three of us woke early and walked to a nearby Dunkin Donuts for coffee and conversation. What a blessing to wake up refreshed and with a clear head to be able to do that. Then I made breakfast for everyone and the majority of the day was spent at the beach. We went to a well known restaurant for dinner and then a night club. I WAS SOBER IN A NIGHT CLUB. This is unheard of for me. The unbelievable (for me) thing was, I was stone cold sober and yet I laughed and danced and sang along with the music and enjoyed every second.
Sunday morning I made breakfast again for the group and then we spent part of the day at the beach. I was burnt by this point and decided to go back to the house alone. On my walk back, I stopped at the Dunkin Donuts and treated myself to an iced coffee. I read a book this day and we went to dinner again and then took a short trip to the boardwalk. By evening, I was ready to head home the next day as I really missed my babies.
My amazing sober buddy checked in with me daily while I was away. I took deep breaths. I stayed in the present. I intentionally looked for the blessings that my sobriety brought: early mornings with NO hangovers, feeling present, being able to make breakfast for my friends, knowing that I and the people I love were safe because I was the DD, fully enjoying the sunshine without the haze of alcohol, no shame or guilt, and I remember everything. EVERYTHING.
There were so many moments on this trip that I wanted to fall to my knees and thank God and the Universe for this chance to change my life. I’m choking up now just thinking of this. Nearly 6 months ago when things fell apart for the final time while I was drinking, I didn’t think life could be like this. I was so miserable and lost. When I decided on December 18 that I just could not have another drink and survive, I thought I was walking from one miserable life right into another miserable life but in that moment, in my mind, anything would have been better than continuing to drink. At that time, sobriety meant no fun, no friends, isolation, anger and sadness. I was so focused on what I was having to give up that I couldn’t see what I might gain.
It is by the grace of God that I pushed through all of that and kept going. And there are no words to describe how grateful I am that I’ve made it to this point. Now I can see that what I gave up was not fun and friends. I gave up being controlled by alcohol, I gave up shame and guilt, I gave up self-destructive choices, I gave up completely ruining my children’s childhoods, I gave up running from all of my problems. I gave up faking who I was and what I wanted from my life.
I gained the ability to feel everything, good and bad, an appreciation for the here and now, and the chance to strengthen and deepen relationships that truly matter. I gained an appreciation for how strong I truly am. I gained a sense of self that I had no idea was available to me. I gained the knowledge of beginning to figure out who the authentic me is and what she wants from this life. Sobriety has brought me to a place of self-love that I never knew existed.
I read stories from others who are on their own recovery journey and before when I would read things like, “sobriety is such a gift,” I had no real understanding of what that meant. But now, today, I do. I get it, I really get it. Even on the bad days, sobriety is so much better than where I used to be.
So if you’re reading this and you’re not quite there yet, have faith that it can happen for you too. You are not alone. So many of us have been there but you are strong and you are worth it. You will not regret giving yourself this beautiful gift.
Life is so much sweeter, sober.