Guess who is going on her first sober vacation tomorrow? THIS GIRL!
Four other lovely ladies and myself will be heading to the beach a few hours away for a 3 day get away and I’m super excited. Let me be clear though – it wasn’t always this way.
When we first began to plan the trip a few months ago, I was very early into my recovery. The thought of going to the beach with some friends and NOT drinking gave me major anxiety. Apparently, the thought of going to the beach and my drinking gave some other people anxiety too. Another friend decided not to join us thinking it would be a crazy, wild weekend courtesy of yours truly and she didn’t want any part of that because she had witnessed it enough times before to know that it was not fun. Truthfully, I don’t blame her. It’s embarrassing for me to know that my drinking is the reason she passed on a fun weekend away but I get it. When I first learned of this (because she gave me a different excuse but then told others her real reason for staying back – me) I felt awful. I was humiliated and filled with shame, guilt and anxiety for around 2 weeks. I had to sit with that and own it. I’m not proud of who I was, but I know who I am now and I am incredibly proud of that woman. Also, when we were planning this trip, not everyone knew that I had stopped drinking at that time and those who did didn’t think I was that serious about it. They were wrong.
As time has passed and I approach the 6 month sobriety mark, everyone who is attending the trip knows that I am sober and very serious about my recovery. Everyone is okay with that of course and frankly, I don’t think they really care as they all have their own problems and issues to worry about. Funny how that works isn’t it?
Now I’ve gone from being anxious about not drinking to being anxious about being away from my kids for 3 and a half days because I’ve never been away from them for that long. And because I’m just an anxious person in general, so if I stop having anxiety about one thing, I just seem to find another to latch on to!
I know better than to get complacent though. That’s when, for me, I know a relapse could happen. I still remember how horrific it felt to wake up filled with shame and guilt and panic over not remembering what I said or did the night before. The humiliation of having someone fill in the gaps for me, often angrily or disappointed. I remember how much I hated myself…how self-destructive I had become and how little I cared. I never, ever want to go back to that. So for today at least, I choose not to pick up a drink.
I also have been proactive in how I’m going to handle things on this vacation. I know the girls won’t pressure me to drink because they now understand how serious I am about my sobriety. I’ve already told them that if I feel anxious or don’t feel comfortable going somewhere with them, I’ll just stay back at the beach house. I think it’s really important that I advocate for myself so I did. I’m bringing several books for the beach and for anytime I may stay at the house and need something to do. I plan on practicing yoga and meditating while away and I’ve made sure to pack my headphones so I can check in with my favorite sobriety podcast, Home. Of course I also know I can always check in here and read sobriety blogs or write if I need to. I also can check in with my wonderful sober friend who helps keep me in check at times if things get difficult. I feel secure in utilizing these tools so that I never have to feel so hopeless again.
Just writing this out now, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this beautiful gift of sobriety. Even in the midst of a divorce and still figuring out who I am as a sober person and working through all of the issues that led me to my addiction, I get to wake up sober and I am in awe of how blessed that makes me because I know the dark side of alcohol abuse. The old me would be looking forward to beginning my drinking at 10 am on the beach during this vacation and continuing until I blacked out each night and made a fool of myself. This new me, the authentic me, is excited to read on the beach, truly feel the sunshine and sand beneath my toes and sneak out to the beach in the early morning to meditate and practice yoga. I only appreciate these small pleasures now because I understand what a life filled with pain is like.
Life is so much sweeter, sober.