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Taking my recovery on holiday

I really struggled from the start of the family holiday to be honest. Eeverywhere I looked people were happily drinking champagne, wine or beers. I used to really like to lap it up at a time like this (alcoholic + free booze = party time!) Really, I would go for it with no thoughts at all of how crappy, dehydrated and hungover I was going to feel. This was a huge trigger for me and one that I didn’t anticipate. I think for a very tiny moment, I contemplated having some wine and just throwing it all away in the name of the holiday and resetting my counter when I returned. You see how even then I knew that I would have Day 1 to face all over again, because I don’t even entertain the idea of managing to moderate. I have see the light there and I won’t fool myself that I can return to normal drinking. If I have a “fuck it”, I know exactly where it will take me. That party is over.

Anyhow, I didn’t drink. Another victory stored away and I know that the next time will be a whole lot easier, cause that is just how it works…lather, rinse, repeat. But, boy oh boy did that little bit of doubt in my resolve, set the fucking wolves on me! I opened the door a tiny crack and for the rest of the first week, I really struggled, not to stay sober, but to be content, feel safe, relax.

Also, I had thought that a break from the whole process of staying sober, tired of thinking about not drinking and all that, would be nice. That didn’t work either. I found that without my daily fix of blog reading, emailing, commenting and sometimes writing about my own feelings, I felt very vulnerable.

I don’t know if it was all to do with getting/staying sober? Why does everything have to be about that? Surely I can’t blame everything on quitting booze. But, I needed to feel better so I went back to my sober tools, stayed close to my sober network and did all of the things that I know work for me. My recovery is part of me now, a huge part in fact and I need it with me at all times. It’s my friend and it always has my best interests at heart. So, I read blogs, I contacted Lilly who was so kind and supportive and I listened to the Bubble Hour on loop until after a couple of days I started to feel like me again.

Me? Who is that now? Maybe that is part of the problem when we are thrown into a situation that we aren’t around much anymore. I don’t recognise myself when I am outside of my comfort zone and I have to be reminded that I don’t behave like that anymore. I have new habits, I have changed and I like the new me better than the old me. Even when it requires a bit of extra effort on my part, I don’t have to choose the easy option of just reverting to form. I have to choose sober everytime. I don’t drink anymore and if that is hard sometimes, then so be it.

The more sober I become, the more of a problem I realise that I had. I am still hugely addicted to wine. That really does make me want to work harder to get as far away from there as I can. If I ever have any doubts about whether I had a problem or not then I can remind myself hard it is to stay sober sometimes, how strong the pull to wine is, and I realise that I am where I need to be!

I love that without booze on holiday, I arrived without a hangover and had a clear head throughout. I was in sync with the kids eating, drinking, bedtime even! I woke refreshed everyday, had energy to play with them and I wasn’t chasing the next glass of wine all the time. I took baths after dinner, early morning walks on the beach and ate loads of cake. And on a very shallow note…I didn’t gain any weight!!

Oh and I don’t miss that feeling you get when you return from hols on a boozing roll, drinking every lunchtime and evening and you have to try and get yourself back on track. I used to dread the feeling of having to cut back again and of course, I would have also used the holiday as an excuse to put off any attempt at sorting out my drinking problem. What a depressing comedown that always was, then I’d have to admit to myself that there wasn’t really any excuse to drink, other than my inability not to.

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14 thoughts on “Taking my recovery on holiday

  1. I can relate. My Easter holiday this year wasn’t fun at all, to be blunt. Everyone was boozing around me and I just couldn’t ignore it.. they just boozed boozed boozed and it was a confined location and I struggled big time. Poo shitty sober poo shit that sucks. It just sucks. So yes, I relate, and yes, aren’t we clever.. clever us oh clever us. That doesn’t quite remove the sucky feeling though does it. Sigh. I hope that you are right and the lather rinse repeat will mean holidays in the future will be better. I’m sure they will. We are establishing new behaviour patterns and breaking old ones that have been there for ever. And really there’s no alternative, I for one am not going back to being that boozy miserable boozer that I was. Good job Carrie…. good job… xxxx

    • Yes I totally agree, sometimes it is just a sucky, woe is me time of it and I just do what I do and wait for it to pass. I can do my best to remove myself from whatever is making it worse if that is possible, give myself breathing space until it passes. I won’t drink either, yukky yuk, I can’t go back to that. xx

  2. Great job! The first few holidays (whether vacation, Christmas or birthdays, etc) suck ass to be blunt. But they still get better. In fact, they get so much better you actually look forward to them sober.

    Bravo Carrie!!!

    Sherry

    • I was looking forward to this one, thought that I’d gotten my head round being without booze, but seems that’s only in my day to day life. Guess I just need more sober vacation practice, can’t be a bad thing! I know that overall if I had to rate all areas of the holiday, the score would add up to a totally better experience than ones of the last few years.
      xx

  3. Oh, I like this!!! Your description of a sober holiday sounds a heck of a lot bettert than a boozy one. I’m sure I’ll be checking in on mine, too.

      • We are on day 3 and I’m doing well. Last night I had a couple of “poor me” moments. One that was a doozey. I pullied it together and just stuck to water. It was a good reminder that my booze brain is still lurking. Thanks Carrie.

  4. I’ve also had little breaks from blogging – which I had looked forward to – only to find that I didn’t feel quite right without it. Funny huh? Well done on getting through some tricky situations there. The last time I went away the person behind me on the plane was drinking white wine and I could really smell it! I was envious for a while, but not starting the holiday with a hangover (made worse by the dehydration you get on planes) was totally worth it!

    • I couldn’t smell it, though on holiday I had a sniff of my husband’s beer one night and it reminded me of that stale pub carpet smell, thankfully! It was just that I got caught up with that sexy sophisticated, relaxing on the flight, by the pool bullshit, where everyone looks way cooler than you, and is appearing to have a chilled out, fun time. The reality, for me, was none of the above!
      xx

    • I agree, the sober blogsphere really does go a longway to filling the void that not boozing leaves behind. I am happy to totally absorb myself in it if that’s what I need. thank God for all of you!
      xx

  5. I was so happy to read this. I am so proud of you for working through your challenges and triggers on holiday and making it through strong and appreciative of the benefits. And I was more than happy to be able to be there for you – especially as it’s no more than you’ve done for me in the past (and will do again I’m sure 🙂 Our text exchanges really helped me too, honestly, as did reading this post. I’ve still been flailing around a bit mentally and thinking about the year-long “experiment” concept has been an oddly comforting – if sometimes still daunting – idea. Plus, I really had a lightbulb moment when I read this paragraph:

    “The more sober I become, the more of a problem I realise that I had. I am still hugely addicted to wine. That really does make me want to work harder to get as far away from there as I can. If I ever have any doubts about whether I had a problem or not then I can remind myself hard it is to stay sober sometimes, how strong the pull to wine is, and I realise that I am where I need to be!”

    So, so, so true. Just this weekend I found myself staring hard and kind of longingly at a few bottles of wine poking out of the corner of a friend’s pantry – a friend who is a very “normal” drinker so in all likelihood they’ve had those bottles sitting there for god knows how long and they’re no more troubling or unduly tempting to them than a can of chickpeas. But not me. Sometimes just the sight of a bottle or a chilled glass of white can still mentally undo me a little – my mind spins a bit out of control thinking about it all and why it has such a powerful lure and why I can’t drink “normally” and should I/would I/could I/what if etc. And the fact that I have to spend SO MUCH time thinking about NOT drinking… well, that says a lot too.

    I’ve been feeling a little fatigued and fed up lately about all the time I spend thinking about recovery. Sometimes it feels like more of a mental obsession than booze did I swear. (Though I realise this may well just be Wolfie getting in my head telling me to back away from my support system.) So I also liked your line about recovery being your friend who has your best interests at heart. I think that we have to remind ourselves that it might take the year – the FULL YEAR – to really get a solid grasp on it – and that’s ok. Because when you were headed where we were headed with our boozing this really is a life changing, life saving project we’ve got going on here.

    So glad you’re on my team on the other side of the planet 🙂 Got your back any time you need it friend.

    Lilly xoxo

  6. Thank you so much for those kind words. It really is only the folk that I find on here that can so easily grasp where I am coming from with any of this struggle.
    Regarding the pull to drink proving the size of the addiction. I was never physically addicted, didn’t quite get there…

    But the craving, then followed by the MASSIVE inner strength I had to find to get the aching for a glass of wine out from the pit of my stomach…that really overwhelmed me and shocked me. That this little glass of cold liquid could have such a mesmerizing hold on me, the urge could still have that power over me…well first I was like, Jesus, I thought that I’d put some distance between me and that pull to drink?
    But the HUGE difference here and now to what it was before, is that returning to my “new” state of sober, balanced, okay with not drinking self, took a matter of hours. That’s all, that’s progress and that’s why it’s never worth throwing this all away.

    To be fair also to the “not drinking” obsession I would say that a WHOLE lot of the time I am just picking up my emotional, mental growth, where I left off when I decided to hit pause on myself all those years ago. Good and bad stuff is being uncovered and even IF I could ever return to normal drinking, like if there was a pill or something. I would still have to find my way out of the place that I have been mentally hiding in. Drinking like a normal person would n’t automatically cancel out all of the issues I spend time now working through.

    Drowning out me, like I used to would take care of that again for sure but now that I have started to get to know the new me, this new life…I am kind of curious/excited to see where it will go? I am not hop/skip/jump happy all of the time about it. But it’s got to be better, it is better.

    I hope this phase passes soon and lighter times are ahead. Hang in there with me xxxx

  7. I can completely relate to you on this one. The first year of my sobriety (first 8 months, give or take) were the hardest for me to want to side with resisting. I make a commitment to being sober in Feb., 2012 and found that summer and my one vacation that year to be the hardest. During the summertime, I’m constantly finding myself at bbqs where there are my two favorite components lingering around; beer and wine. It got to the point where I didn’t go to those places any longer because I would much rather stay home and do some writing or catch up with things that I lost interest in due to my addiction. But then I thought to myself, “Was this the way it was going to be all of the time? Would I really have to surrender to that demon and let him win so that I can’t even enjoy a good burger around friends?” Hell no! Heck, they weren’t the ones who let drinking destroy their lives. I did. So I had to figure out a way to get over this and fast.
    But that is the thing. I got over it, but am I really over it? It feels like it for the time being. I’m going on two years sobriety and it’s gotten a hell of a lot easier. I remember at the end of the summer and my halfway point of being sober, we went on a holiday where there was gambling, drinking, daytime pool parties and more drinking, and everything else that my reckless life once depended on. This was awful! Not because I couldn’t drink, but because I realized that life was meant for a girl who I no longer could relate to. So now I choose my surroundings accordingly.
    Not to say that I don’t know how to have fun, but I do so in a new way; in a me-now kind of day. We are all still learning and discovering who we are with every leap or step through sobriety we take.
    I’m glad you didn’t break on holiday. Hang in there. It gets better, trust me! Thanks for sharing.

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