This weekend I took my first sober vacation. I have been on trips in sobriety, but they have always had a specific purpose – a sports tournament, visiting family, etc. This was the first time I went somewhere with the sole purpose of relaxation and on concrete plans (aside from walking on the beach). Not only was this my first vacation in sobriety, it was my first real vacation in several years and I was looking forward to it.
What I did not expect was the danger of large blocks of unplanned time in a place that wasn’t home. This was great at first – I didn’t have to worry about getting anything done or being on time for anything. It was a freedom I hadn’t experienced in a long time. However, but the end of the first day, the glamour of this began to wear off. I began to get unsettled and jittery about being so far away from home and my support network. What would I do if something happened and I wanted a drink? Where would I go?
I have a tendency to catastrophize things and assume the worst will happen, and this trip was no different. I expected to have issues, and I did (part of me thinks I manifested the feelings, but that’s a topic for another day). The second night of vacation, my friends (who are not in recovery) and I went to a bar where there was live music. We were fortunate enough to grab a table before it got crowded to enjoy the music. About 30 minutes into our time there, I looked around and noticed how everyone was drinking and having a good time. Immediately, I got resentful and felt like I stood out for not having a drink. The thought crossed my mind that having one drink wouldn’t be too bad and I had to remind myself that I am different from most of the people in that bar – I wouldn’t be able to have just one drink and I would end up ruining the progress I made on myself and recovery over the past 18 months.
Thankfully, my recovery program had a significant presence where I was and I was able to go to meetings and share what was going on in my life. The community was supportive and it helped me level set and get in a good headspace for the last leg of the trip.
As an alcoholic, it is important for me to always make sure my recovery and sobriety are at the center of my life. I’ve learned that temptation doesn’t come only in a party scene, but also during times of relaxation. I need to have a plan for reaching out to my support network and getting out if needed no matter where I am. Staying sober, just for today needs to be the primary focus.