WE CAN SOBER VACATION

I’m back from Cape Cod. I am EXHAUSTED. So I’m going to post but I refuse to take responsibility for typos and grammar shit so if misuse of commas makes you crazy, it’s probably best of you close your browser now and call Michelle, your therapist. Tell her I say HEY.

I think back to all of the various trips I’ve taken in the past and I can’t come up with one memory of me returning home feeling rested and renewed. There is so much stress that comes along with traveling and I have a really hard time letting go of it. Stupid stuff like WHAT IF THE CAR RENTAL PLACE DOESN’T LET ME HAVE A CAR AND TELLS ME TO GO FUCK MYSELF?! or WHAT IF THE TSA FINDS TONS OF GUNS AND HEROIN IN MY CARRY ON BAG WHEN I GO THROUGH SECURITY!?!?!

It probably doesn’t help that I tend to not be able to sleep the night before leaving for a trip so I start off exhausted and then that exhaustion breeds more exhaustion and each day gets progressively more and more exhausting until I’m delusional and listening to Garth Brooks on the way to Provincetown, waxing poetically about the glory days of 90’s country music. That happened. And I loved it.

So. We woke up Saturday morning EXHAUSTED from packing shit into a suitcase the night before. Then we paid a car service to come and pick us up to drive us to the place where we would pay for another car to drive from New York City to Cape Cod. Once behind the wheel of a vehicle after taking public transportation for so long, you really begin to wish you had your own car again. For those that don’t live in a large metropolitan area where owning a car makes absolutely no sense, you basically end up existing in a bubble and take trains and busses only to places that are within close proximity to your house. It’s a blissful dream for an alcoholic because you don’t have to worry about DUI’s or getting behind the wheel of a car. You can get anywhere and everywhere with a Metrocard. Suddenly having the freedom to fly down the road and stop where you want is absolutely INCREDIBLE. You suddenly want to go EVERYWHERE. You see a TJ Maxx off the highway and say something stupid like OMG TJ MAXX! I NEED UNDERWEAR AND SLIGHTLY IMPERFECT PANTYHOSE and then veer off at the next exit grinning from ear to ear.

Traffic was horrible. It took us 8 hours when it should have only taken 4. My little puppy dog got car sick and started yakking all over the place but then calmed down about halfway there. We got to the house earlier than our friends and waited for them to arrive. Once they did, we spent some time visiting and unpacking and settling in before leaving for dinner.

On the way to the restaurant, boyfriend told me that while I was in the bedroom getting situated, one of the friends had asked him about drinking again and wanted to make sure that I was comfortable if they were to have a glass of wine at dinner, etc. The drinking thing was already addressed weeks before the trip happened so I was a bit surprised that it was brought up again. Always having my back, the boyfriend assured me that he wasn’t trying to cause drama but thought it was important that I know that there was apparently still some apprehension on their part about what I was and wasn’t comfortable with. So as soon as we sat down at the table, I immediately brought it up with the intent of getting it out of the way as soon as possible so it didn’t become a thing. I told them that they are free to do as they please and that I’m totally fine. Dinner proceeded as planned and nothing was awkward about it. Nobody drank but I didn’t really expect them to since they had their two young children with them and were driving. I figured they would kick back with a cocktail later that night once we all got back to the rental house.

We went miniature golfing after dinner. The six year old girl was a major cheater! I tease. But seriously. She was such a cheater. After golfing, it was off to eat hot fudge sundaes. Then back to the house for the night. I braced myself and was prepared to have my seltzer water while they got buzzed at home. I was confident that I’d be able to hold my own and enjoy my friends regardless of what they were doing in terms of beverages. I was totally ready. And then something funny happened: No one drank.

In fact, no one drank the entire time we were there. The rest of the trip marched on by. We took the dog to the beach. We went to Provincetown and did some shopping. We ate out several times. And we hung out at the house together. But somehow, no one swung by the liquor store. No one cracked open a beer. No one had ANYTHING. And it sort of pissed me off. I’m not going to lie. It made me self-conscious. It made me feel like there was some sort of spotlight on me and my sobriety. And it made me feel guilty and worried that I was causing other people to hold back and not enjoy their time the way they wanted to.

I don’t know if any of that is true. It probably isn’t. The other couple was staying on for five more days once we left so maybe they figured there was plenty of time for drinks. When I look at the schedules we kept, drinking didn’t really seem to fit in anyway. We were out and about a lot with the children and the dog. We got home late and everyone seemed ready for bed at fairly early hours. It would be very easy for me to just chalk it all up to the fact that they are just normies. They don’t need it or think about it or obsess over it. But I couldn’t help but think to myself that if it were me on vacation and I wasn’t an alcoholic, I would be drinking CONSTANTLY. But that’s the problem. And it’s not one that they seem to have.

I think for my own edification and to help me understand this a little better, I’d love to be able to ask them at some point down the road exactly what they were thinking, if anything, while we were there. I have no idea how my openness about my recovery impacts other people. I suppose time will tell and we shall see if similar invites come up.

They were absolutely wonderful, though. They didn’t seem the least bit put off or annoyed. And I’d really like to think that it just was a complete non-issue. But there is a small part of me that worries that I was being patronized at the expense of their own enjoyment and that there were stifled feelings of resentment that maybe I couldn’t sense. Then again, isn’t that just being thoughtful and considerate of your friends and their needs? Maybe that’s what they were doing?

I think the best thing to do at this point is to just accept the trip for what it was: A good time with good friends that left me exhausted. There is no need for me to strain myself trying to get inside the heads of others because even if I could, I have no control or power over their feelings or thoughts.

The trip also made me realize how important structure and schedule and routine are to me at this point in my recovery. My head does weird things when there is that much free time. I absolutely have no regrets but it was much more emotionally and mentally draining than I thought it was going to be and I think I’ll wait a while longer before I take another.

Lastly, I want to mention this restaurant I went to called Not Your Average Joes. They had a ZERO PROOF drink menu that was a collection of specialty, fancy non-alcoholic mocktails. It was so fucking awesome to have options other than Diet Coke, iced tea, and water. Look!

 photo

22 comments

  1. so glad you had a great time….
    and it’s hard to remember to stay out of other people’s head, so yeah, do that!
    they are grown-ups and can make their own decisions, probably had nothing to do with you at all.
    and god! there is such freedom in realizing the world doesn’t revolve around you, isn’t there?

  2. I agree with lady bug. When I went to Vegas the drinking by all dramatically decreased. I beer for the boys.
    1 lemon drop martini for the girl. (Not me). Saved a lot of Mula too! Glad u had a good time. And you were there for your puppy’s first trip. How fun!
    Irishgirl

  3. John,

    I don’t know how to describe it.. you hit the nail on the head Every God Damn Time You Post! It’s like you’re reading my thoughts (and for that I’m sorry 🙂 You’re such a gifted writer and storyteller. I mean,the fact that you took that amount of time and energy to create something that substantial, despite your exhaustion, (I totally overuse commas-lol) is truly a testament to your dedication to us and your own recovery. I’m a wannabe writer, but honestly, you’re like a New York, not bald.. Augusten Burroughs and I have no reason to blow smoke (I quit years ago).

    I look forward to your posts and I have to say that this weekend was rather disappointing (no guilt–directly implied) without having a post to read. Did I mention that along with commas, I overuse (parentheses) and (picture the fingers) “Air Quotes”

    Seriously, you make me laugh, reflect and relate.. Every God Damn Time You Post! I’m glad you had a good weekend, I’m sorry you got burnt (I mean Sunblock Much? J/K) and your pooch is soooo sweet. I have a Brussels Griffin named Chancellor and he’s my heart.. those little dogs are loyal and true, I don’t care what the “Big Dog” people say.
    And I’m glad your back, keep it up, you have so many supporters and friends.

    P.S. I’ve dealt with those people who don’t drink in my presence and are so annoyingly cavalier about being sober, and you know what? I’ve found that the self consciousness I feel, is my alcoholic brain looking to pick a fight and be riled up enough to “show them” and maybe, just maybe…….. take a drink???……Um….. PLEASE!?
    Those people, despite my twisted thinking, are not drunks, are not concerned about drinks or maybe honestly,, not thinking about it one way or another…and ya know what? If they wanted to drink, they would and if they restricted themselves because you were there it’s because .. they’re not DRUNKS so it wasn’t as big of a deal as it would have been to us. Essentially, they care enough to care be cognizant of the fact one way or another.

    So anyway that was a long PS, Christ.. writings is hard work!!!

    Be Well,
    Keith

    1. Thanks, Keith! It makes me feel really good that my crazy ramblings have a positive influence on others. So cool that these posts that are mainly intended to help me externalize what I’m going through end up helping others at the same time. Just looked up Chancello’s breed and OMG. SO CUTE! Talk soon and thanks for the lovely comment.

    1. Sorry don’t know what that was about?? Maybe like shooting off a blank when texting or pocket dialing. Anyway have a good sober day everybody 😄

  4. That drink menu is AMAZING !!! You sound like an over-thinker just like me! I would’ve been thinking the same thing about my friends. I’m on day 129 and I’ve realized that normies just don’t think like us. There is no way I would’ve EVER been on a vacation without drinking so it is so hard to realize not everyone is as obsessed with alcohol! Had a 2 girlfriends over about a month ago and they shared ONE bottle of wine over SIX hours! What?!

  5. Such a memorable vacation! Packing exhaustion, driving exhaustion, caring friends, busy schedule, shopping, beach, beach with dog, 6 year old who needs further guidance on getting away with cheating at miniature golf, and hot fudge sundaes. I can’t see one darned missing element of a marvelous trip.

  6. Great post my friend! Totally exhausted from working, but I do recall being “overly obsessed” with everyone else’s drinking OR non-drinking at the early onset…that goes away, but I still take great pleasure in watching someone get drunk…I dunno why..it makes me feel really grateful that I don’t have to be THAT person anymore and somewhat proud that I don’t want to! Congrats on your first sober vacation! Mine was a bit unnerving as I had gone on a cruise & EVERYONE drinks on a cruise except the captain! 🙂

    1. OMG Patti. Back when I was sober for three years before my relapse, I went on a cruise and remember how sad I got walking around realizing everyone was drunk. I lived in the ship’s gym and would work out for 3 hours just so I felt justified in going and living in the buffet area for 3 hours and eating everything. Probably wasn’t the wisest trip I could have planned. Haha.

  7. I’m so glad you had a good time. Sorry, the pup got car sick. 😦

    I live in a beach town, drinking opportunities as far as the eyes can see in the summer. I’ve been around drinkers, normal and not so normal the whole 83 days I’ve been sober. I will say that I definitely became more aware of their drinking habits than I ever did when I was drinking. Of course, that’s because I was much more concerned about my drinks, who gives a shit about theirs. 🙂 Anyway, I thought it would really bother me, being in social settings with drinkers while I was sipping sparkling water. Surprisingly it didn’t.

    But reading your post, I thought, wow, it would really pissed me off if folks didn’t drink on my account. For some, I would know it was on purpose, to show me support or something, b/c they drink a lot. Others not so much – they could take it or leave it. The thought, though, of them restraining themselves for me, well, that would be messed up.

    Weird huh? I’m more comfortable being around drinkers than the thought of having drinkers not drink on my account. I get where you’re coming from on this one completely. I also agree that these types of things can be emotionally draining. I’m a kid at this sobriety thing, 83 days in so I’m very cautious about my feelings and putting myself in situations I don’t want to be in. But it sounds like you made the best of it, had a good time and best of all, stayed sober.

    1. After having a few days to put things into perspective, I’m starting to think that maybe no one was really thinking about it too much. Like I mentioned, the situations we were in didn’t ever really lend themselves to drinking so maybe it just wasn’t an issue?

      Congrats on 83 days! Yes, you are right. Better to not get ourselves into situations that can jeopardize our sobriety. But I will say that every time I end up doing something that makes me slightly uncomfortable, I come out the other end feeling like I can handle more than I could before going in. The trick is to bite off only as much as you can chew and not a morsel more. Difficult to know how much is too much and how much is just right. But I’m getting better at it.

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