Well, I'm back from my week at a friend's cottage, and I'm still sober. Victory!
I'm not going to lie, there were some really tough, really challenging moments during the week. Camping and cottaging are big-time triggers for me, I guess. I think it's because when I was drinking, these type of vacations were when I would give myself absolute permission to let loose: start with alcohol-infused coffee in the morning, maybe mimosas or a pre-lunch beer, and work my way up to the hard stuff for the campfire bits...and do this the whole week.
It started even before I left. While I was shopping for snacks for the trip up, I found myself tempted by the no/low-alcohol beer section in the store. That was a warning sign. I'm not sure if drinking fake beer would trigger my addiction responses or not, but I'm not eager to test my mettle. Testing myself is a really good way to earn a relapse. What if I try a cold fake beer and find out that I really, really miss the real thing?
At the cottage, it was really hard the first morning to watch everyone share my partner's Bailey's. My boyfriend even got himself drunk before 11am. I found myself missing that devil-may-care attitude. Later, when we went for a supply run to the nearby town, I found myself in the liquor store, surrounded by so much booze. Still, I stayed strong.
The parts where I was tempted were really difficult, and I did find myself wondering if it was always going to be that hard. And, maybe it will be, but I stayed sober anyway. And there were moments that week where it was really, really good that I did.
One night, we were playing boardgames and my partner, who was a bit tipsy, lost his temper and snapped at me. It happens. But in the moment, when I was about to lose my temper back at him, I was able to pull back. I had a moment where I was able to see past how angry and hurt I was and instead of hurting him back by saying something vicious and quitting the game, causing a scene in front of all of our friends, I just gave myself some time to just collect myself and less than 5 minutes later, everyone was back to having fun (and I won that game, too). That could not have happened if I'd been drinking. Being sober gave me a chance to reflect on my feelings, and I was able to bring it up with my boyfriend later when we were both calm, and we talked through it. Maybe that's what life is like for everyone most of the time, but I really felt like a superhero in that moment.
On the last day, getting a drive back into town to catch our bus, I suddenly remembered the year before, and how grumpy I'd been on the whole ride home, mostly because I was hungover and had gone on a ridiculous bender the night before. This time, there was no guilt, no shame, no physical or psychological sickness.
When I started my sober thing 11 months ago, I knew this trip to the cottage would be a challenge. I was afraid of it. I'm really, really glad to have it behind me, and to know that I succeeded. It`s one more milestone on this new path. I've got other challenges ahead of me (and leave it to byebyebeer to post about relapse warning signs, just in the nick of time), but right now I've earned myself a pat on the back.