It’s an annual trip that started 4 years ago: myself, my mother, my sister and her teenage son camp immediately following Christmas. Don’t get the wrong idea – we’re not roughing it! Although there were brave souls in tents, we rent a one-room cabin for 3 nights in a nearby provincial park. And it’s wonderful.
This was the first year that I didn’t smuggle booze in my luggage. This was also the first year that I was sober doing all of the planning and prepping before the trip. The end result? We all agreed that this year was the best of the winter camping trips yet. There is no doubt in my mind that it’s because I’m sober. It made me a better participant throughout the trip.
One beautiful mild afternoon we went cross-country skiing. We last did this 3 years ago. The 2 excursions could not have been more different! Last time, I wasn’t drunk, but my motor skills were definitely impaired. I had a terrible time locking my boots onto the skis and I needed help getting up from a couple of falls.
This time around, it was me who helped my nephew get his skis on, and I had no trouble getting up from falls. (Yes, I fell almost as many times sober as I did buzzed – I’m not proud of that little truth!).
Worst of all last time, my sister gently confronted me about drinking, tell me that she knew I had been. I am deeply embarrassed to admit that my reaction was to deny. How utterly ridiculous: my breath smelled like vodka and I needed help getting upright. I can only imagine how my drinking affected the trip for her that year. Although we didn’t speak of it again and we politely went about the rest of the trip, I’m certain she worried in silence for the remainder of the getaway (and beyond, no doubt).
This year, that cloud of worry and suspicion was nowhere near us. This is how I am making it up to my family for the years of worry I’ve caused: by being a better participant in all of their lives. By being more present (not just physically) in everyday life, I can slowly lift away that piece of worry. So much of my recovery work during these past 9 months has been about me. The new year is a good time to shift some of that focus to my family and making nonverbal amends.
We have another camping trip booked in 5 months. I can’t wait!