The Florida Plan

In the span of 11 months, there have been a lot of “sober firsts.” The first sober rock concert, first sober Christmas, first sober wedding, and so on. Next week will be my first sober vacation. To be clear, I’ve had to be sober on past vacations because my drinking during the final 5 years was done in secrecy and secret drinking is not easy on vacation! Picture a week in Las Vegas spent this way… not easy.

This will be, however, my first vacation while in sobriety. My folks migrate to Florida for a couple of the worst of the winter months each year. For me: it’s a cheap vacation for a week, whenever I can swing it.

My sober foundation is solid, which means I’m not going into this vacation with anxiety. That said, there will be booze everywhere. My parents stay in a condo community with 8 other couples composed of family and friends, and these snowbirds drink a lot. Every pool visit, baseball game, dinner and evening get-together puts booze front and centre. 

So I have a Florida Plan. It’s part journaling, part texting my sponsor, part reflection and a whole lot of being willing to change my environment if I get uncomfortable. When my aunt panics because her grandchild quickly grabs a bottle of water and it might be the one  filled with vodka, I may just need to take a swim. Or when the 4th well-meaning-but-still-a-little-creepy-60-something-year-old-man offers me a drink, coaxing with “come on, you’re on vacation!”, I may just have to decline and join a different conversation.

Overall, I’m simply looking forward to a week in the sun. I’m looking forward to reflecting at the end of week and feeling proud and content for staying in the moment and enjoying every day.

sunshine

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Day 333: Recovery and Reflections

It’s easy to miss when you’re living the cumulative transformation, but when I really look at it, my life is monumentally different today compared to 1 year ago. Yes, there are physical changes that are noticeable to the outside world, but the most significant changes are on the inside. 

One year ago I was desperate to quit drinking, but I was as equally desperate to do it without anyone knowing what I was going through. I was scared, embarrassed and sick.

Fast forward to 3 o’clock this morning. I was driving myself and a friend home from an out-of-town bar. Wait, it’s not that kind of story; our hubbies are in a band that played lastnight. The 2 of us left early while the band packed up their gear.

During our 30 minute drive, my friend (whom I’ve known for only 8 months) told me a little about her previous 10-year relationship with an alcoholic that broke her heart. She also shared that she recently started thinking that she was drinking too much and quickly changed her habits to curtail the drinking. This friend (like most people in my life) had no previous knowledge of my alcoholism. She didn’t know me as a drinker.

“I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m an alcoholic,” I told her. I confirmed for her that no one can “fix” an alcoholic like her ex, no matter how much you love them. We then had an amazing, albeit brief, conversation about addiction and how devastating it can be.

After I dropped her off at home, I took note of how calm I felt. I had no anxiety prior to, during or after telling her I’m an alcoholic. This was the first time I’ve used that big scary word with a friend and I am completely at peace. This is not a conversation I would have  considered having one year ago.

Secrets make us sick. Having more and more people know my secret makes it harder to relapse. I’m slowly building an army of people who would instantly know I’m in trouble if I started drinking. In growing my army, I’m reducing the space that I can hide in.

And that’s how I’ll confidently get through day 333.

Letting in the Sunshine

I carved out this little corner in the blogging world out of a need to stay sober. I drank alcoholically for close to 2 decades, with the last 5 years spent in secrecy. To get sober, I needed to break the secrecy and bring my alcoholism into the light. However, I was not ready to do that with my friends and family.

So I brought my secrets and my darkness to these pages and found a whole new family to be open and honest with. I have been sober for 333 days and that is in great part because of what this sober blogging family does for each other. The support from others who struggle with this disease has been an amazingly unexpected gift.

I am beyond thrilled to find out that my posts have spoken to others. Thank you to Chenoa at Life Corked and Debbie at Dangling on the Edge for nominating me for a Sunshine Award. Both of these ladies provide me with inspiration through their honesty and openness and it’s humbling to think that I have done the same for them. I thank you both very much.

sunshine-award

To accept the award, the awardee must do the following:

  • Display the award on your blog.
  • Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Present 10 deserving bloggers “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”
  • Link to the awardees and let them know of the nomination.
  • List 10 interesting things about yourself.

10 interesting things about Mental Rollercoaster:

  1. I don’t feel weird referring to myself in the third person (or by my pseudonym).
  2. My elbows are double-jointed, although the left one doesn’t look as strange as the right because of a baseball injury. I was a catcher, and a batter once connected with my elbow instead of the ball. Oddly enough this resulted in a more normal-looking elbow.
  3. I grew up in a house across the street from, as well as beside, 2 very large cemeteries. Because of this, I find cemeteries to be the most peaceful and interesting places to walk and relax.
  4. I am a crazy Prince fan.
  5. When I was 12 years old, I wanted to be a VJ when I grew up. MuchMusic was brand new (we didn’t get MTV in Canada at that time) and I adored Erica Ehm.
  6. At 27 years old, I was the youngest restaurant owner in my city. That story doesn’t end well, but for a brief moment in time, it was pretty darn interesting.
  7. My husband and I are legally married in the Dominican Republic, but not in Canada, where we live.
  8. I get emotional watching people win on game shows. Their excitement touches me.
  9. I gag at the mere thought of touching a wooden spoon. Touching a wooden spoon causes my whole body to shiver. I was a chef for 10 years and avoided them like the plague.
  10. I love concerts and have been fortunate to see some amazing acts: Prince (of course!), Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, Cher, John Cougar Mellancamp, Pat Benetar, Cyndi Lauper, Tori Amos, The Black Crowes, and on and on….

10 deserving bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others:

The first 2 who continually inspire me are Life Corked and Dangling on the Edge, who brought the Sunshine into my corner of the blogging world. Another 8 who are as equally inspiring:

  1. FitFatFood – Blogging to Stay Sober
  2. Carrie On Sober – A blog to help keep me on the right track…
  3. Drunky Drunk Girl – A blog about getting sober
  4. One Too Many – I’ve spent a lifetime self-medicating. It’s time to try something new.
  5. NoWine4Me – my journey to sobriety
  6. emotionaldrinking – healing from the inside
  7. Searching and Fearless – life’s mysteries revealed in recovery
  8. soberjessie – getting sober to be a better mother, wife and friend