Sober Vacations

Well, I’m back in harness (boy, am I ever!) after a wonderful vacation.  My wife, 9-year-old granddaughter and I flew out to Denver to visit with number-one daughter and her husband, and do some tourist stuff.  I’d never been to that part of the country, and Michele hadn’t been there for about 40 years.  We did the Pike’s Peak thing, Garden of the Gods, visited with wolves and bison, toured the Nebraska sandhills, saw old friends, and Shel found the house in Colorado Springs where she lived as a young hippie.  She had to fly back early because of commitments to her therapy groups, but Selina and I stayed another week.  We all had a wonderful visit, and hated to see it end.

It was the first real vacation we’ve had since we got sober.  We’re most thankful to the combination of people and events that made it possible.  Previous vacation destinations had been dictated by the health of elderly relatives and so forth, and this was our first chance to really bust loose and do it for ourselves.

I can’t help but contrast this trip with those we made during our active addictions.  Those were mostly built around the availability of alcohol and other drugs, and usually involved plans that allowed a lot of time for eating and drinking in large quantities.  We chose vacation sites like the Florida Keys, where boozing it up is a way of life and we fit in perfectly.  When we went elsewhere, there was always a question of where and how we could continue to feed the monkeys on our backs.

Colorado Springs from the top of Pike’s Peak – 14,410′ above sea level

I remember quite clearly one desperate evening in South Carolina, when we discovered blue laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays.  As I recall we got through the drought with pills, but that part’s mighty vague.  Then there was the trip down the St. John’s River in a houseboat, which should have been an idyllic three days but was turned by alcohol and drugs into a miserable experience that still makes us both cringe 25 years later.  I won’t even go into the many ways our addictions must have affected the experiences of our kids on those drunken expeditions.

So this trip was, in addition to being a lot of fun with loved ones, a testament to the power of no longer being powerless, of living lives that are no longer unmanageable.  We didn’t embarrass ourselves or anyone else.  We have photographs and memories.  We look back on the past two weeks with clear heads, and forward to the possibility of doing something similar again.  We arrived back in Florida feeling renewed, not abused.

Damn, it’s great to be clean and sober!

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