I fell off the wagon during my Florida vacation after almost three years of sobriety.
At a place called “The Wreck Bar,” no less. During a mermaid show.
And then I was interviewed by a pirate. With a news crew.
But nothing tragic happened. In fact, I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit I had a darned good time.
I was never “a wreck” during vacation. But I’m climbing right back on the wagon anyway.
Nothing terrible happened, but drinks Friday turned into drinks Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I had fun all three nights, but as it goes with us alcoholics, I progressively drank more each night. By Tuesday morning, it was obvious what was happening, as I had a hangover for the first time in almost three years.
My therapist had suggested I attend meetings while here. I’m not a huge fan of AA. They are a PTSD trigger for me (long story), so, in fact, I avoid them completely while at home. I did reach out to another person in recovery as soon as I got here, and had hoped to set up a time to attend an AA meeting with her, but I never heard back.
The morning after landing, I got up to go to breakfast downstairs in the hotel. The main restaurant is not open yet (the hotel has just been remodeled) and the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team had the smaller restaurant, in the lobby, exclusively to themselves the whole week.
So, that left the rest of us in the “Wreck Bar” for every meal unless we ate outside at the beach grill, and that closed every night at sundown, and did not open until 11 a.m. each day.
I knew I would have an urge for a beer, especially on vacation, in an oceanfront resort in Fort Lauderdale. I figured if the urge just got to be too much, I would have an O’Doul’s, although even those do contain tiny amounts of alcohol, despite the belief that they do not.
No O’Doul’s at the Wreck Bar.
Interviewed by a pirate – with a television crew — during the mermaid show
While live-broadcasting the world-famous mermaid show at the Wreck Bar on my Facebook page, I was having a grand time with the other guests. What the hell I thought, I’ll have a beer.
I mean, it’s a mermaid show. At the world-famous Wreck Bar.
But it gets better. Suddenly, a “news crew” approached me after the show ended. The next thing I knew I was being interviewed – by a man dressed as a pirate – about my opinion of the mermaids.
It probably was obvious that I had had a few. So, I’m not even going to mention what “news” organization it was.
I could have just not told anyone I fell off the wagon after almost three years. But why would I conceal it? It’s a big part of the recovery experience. It happens. A lot. It’s rather incredible I went almost three years.
Writing about these issues is my livelihood (which is why some suggested I not say anything about it).
But that’s not how I roll. I believe in honesty and authenticity. If anything, maybe some people will find me easier to relate to now that I had a “relapse.”
I once had a colleague who had a gambling problem. So much so she trespassed herself from all the local casinos.
When she relapsed, she wrote about it. It was one of the best columns she ever has written, in my opinion.
I don’t always see eye to eye with this person. So, in a way, falling off the wagon, for me, was sort of a reminder that all of us have shared experiences in life. It’s important to be authentic and to own your sh*t.
And to be kind. For it sounds cliché, but everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
Life really is just too short. The world is not going to end because I “relapsed” on my Florida vacation, and it does not make me weak or a bad person. I’m not “going to die,” as some like to tell people who relapse, particularly if their form of recovery doesn’t jive with theirs.
Recovery is a personal journey. There is no one way for staying sober.
I wish I had not drank. Especially four nights in a row, even on vacation.
But I’m owning it. I know I’m an alcoholic. And I love myself way too much to slide back down that slope.
Uber snafu takes me to Laundromat instead of SMART Recovery meeting
Tonight, I tried to go to a SMART Recovery meeting. I had my first experience with Uber. It was a cluster, and I didn’t make the meeting. I ended up at a coin laundry instead. You can read all about that by clicking here.
The second Uber driver took me back to my hotel after the first driver took me to the right address, but in the wrong city. I was visibly upset about the snafu, though not necessarily with Uber. The driver explained how getting frustrated and upset over something I could not control would only upset me some more and cause me to drink even more.
That’s exactly right. Smart man.
So, when I got back to the hotel, I spoiled myself with snapper, went upstairs and gave thanks for this beautiful vacation, and went to bed. Sober. At 8 p.m. Much as I have done every night in the Quad-Cities beginning two and a half years ago.
Many people have not been able to relate to how I’ve maintained sobriety with what appeared to be relative ease.
Now I know it’s not as easy as it looks, and just how slippery the slope can be.
With that said, I’m even grateful for my “relapse” (hate, hate, hate that word). There’s nothing wrong with a wake-up call that could have ended up much, much worse than a hangover after four fun nights. But if I don’t stop now, my luck could run out.
I’m SMART enough to know that.