When the Dive Bar No Longer Calls Your Name

fun spring break vacation Apr 04, 2022

I had such a serendipitous experience on Spring Break. We stayed in Naples, FL for the first half with family and in Treasure Island, FL just the four of us (meeting our Chicagoland neighbors for dinner one night) for the second half of our stay.


We had a hotel on the beach for the second half and before we arrived, my husband changed it to a place we had stayed before. As we were crossing the magnificent bridge’s into St. Pete’s I was overcome with emotion. We would be staying at the very same place I had my first Sober Spring Break over 4 years ago. I remembered it so clearly. I was about 30 days sober, very wobbly and unsure how I would make it through.


I did not have the strength and confidence that I do today. I was a fragile baby bird. The first day was excruciating. I was jumping out of my skin. Looking back, I can’t believe I made it. I am so proud of myself. That was so freaking hard. You can read about it here: https://www.ditchedthedrink.com/blog/first-vacation-after-quitting-drinking


“Mom, don't cry”, the kids said as we entered Treasure Island. I could not stop myself, the tears had started flowing and it took even me by surprise. I have come so far. I am writing this to reach my hand back to you and pull you along with me, Dear Friend. Stay the course, your future is bright. If this is your first Spring Break, I know it doesn’t feel that way right now. I was fighting the urge every second year ago. I no longer desire to drink. Can you imagine? It is there for you too. I can't tell you how much I am rooting for you right now and for me back then, the terrified, wobbly, newly sober gal I used to be.


On my first Sober Spring Break we passed Ricky T’s, a tiki hut bar with live music, rowdy Spring Breaker parents, and free flowing drinks, every night on our way to get ice cream with the kids. It was like a punch in the gut to see all I was missing in my new sad-ish sober life. A siren call to my old life that I wasn't really sure I wanted to leave for good.


In early sobriety, I liked feeling better, no hangovers, less anxiety, and knowing I was doing the right thing for me and my family, but I missed the escape, the extreme, the turn off of the voice in my head. I didn’t want to live a nun-like life just because I was sober and I didn’t know any other ways to “have fun” besides drinking.


So I marched through that Spring Break by keeping my eyes on the promise I made to myself even when I didn't feel like doing it. I stayed present. I kept my sober routines, yoga, journal, alone time, prayer, frozen mocktails, and literally taking it one breath at a time. I made it. I am not sure if it was the most fun I have ever had, but I didn’t disappoint me or my family. This felt good. I was doing what I "was supposed to be doing" what I knew was "right".  


This year my husband said, we should go to Ricky T’s and see if they have NA beer. He saw it as a comeback moment for me. It was such a sweet idea. I could see it in my mind. Us at the bar smiling, and cheersing,clinking our NA beer bottles, to me making it. To me here, on the flip side, no longer pulled by the incessant scream of alcohol calling me.

We again, walked by this dive bar on our way to get ice cream at night. When the time came for us to go grab a drink, I didn’t want to go. I could hear the classic rock tunes blaring from the band all the way across the street in my hotel room. I was not triggered or nervous about getting closer.  It wasn't that I can’t go to a vacation bar and order an NA drink. I’ve done that a thousand times. It’s that Ricky T’s is no longer my measurement for success. Having a fake beer in a bar with a bunch of boozed up strangers doesn't do it for me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love live music, good alcohol free drinks, and even the taste of beer. It's just that I don't need to go to Ricky T’s dive bar to prove my strength in sobriety. Ricky T's isn't my pillar of making it. In fact, having lost my desire to participate in that kind of environment gives me an even stronger feeling of "making it". I no longer want to go to a place that was calling me. This is more proof of my change than going and not drinking alcohol. It not that I can't be there, it's that I don't even want to be there anymore.

It's not that I can't drink, it's that I no longer want to drink.


I had a basil infused, lemon, lime drink and live music with my oysters the night before. I had a nojito/mojito at the largest Spanish restaurant in the world with a stick of real sugar cane in it. I had an ice cold can of Samuel Adams, Just the Haze non alcoholic brew at the beach. I had an entire bottle of Fre Champagne at the pool. I had an alcohol free rosé at Hampton Social.

Despite all these great drinks, I had so many more experiences that had nothing to do with drinking. In fact, if I was still drinking alcohol none of these experiences would have happened. 


I had a sunset kayak cruise with my 13 year old daughter, 7 year old nephew and my sister in law in Rookery Bay. We made memories that will last a lifetime.

I took a walk on the wild side through the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary with my nephew and 4 year old niece. I saw a very rare and extinct orchid through the lens of a real photographer.

I had an entire ritzy spa day with a friend from elementary school, my wedding singer. We connected authentically and showed up whole for each other instead of wasting our time getting buzzed and distracted. I was not detoxing from alcohol the night before. I was not hot and shaky. I was not filled with self hatred chatter from my own inner critic. I was there with her taking in the moment. 

When I heard an old song that I like while shopping, I started dancing enthusiastically with happiness and joy like an obnoxious idiot. My teenage daughters didn’t not hide their heads in shame, but instead joined me and upped the dancing to a new level instead. How proud could I be about the kind of people I am raising? The song was Hungry Eyes from Dirty Dancing, if you must know. Fun is a top value of mine and I don't need to be drunk to have it. I have it first thing in the morning and in. the middle of a boutique or outlet mall if the mood strikes. I love modeling this for my kids too. 


So for you, My Friend fighting your first break sober wondering if it will ever get better or if you whole life is just going to suck now. It’s not. It’s not going to suck forever. It’s going to get so much better and you won’t need alcohol for any of it. You will be wild, fun, and free. You might not even want the things you thought you wanted. Ricky T’s might not be the place for you anymore and you’ll be so glad to fill your life with other things. 


Reach out if I can help, free complimentary call: https://calendly.com/hello-dtd/30min


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