I often get asked, “What is it like to go to a sober retreat?”
I have had many sober retreat experiences and I’m happy to share my feedback.
In this blog, I will be reviewing 3 specific retreats: Brave Recovery Coaching, Sober in the City - Zero Proof Experiences, and SheRecovers Annual Conference. These are three very different experiences with different goals, taken at different points on my alcohol free journey.
Spoiler alert, they were all fantastic. TLDR.
My first ever sober retreat was a female hiking retreat in Sedona, AZ hosted by Brave Recovery Coaching. I was an acquaintance of the host, Carrie May, a Certified Recovery Coach and Nurse Practitioner. I had met two other attendees briefly at a previous local event. I didn’t really know anyone and I really didn’t know what to expect. I was very nervous because I wasn’t friends with any of the attendees. I was basically going alone. I ended up flying and driving...
I am in a season of extreme emotions right now.
My oldest daughter is graduating high school in just a few weeks. She will be moving 6 hours away to go to school (MIZ-ZOU!) in early August. I feel like we are still connected via umbilical cord, so as much as I want her to spread her wings and fly…I also want to swaddle her in a blanket and hold her in my arms from now until the end of time.
Saturday was her last prom. I watched her in her gorgeous gown donning fancy hair and flawless make up. I was absolutely stunned by her beauty, maturity, and confidence. I am so proud of the woman she has become. She is better than my wildest dreams. We all know I have too high expectations for everything. Lily is everything and then some.
Since birth she has flipped me upside down and shook me around until I was dizzy. Somehow, in between cleaning up after her, and keeping her safe and fed, she grew into her own being. She is so much more than even I...
I didn’t want to go to yoga yesterday.
I love yoga.
I really do.
And yet, I didn’t want to go.
I know it’s good for me. I always feel better afterwards. I pride myself on being a yogi.
I like to do it at least three times a week. Four, if I can.
Sometimes I do that. Sometimes even more.
Lately, it’s been hard to fit it in with my extra busy work schedule and both my daughters’ full volleyball schedules.
For this season, I have committed to at least once a week.
This has been an achievable goal, until last week when I missed it.
I reserved my spot, but when the time came to go, I told myself my time would be better spent doing more work. I decided to catch up on emails and home administration while sitting on the couch. I talked myself out of yoga. I told myself this was me giving myself a break. This was my way to find the time to accomplish other...
Yesterday I met Mt. Evans of Colorado up close and personal and accomplished a big goal of mine = to climb a 14K mountain.
Climbing a mountain is a big feat.
Climbing a mountain of this elevation is a big feat.
Climbing a mountain at this elevation, as a 46 year old woman from Chicago, was a real challenge.
You know what else is a huge feat and a big challenge?
You guessed it, getting sober.
Throughout my entire climb I was trying to find the metaphors between getting sober and climbing a mountain, but they didn’t come to me, until the day after my climb.
I am first sharing my climbing experience with Mount Evans. Then, I will share the lessons I learned in retrospect. Let's start at the beginning.
I commited to climbing a mountain a year ago, after a hike with a friend in Colorado. We decided to accomplish this goal together and we decided on Mount Evans. We got a parking permit, and put a date on the...
I fell to my knees the morning of February 20th, 2018 and surrendered to my husband.
I was crying, miserable, terrified.
For the first time in my whole life I said the words that seemed impossible to me, “I need help.” He held me and we cried together.
I made a very wobbly decision that I was never going to drink again. I was somehow going to become the kind of person that doesn’t drink and in doing this we both knew our whole life would change. There was no other option. The path of alcohol led to complete destruction of me and our family and I wasn't having it. In order to save my life I would have to be sober for the rest of my life. I was so sad about it. I felt like a failure. Defective. Weak. I was scared. My life was clearly not working for me, but yet I was clinging to what I knew and I didn’t want anything to change.
I was mostly afraid of how this would affect my relationships. I wouldn’t want to...
When I look back on pictures, I can see clearly how alcohol is poison.
The bloat in my face is painful to see.
The bloat was my body's way of trying to protect me from my drinking habits.
As a drinker, it was just another reason for me to hate my ugly self.
I was ignoring myself, in every way.
I did not pay attention.
I numbed out everything that was happening to me, so I could just keep drinking.
I started drinking in my early teens.
I never had a chance to fully develop without it.
I didn’t learn healthy coping skills.
I didn’t know how to regulate my emotions.
Alcohol was always there to soothe me.
I thought it was fun.
I thought it was what made me fun.
I thought other people liked the funny, fun, party girl, who I was, with a drink in my hand.
What do you do on the weekends when you are sober?
Isn’t it boring?
It’s relaxing, productive, and fulfilling.
I had no idea how to spend my time when I first quit drinking.
I was antsy, irritated, and annoyed.
Alcohol had removed my ability to find pleasure in anything but alcohol.
For the first time in a long time, this weekend I had few plans and obligations.
I thought this would be a perfect example of what a “normal” weekend looks like.
Saturday I woke up early and had coffee with my husband,
in our quiet living room, while the kids sleep in.
I welcome the spring sun and the bird song, in the morning these days.
I had gotten in a habit of sleeping in during the dark, winter season.
I prefer an earlier rising, so I am happy to wake up early without an alarm, even on a weekend.
It starts my day off right.
I welcome the day, instead of curse the day, because (Hallelujah!) I am not hungover.
When I first quit drinking I wanted everything in my life to stay exactly the same. The only difference would be that I was no longer drinking. I didn’t want anyone to know if I was drinking or not drinking, and I definitely didn’t want it to be the topic of conversation. I feared my relationships would change, or that others would feel uncomfortable around me. I wanted to go on living my life, only somehow secretly not drinking alcohol.
Now, at 3-years sober, I realize how that was both unrealistic, and not in my best interest.
Looking back it doesn’t surprise me that I had all of these expectations. I had set myself up to live an unliveable life in many ways. I wanted to go unnoticed and keep everyone around me happy at all times. I also never wanted to feel anything. If I started having an intense feeling, I would get disappointed in myself. It was easier to pretend it didn’t exist. Whatever the feeling was, it had to be wrong, and it was my...
It is Saturday morning.
I don’t have to get up.
It is 6:30 and still dark out.
I roll around in bed.
Pet the dog.
Lay and enjoy the slowness of the morning without the rush to get up.
My eyes are wide awake.
My body feels mostly good.
Maybe slightly puffy from the sushi last night, but my head is clear.
I awake with energy and joy.
I decide to get up out of bed and make myself my first cup of coffee.
I am excited for this early morning alone time, because I am at the end of a great book.
I turn on the lamp, grab my blanket, and settle in on the couch.
I finish this 5 star read, as the sun rises.
I treat myself to a Starbucks run for my next cup of coffee.
Today is Halloween.
I have a fun day of holiday baking, crafts, and movies planned with my teenage daughters.
Because of the COVID pandemic, we are not attending our usual costume parties, treat or treating, and other neighborhood activities.
We planned our own Halloween agenda weeks ago.
Living alcohol free is absolutely magical, but it doesn’t feel that way at first.
When I first quit drinking, I had a lot of fears.
MostlyI feared that life after booze would be boring.
I was terrified that I would lose friends.
The truth is, my early sobriety was pretty boring.
I tucked in bed early on most days.
I avoided many social gatherings.
I immersed myself in books, podcasts, blogs, and education on alcohol.
I didn’t know how to have fun without alcohol.
I only knew how to be a party girl, with a permanent drink in my hand.
I had a big fear of missing out on fun.
My friendships changed too.
Everyone, including my closest friends, were unsure how to support me.
We always drank together.
I was itchy in my new alcohol free costume.
I was becoming a new person.
I was taking off the mask of alcohol in my 40’s.
I had worn this cover up since my teen years.
I didn’t know the alcohol...