As I reminisce of Mrs W saying if she stayed with me she would never go on holiday with me again, I’m reminded of what a great deal I thought that was at that time – because at least she was going to stay.
We have been together for 18 years and each and every year we have managed to get away, but at least 15 of those occasions were ruined by me and my drinking. I always seemed to go into over-drive when it was holiday time. At first I was able to justify my drinking, after all I was on holiday! But by the end, I was stashing my alcohol and lying about where I had been. I would always go for a 12 o’clock walk, that’s when I would first hit the booze and take the edge off my nerves. I always loved going on holiday, it was the perfect excuse to revisit my little fantasy worlds; Graham the Doctor, Graham the Pilot and so on. I would never tell Mrs W about my many fictional vocations which inevitably ended up with my new-found holiday victims saying something to her. She did always have my back, but only because she was too embarrassed to reveal my nonsense.
I lived in my family’s head 24/7. They were constantly worried about what would happen next. I even stole money on a holiday in Mexico from our own safety deposit box. I swore it wasn’t me to the point where hotel staff and police were called to investigate. I continued to protest my innocence for years later – until I got sober.
It scares me to think of just how may trips I ruined. It’s ironic that my last ever drink was on holiday as it’s also where I had my first – a jug of Sangria in Portugal. I was found lying in a hotel corridor covered in Sangria and carrots by my parents (early alarm bells). Up until 3 years ago our holidays were only ever average at best. However our first holiday in sobriety was in Nissy Bay, Cyprus. I was so determined to show my family and more importantly myself that I was finally changing. I would head down to a quiet spot on the beach and meditate for 20 minutes every morning, it helped massively. I used to laugh at spiritual people who mediated, but it seems I was just jealous of them. To this day I still meditate, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
In my 3 years of sobriety we’ve been on 6 holidays and each one has had an incredible moment of clarity: paragliding, swimming with doplphins, even just waking up in the morning opening the balcony door and breathing in the sea air and…not craving a drink. It was on my first sober holiday I heard a phrase that I have since heard a million times over, “what do you mean you don’t drink?” Holidays are always a dangerous time for me, so much temptation and I really need up my game in terms of the recovery process.
It’s such a nice feeling to go on holiday now relishing an opportunity to spend time with loved ones instead of being out searching for a drinking buddy. I used to find someone to drink with and end up getting them in trouble, if I could get them steaming drunk it give me added incentive to drink myself into oblivion. The only difference was they would do it once and I would do it every single day of the holiday.
I have had some of the most amazing times on recent holidays with Mrs W. Just being an ordinary (well nearly ordinary) couple enjoying each other’s company is such an underrated privilege. Sobriety makes you realize just how good the simple things in life really are. I’ve even learned to appreciate traipsing around the duty free shops and a pre-flight meal instead of rushing straight to the nearest bar to begin ruining another holiday before we’ve even left the ground.
I am on holiday as we speak, writing away – how times change. Before leaving, I celebrated 3 years sobriety by completing the 13 mile Great Scottish Run. Addiction is a dark, dark place, but in recovery you will find one of the most vibrant, colourful things in the world.
Have a great day friends,