I have just returned from a short break away with my daughter. We had a super time but I can’t lie. My health really did throw up some challenges. I have written before about my condition Ehlers Danlos Syndrome here: https://newly-sober.com/2021/10/28/ehlers-fcking-danlos/ .
This is my first break where I have been away with someone (who isn’t my husband)and there have just been the two of us. It honestly didn’t cross my mind that this would bring up new realisations about my drinking but it really has!
We were hoping for a few days of chilling in the sun. We knew that it wasn’t going to be boiling hot but we figured if we wrapped up enough then we could still lie out in the sun and relax. Sadly, the weather gods had a different idea and the weather was wet and rather chilly.
This meant that we had to have a plan b. We were in Palma which is a beautiful city, it has lots of wonderful restaurants and so much culture and exciting places to visit. We did enjoy looking around, but oh my did I find it tough. The walking and standing triggered my pain and this then triggers exhaustion.
Then comes the inevitable guilt that I can’t do what my daughter and I wanted to do as it was just too hard. I honestly hadn’t realised how much my husband had shielded us all from this. Normally, he would let me rest and take the kids off. We would all then get what we needed from our holidays with no one feeling stressed or feeling like they had missed out.
And so the guilty led me to do so much more than I should have done (absolutely not what I was taught to do in my pain rehab hospital stay). I was tired, sore and irritable. This could have been a perfect storm to drink again.
This led to a realisation that I hadn’t had before. Sometimes I would drink to counteract all of this. There have been times when I have drunk purely to cope with pain and exhaustion. In the past, I definitely would have drank through this. I would have drank to dull the pain and drunk to wake myself up from the exhaustion.
So what do I do now? I was surprised at how little I wanted to drink. In the past when I have been away and I have seen people with their big glasses of white wine or fizz, I have felt pangs of jealousy and wished I could join them. Not this time though. I felt sick at the thought of alcohol. I did not want to feel hungover on top of the pain and tiredness that I already felt. Instead, I had to come up with a new plan.
I know, I know, we all go on about this in recovery but it is a must. We have to give ourselves permission to say no and permission to look after ourselves. And so I did. I told my daughter that although I wanted to do lots of things, I would have to pace myself. I felt terrible doing so, but it was a must. I explained to her that if I pushed myself too hard it eventually would come back to bite us both.
Instead of walking miles, one day we visited a spa. We also used taxis much more than we would normally. It wasn’t easy and we did have a few spats where I became sharp because I was tired and hurting physically. But most importantly, I did it all sober. Not one drop touched my lips. That coping mechanism has long gone and new ones have been found.
We have concluded that city breaks with just two of us are now a no-go. It isn’t fair on either party. I am not sure I would have come to this conclusion whilst drinking. I probably would have forced myself to walk and do too much, drink my way through it and then do even more the next day because I felt guilty for drinking the night before. Then eventually have a complete meltdown because it was all too much.
It’s funny, recently I had thought that I didn’t have much more to learn on my recovery journey but this has shown me that it is an ongoing process that I doubt I will ever graduate from. I don’t mind being the eternal student in this. I just don’t ever want to be back at the start again.