Everything I loved most in the world was at that table: my hubby, the Cubbies (symbolically, at least), tequila…and freedom.
We were about to fly from snowy Philadelphia to sunny Phoenix for a weeklong Spring Training vacation in Mesa, and although we were sitting in a cramped corner of a nondescript airport bar, the promise of fulfilling a lifelong dream, plus the blissful buzz of those first few drinks, made that moment feel like paradise. ☀️🧢😎
Oh my God, those moments when you’re right smack dab in the sweet spot between reality and intoxication, when all seems right with the world and your place in it! I still grieve for those moments.
Sometimes, I wonder if I always will.
I was overcome with grief when the above picture popped up on my phone screen Saturday morning, as I sat in my therapist’s office waiting for my appointment to start. Facebook memories nearly always trigger an emotional reaction, and it makes sense, because pretty much anything I posted prior to my sobriety date — July 7, 2019, not even 2 years ago — involved alcohol. A.K.A., my ex-best friend.
The memories aren’t all bad.
But that dreamy Mesa getaway is a perfect example of how alcoholism affected my life. Though I experienced plenty of those perfect moments — I’m smiling right now, remembering walking from our hotel to Sloan Park, warm sun baking down on us, one hand in my husband’s and the other clutching a huge gas station soda cup filled with Cuervo and seltzer — they never did last. They were just the boarding point for a runaway train that ultimately derailed, my demons driving it off into a ditch or maybe off a bridge, every single time.
I spent the bulk of our Cubs Spring Training trip bloated, hung over and completely de-motivated, to the point my husband basically had to force me out of bed on our final day to go sightseeing via ATV in Sedona. It was cold and muddy out on the trails, and I distinctly remember bumping along in our rented four-wheeler, head pounding, wanting the excursion to just end so we could stop at a liquor store and replace the bottle I’d drained the day before.
From the heavenly first drink at the Philly airport to the hell of being out in a breathtaking natural area on what could’ve been a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and wanting nothing but to go inside and drink…that’s alcoholism.
And that’s what I have to keep reminding myself when I get hit with unexpected triggers.
I do not want to live a life ruled by addiction.
Yes, part of me still romanticizes the feeling of intoxication and mourns it, because at 20 months sober in socially distant and professionally stressful times, it’s hard to believe that I’ll ever feel that good again.
The other part of me sees, with clear eyes, all the real, substantive good I’ve welcomed into my life since I shut alcohol out.
That part grows a little more dominant every day. The deeper I get into recovery, the more I learn how to be present in every moment, to fully experience the blissful and the painful, to truly be alive.
I’m hoping I get a second chance in this lifetime to fully experience Cubs fan paradise with my real best friend — my hubby, not those overpriced $12 tequila shots in souvenir cups.
If I do, at least I know for sure that the return trip to Mesa will be cheaper…and I will remember it all.