Last year Keenan and I went on an anniversary trip to Miami for our fifteenth anniversary. An entire week at the beautiful beach with my beautiful husband. It should have been perfect. But it wasn’t.
For months before, I had been preparing and tapering off of my anxiety medication. When we left for Miami I had been off completely for about two weeks. I was nervous about the timing, but what better place to detox than at the beach??
Detoxing from mind-numbing medication can be difficult and mine was no exception. I was hopeful and at the same time full of self-doubt. Every time I would feel the anxiety returning my mind would scream,”You made the wrong choice!” But I was determined to stay the course, AND determined to have a wonderful vacation.
Some of you also know that after 9 years of sobriety I made a return to alcohol. This time it wasn’t to escape a painful reality, but (I thought) to enhance my wonderful life. I have an amazing husband, three incredible children and I was pursuing my dream of becoming an author. I should celebrate my life with wine!
Well, it turns out that detoxing from anxiety medication while simultaneously adding back alcohol isn’t the best idea. Go figure.
The trip was terrible. Yes, there were moments of good but I was riddled with anxiety and sadness and my stomach hurt. Just about the whole time. I stayed up late. I drank even though it made me feel like crap. I didn’t sleep well and I could barely eat. (which is by the way my favorite thing to do on vacation)
When we came home from Miami, I had lots of gorgeous photos but a sad feeling that the trip had been a waste. What was wrong with me to not be able to enjoy a getaway to the beach with my husband?
A couple of months ago Keenan and I were talking about the trip over dinner and I just started sobbing, “I’m so sorry! That trip sucked and I want to have a re-do!” To my surprise, Keenan admitted it wasn’t a great trip. I had tried to hide it from him, but we’ve been together too long for that to work. He knew. He knew I was struggling and tried to make the best of it for me. And for him too.
It took me months to process what had happened, but I recognized two major “awakenings”:
First of all, I needed to give myself a break. I had just succeeded in coming off my medication! That was HUGE. Second, why in the hell was I bringing back alcohol into my life when I’ve struggled with it in the past AND while I’m trying to reclaim my mental health? Drinking has NEVER enhanced my life in any way. In fact, it almost destroyed it.
I shared my “shitty trip” experience with my very wise Life Coach Vikki. I told her I was pissed off that the trip was “wasted” and how I was determined to have a very different experience next time. I also shared the lessons I had learned: That I needed to be kind to myself through this process of health and well-being AND that alcohol dims my light.
She simply said, “So it was a GREAT shitty trip.” And I understood.
If I hadn’t learned from it, I would repeat it and the next trip would be shitty…and the trip after that. When you learn from something it is never wasted.
I’m looking forward to going back, but not as the same Bonnie…
I will be the brightest version of myself: sober in my surroundings and mindful of the messages. Fully present with my gorgeous husband, and forever grateful for that “great shitty trip”.