“Life is so subtle that sometimes you barely notice yourself walking through the doors you once prayed would open.” -Unknown
I don’t have a lot of time today since I’m preparing for a camping trip this weekend. I have a million and one little errands to get done, but I’ve been thinking about something today and I want to take some time to express it. Sidenote: I’m realizing that every post I make doesn’t have to be some perfectly-constructed, monumental breakthrough (recovering perfectionist here!). The little, not-so-groundbreaking, day-to-day thoughts and experiences are just as important to me, because they make up real life!
So as I said, I’m getting ready to go camping tomorrow with my boyfriend and I’m super excited to get out and be surrounded by trees, fresh air, and mountains. We’re camping right by a lake and I can’t wait to jump in and go swimming. I even bought a cheapo inflatable pool lounger to float around on. It actually, ironically, strongly resembles a beer pong table, complete with cup-holder-like indents in a triangle formation. My first thought was “Hey, these indents look like beer cup holders!” Old habits die hard, alright?!
I was reflecting on this time last year. My boyfriend and I went on a camping trip around this same time. I hadn’t yet fully committed to sobriety, and was in a very unnerving headspace, constantly switching between “Yeah, I need to stop drinking” and “Fuck it, YOLO!” I was in the middle of another half-hearted attempt to ditch the booze, but as the camping trip started looming closer, so did my thoughts about having a drink. We all have strong associations in life, and one of mine is camping and alcohol. I mean, how could I not have a glass of wine around the campfire at night? How could I possibly go float in a lake or river without a beer in one of those ridiculous beer koozies proudly sporting the slogan “Real Woman Drink Beer!” in hand?
In the days leading up to the trip, I was constantly debating whether or not to bring a bottle of white wine. My mind was going back and forth like a ping-pong ball. Yes, I’ll definitely bring it. It’s decided!…Wait, wait, no. I don’t want to do this anymore. La Croix it is! The mental gymnastics were exhausting.
Finally the morning of our camping trip arrived and I hastily stuffed the bottle of wine in the cooler. Fuck it, one bottle of wine won’t hurt. The whole drive there I could feel its presence. A sense of anxious anticipation of the first sip flooded my mind.
To make a long story short, the Universe intervened and ultimately prevented me from drinking the wine on that trip. I decided to have a glass, but when I tried to open it, I couldn’t. The cork literally crumbled and the glass started cracking. It was bizarre. I was seconds away from asking my boyfriend to try to drill a hole through the cork with a screwdriver when I decided that maybe this was a sign, and I gave up. I didn’t drink that trip, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to.
Fast forward to today, I’m not even thinking about the booze, or the lack thereof, going into this camping trip. I’m thinking about the lake and trees and cooking food around the campfire and listening to the buzzing of crickets at night. Last year, I was so ridiculously preoccupied with alcohol that I was hardly present to enjoy the beauty around me. What a shift!
Sometimes we get so caught up in where we want to be that we lose sight of how far we’ve already come. Pull off to the side of the road on your journey and take a few minutes to really reflect on where you are now compared to where you used to be. If you’re doing the same thing over and over and it’s not working, notice that and decide if you want to do something differently. If you’ve come a long way, notice that and give yourself a pat on the back.
The longer I go without drinking, the more it fades into the background, almost as if I’m readopting a child-like mentality about booze. I know it exists and is out there, but it’s not something I dwell on, need, or even want most of the time.
I hope that with more time, preoccupation with alcohol will fade even more into the background, so that thoughts about drinking are no more than a light, harmless, and infrequent touch.
Until then, I’ll notice how damn far I’ve come and feel proud of myself for that.
Here’s to sitting around the campfire, sipping on kombucha, and looking up at the blanket of stars with quiet, powerful gratitude.