Wedding Season as a Non-drinker

I have now attended 4 weddings as a sober señorita.  Before the first one I felt like it would be this big milestone.

I felt like I had to inform everyone before I went. “Just so you guys know I will NOT be binge drinking & getting shitfaced at _____’s wedding like I normally do.”  Although I guess it made more sense for my first sober wedding that I declare that because it was only after a month of sobriety for me.

During that first sober wedding I remember feeling lots of anxiety. It was still in the days where I kind of felt like I was missing out on something.  Looking at all of my friends getting drunk and having fun –  It was hard.  Being sober was something I felt like I had to do and when it was over I breathed a sigh of relief, I did it – I attended my first wedding stone cold sober.

After that, it became normal.  It wasn’t a chore.  Just because weddings are a beautiful, special occasion doesn’t mean I have to drink.  In fact, I don’t want to drink and now I don’t have the feeling that I am missing out, because I’m not. Dancing is just as fun sober as it is drunk, trust me!

During the first two weddings I attended sober, the thought always crossed my mind, what will it be like on my wedding day?  At first I would ponder if I would be ready to take a drink by then.  That was back when I felt like maybe I would want to drink at my wedding.  Well now I know I won’t drink on my wedding day whenever it comes and that alcohol will be the last thing I’ll be thinking about on my wedding day.

All this wedding talk came to mind because my sister will be getting married this year in just 4 short months.  I am lucky enough to be her maid of honor and have been planning her bridal shower, bachelorette party, and writing a speech for her special day.

If you asked me a year ago how I felt about her wedding, my answer would have been: should I toast with champagne during my speech or not?  Looking back I feel like that is A. a really selfish answer and B. Not what my first thought about a wedding should be!  It just goes to show how centered my thoughts used to be around alcohol.

The best part about being more aware and present is that I can plan all these special events for my sister and not ever think twice about the drinking. Yes, there will be alcohol at these events, but no I won’t be drinking.  It’s just how life is for me now and I like this life.

I will get to remember and savor every moment of these amazing times.  I will sleep easy knowing I will know exactly what is going to happen.  There will be no shame, no guilt, no trying to remember what the heck happened the night before. I am no longer anxious thinking about the drinking situation on my own future wedding day.

The thing I am most concerned about right now is keeping my cool during the MOH speech at my sister’s wedding.  I loathe public speaking and I will most likely begin sobbing after the first 5 words. I will not have the crutch of alcohol there to help.

I am FINALLY coming into my own. I have an identity without alcohol, without being the party girl. It feels like the first day of high school all over again – scary, weird, and a bit awkward. I am still navigating and discovering. I am discovering ME…. and it feels damn good!

Cancun beach wedding sober

My sister and I at our friend Jess’ wedding in Cancun in April

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7 Things I Miss About Living in Cancun

It’s been over a month since we made the big move to the USA.  Things have been great here and we are slowly but surely getting adjusted.  Even though I am extremely happy to be living back stateside there are things I miss about my beloved Mexico.  To soothe my nostalgic feelings here are 7 things I miss about living in Cancun.

 

1.  Tacos al pastor

OMG why? I never even ate pastor until probably the last year I lived in Cancun because I was a vegetarian when first moving there.  I started out by trying a torta de pastor and then graduated to the classic tacos and now I am stuck dreaming about the perfect red meat garnished with onion, cilantro, and pineapple. Ok my mouth is watering now.

cancun mexican tacos al pastor

The first thing we did when we went back for the wedding weekend.

2. The beach

It’s true we have a beach close by here in Cape Coral , but it’s just not the same as the ones in Cancun.  I miss the cool white sand and turquoise oceans.  I miss the men on the beach that sell fresh fruit for 20 pesos.

blue water cancun beach

3.  The close proximity of everything

In Cancun everything was very close to where I lived.  Traveling to work, CrossFit, nice dinners, soccer games, and the beach was easy and affordable via buses and taxis.  I definitely love having my car here in Cape Coral, it’s easier to grocery shop, but it does take extra time to get everywhere since everything is so spread out.

4.  Our cleaning lady

We miss our dear cleaning lady Sandy who helped us move three different times and was not only a cleaner, but an organizer and cat lover.  I miss her great work and her affordable salary.  In Cape Coral we have done a pretty good job of keeping up with the cleaning and it is MUCH easier with a dish washer, vacuum cleaner, and washer/dryer.

5.  Hotel Day Passes

Another quality I loved about Cancun was the cheap hotel passes available to locals.   You can easily get a full day (9-5) at a nice hotel including usage of their pool, with all drinks and food included, for $30-$40 USD per person, a great deal to take advantage of once in awhile.  There are hotels with beach clubs on Fort Myers, but I don’t think they sell day passes.

6.  Historical sites to visit

I believe there are historical sites I have yet to visit here in Southwest Florida, but I’ll always miss the Mayan archaeological sites in Cancun and the neighboring cities.  There is just so much history and untold stories and culture in that area of Mexico.  I know when we go back to visit I will have to hit the Mayan sites I haven’t been to yet.

Coba archaeological site tulum

Fer and I climbing to the top of the pyramid in Coba

7.  Cheap veterinary costs

I had to take Ramona to the vet here in Florida already because she was having stomach issues.  Just the check-up without any blood work and 7 cans of healthy digestion food cost me $100 USD! I about fell over.  It was really nice just paying 200 pesos ($20USD)  per visit on average in Cancun.

There are many other food items I miss like mole, cochinita, and agua de horchata, but if I listed all the food items we would be here all day.  I also miss my friends and family that I left behind.  On the other hand, there are a lot of things I DON’T miss about living in Mexico and I am very grateful to be living in a nice area in a house with luxuries that aren’t available in many houses in Cancun.  There are a lot drinking memories that I was happy to leave behind in Cancun too.

Mexico will always hold a special place in my heart. I can’t wait until we can go back and visit and enjoy even more aspects of this beautiful city that we weren’t able to while living there. :)

 

Online Sober Reading

sober sayings quotes

 

In my post How I Got Sober I talked about how reading about alcoholism and addiction online really helped me get through my first months in sobriety.  I was looking for comfort, answers, and to know I wasn’t alone.  I found many great books and websites along the way.

In this post I decided I would outline for you the main websites I like to read for information, community, and encouragement.

1.  Sober Nation

Sober Nation is a website full of addiction and recovery resources.  You can find treatment centers, current addiction stories and articles in the news, and a recovery blog where people like me have written their personal stories.  They also bring up important questions and topics that are discussed in the recovery movement.  I really like the fact that they are committed to removing the stigma from recovery.

If you’re looking for some awesome sober gear, Tim the founder of Sober Nation, is also co-founder of New Lyfe Clothing. They offer some pretty cool t-shirts that promote sobriety and they decorate your bag with a nifty inspirational quote when you order one.  I just bought one.

 

sober clothing new lyfe

2.  Veronica Valli: Recovery Rocks

Veronica is a recovered alcohol and drug addict, an addiction therapist, and an author.  I have learned so much from her in a short amount of time and I am lucky to also call her a friend.  Her website is full of informative and interesting blogs, recovery rocks interviews with other people in recovery, and promotion of her amazing book: Why You Drink and How to Stop .

Out of all the addiction books I have read hers was the one I could relate to the most.  She breaks down the concept of alcoholism, the path that takes you there, and what drives it.  She outlines how you can change your personal story at any time – only you have the power to create your own future.

One quote I really love from her book is, “It isn’t alcohol that kills alcoholics.  It’s the lies they tell themselves in order to keep doing what they are doing.  If they didn’t lie to themselves, the pain of the reality would be unbearable.  Why is it we would rather drink to the point of destruction than tell someone else how we really feel?”

I definitely recommend reading her book and checking out her website.  She might help you make sense of what you’re feeling.

3.  Addictive Daughter

This website and concept was founded by two 20-something BFF gals from the UK.  Their goal is to get you “addicted to the good stuff.” They tell you how to get your addictive personality to focus on healthy things.  These girls are not only encouraging and intelligent, but they release funny and inspiring videos on how to deal with life.  They refer to them as “life nuggets.”

You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

4.  The Fix

The Fix has A LOT of great info and is more news, reporting, articles, and opinion pieces on recovery and addiction.  I enjoy this website because it always has the most recent news and it is raw and honest.  You can find many different view points on this page.  They also review rehabs and have sections dedicated just to sober culture and sober living.  They have been featured on The New York Times, The Huffington Post, MTV, The Daily Mail, and many other news sites.

5.  She Recovers 

I can’t remember how I came across this site, but what I love most about it is their Facebook page which is always sharing inspiring quotes.  Additionally, this website offers Yoga recovery retreats and they sound amazing.  Some of them are held on the beach in Mexico right near Cancun where I used to live.  Although I haven’t been able to afford one yet, I’m hoping one day I’ll get to go to one of these retreats because they sound great.  They also have a section on their website called Reading Room where you can find many different types of books about recovery.

6.  After Party Chat 

This website I just recently started reading, but I love it.  Its slogan says it all:  “Where to go when the party’s over.” I love that concept.  It’s a great website for addiction news, advice, and resources for addicts and their loved ones.  I enjoy their “lists” section where they sometimes poke fun at recovery.

This short list is just the beginning of many resources and reading I have found online since I started my sober journey.  I hope that you guys enjoy these and can get some use out of them.  I will be making another list in the future of just books you can read as well.

Do you have other sobriety websites you enjoy that aren’t listed here? Tell me in the comments.

 

 

A Glorious 4th of July in the USA

nephew family 4th of july

My nephew and I with our face paint

 

After living in Mexico for several years, this year I was excited to finally spend Independence Day in the USA.  I was looking forward to having some good old fashioned American fun and to seeing a real fireworks show, as they don’t have those in Cancun.  Also, it was Fer’s first ever 4th of July in the States, another reason to celebrate.

I was SO excited I actually baked red, white, and blue cupcakes!  A plus about living in the USA is that you can find recipes on Pinterest and actually find all the ingredients at one store and for a reasonable price.  I can’t wait to try more new recipes!

Holiday baking 4th of July

On Thursday night we drove to my sister’s house in Cooper City, Florida to spend the weekend with her, her fiancé (also named Fernando!),  his son Adrian, and Fernando’s sister Jackie.

Friday we grilled out with hamburgers and hotdogs, made Mexican ojo rojo drinks (an alcohol free one for me), and after the afternoon storms passed we headed to nearby Bamford park that was hosting fireworks, arts & crafts, rides for kids, live music, and lots of yummy food trucks.

the fourth family miami

We took our time, walked around and took in the sites.  I decided to live it up and get my face painted.  We watched my nephew jump in some bounce houses and enjoy rides.  The innocence and culture of the 4th of July swept over me.  Finally, I was getting to show Fer something unique about my country, after learning about Mexico over the last several years.  The diversity of the families, the joy of the children, and the colors of the sunset left us feeling happy and content.

sunset colors Bamford Park Miami

4th of July celebrations 2014

You should have seen Fer’s face during the fireworks show, it was priceless.  He had never experienced anything like it.  The “finale” at the end of the show where they pump up the amount of fireworks and everyone cheers literally left him speechless.  He asked me if we would have to wait another 365 days to experience a fireworks show like this.  Needless to say, I think his first stateside 4th of July was a success.

4th of july fireworks celebration miami

On Saturday night we ventured into Sunny Isles Beach where my sister and her fiancé used to live before they bought their house.  We ate a family dinner at their favorite local Indian spot.  If you know anything about Miami and its surrounding suburbs, it is very diverse.  Fer pointed out “Wow there are all different kinds of people that work here.  Our waiter is Indian, the hostess was Eastern European, there are a few latinos, and an Asian waitress as well.”

Perhaps the best part about being back in the USA is the mindfulness that we are and always have been a nation of immigrants.  That it has never been odd or weird for me to see people from different countries speak different languages and live and work in the United States.  In that moment I thought back to many times in Cancun where I was stared at because I have light skin and speak English.  It became normal to me to feel like an alien in Mexico – a gringa amongst Mexicans.  Here, you don’t bat an eyelash when you hear another language. You are never a Mexican amongst Americans, you are just American.

In that moment Fer smiled and I could tell he felt comfortable, like he would never be made to feel out of the place living in the USA.  A perfect lesson for me and my loved ones to learn on the 4th of July. :)

fireworks 4th of july 2014

The Wow Factor

“I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain, and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry. You will someday.” -American Beauty 

 

In my entry “A Year Without Alcohol” I talked about how I have been feeling all kinds of emotions since getting sober.  Some of the best ones are moments of clarified happiness.  This has been happening to me a lot lately and I’d thought I’d describe how it feels.

I couldn’t think of a better name for this feeling than the Wow Factor.  It’s like …zest for life combined with beauty, happiness, and gratefulness all wrapped into one.

If I’m lucky, I get to experience these moments of zen 2 or 3 times a week, sometimes more.

It happens when I’m wearing goggles and  I’m at the bottom of the pool looking up through the water towards the sky.  I know it sounds kind of crazy, but I feel like in that moment I’ve never seen something so beautiful.

It happens when I’m riding my bike at sunset through my new town in Florida with the breeze blowing and the sun shining just enough to warm my face.

It happened when I crossed the white sand in Cancun just before my eyes caught sight of the blue waters of the Caribbean sea.

caribbean paradise beach sea

 

It happens when my family is all together in the same house, laughing, chatting, and just enjoying life.

It happens when I’m breathing in the good energy and exhaling the negativity at yoga.

I feel it when I lie in my bed next to Fer laughing hysterically about something.

I feel it when I finish a 5K race or make an amazing play in one of my soccer games.

It’s seeing the colors of the sunset light up the sky.

During all these moments I have the same amazing feeling.  I stop, I close my eyes, and in that moment I feel pure joy; I am calm and grateful for my life.  I can’t remember ever having these types of moments when I was drinking.  Sometimes this feeling of gratefulness is so overwhelming I want to cry.  Yes, I am a huge SAP and I cry at the drop of a hat! haha.

I think when I was drinking I was so unhappy with myself and my life, I never felt content and nothing was ever good enough for me.  Now, I feel so lucky to be where I am in my life.  Every time I experience this I am just in awe.  I smile from ear to ear and I ask myself, is this really my life? How did I get so lucky!? And nothing particularly miraculous could be happening, yet I still feel this way.

Like I’ve said before, my sober journey has been wonderful but not always easy.  Sometimes there is sadness, flashbacks, urges, and guilt.  I’ve had to accept this new me, who can’t drink alcohol and I’ve even lost some friends along the way.  Despite all of that, I have the most positive outlook on life I’ve ever had.

I finally realize that even the bad times have been a part of my growth.  That sometimes I must shut certain chapters of my life in order to move on to new ones.

I don’t know where exactly these moments of happiness and clarity come from, but I am so glad I get to experience them.  I’ve never felt so thankful to be alive and healthy.  I guess these are what kind of emotions you feel when you have a clear mind and an open heart and are not engulfed in a cloud of alcohol.

WOW, life is good.

rain storm flower southwest Florida Cape Coral

10 Things You Should Never Say To Sober People

Some of my latest posts have been pretty emotional and serious so I wanted to publish one that pokes some fun at sobriety.  Sober people can make drinkers feel uncomfortable and sometimes they chime in with the most unusual comments.  The following is a list I comprised of things you should really never say to sober people.  Some have actually been said to me, others I just came up with.  Drinkers..consider these next time you’re around a Sober Sally.

Addiction Alcohol

Image: Party Sober Clothing

 

1.  “You’re not drinking? Ever..?”

Interrogation! When I first became sober I always got real anxious when asked this question. Oh god, ever? That’s a really long time. Um, do I have to make this decision right now? Can I get back to you tomorrow? Is it your business? Then when I did become sure that yes, I will not be drinking, ever, I still felt like it was kind of a dumb question.  YES, I will not be drinking FOR-EVER. Shock ensues.

2.  “Shot, Shot, Shot!”

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Alas, some people forget, or waiters at the bar just don’t know.  Shot, shot, shot, shut UP. haha.

3.  “But red wine has antioxidants, it’s good for you.”

::Facepalm::  Sure, let me break my sobriety because red wine has antioxidants, said no sober person ever.  It doesn’t matter if alcohol is healthy or not, that has nothing to with why I can’t and don’t want to drink it. Period.

4.  “You’re not an alcoholic!”

I think this comment comes from a good place most of the time, but it’s unnecessary.  Only I know if I’m an alcoholic or not and either way, I stopped drinking for a reason.  Does it matter what I call myself? Tomato, tomaTOE, I say.

5.  “Aren’t you bored?”

No, I’m not. I’m many things, but bored isn’t one of them.  I can have fun and not drink.  I am actually enjoying life sober.  I will remember all of this tomorrow and won’t regret any decisions I make throughout the course of the night.

6.  “Hold my beer.”

I think I’ll pass! I don’t want to drink and I would prefer not to hold your smelly cup of beer while you go to the bathroom.  It makes me feel weird.

7.  “I’m sober too. I only drink one or two drinks.”

Hate to burst your bubble, but if you are having one or two drinks you’re not sober. I still think it’s great you are successfully regulating your drinking, but you are only sober if you do not drink any alcohol.  Come on over to the sober team whenever you’d like, we’re waiting!

8.  “I didn’t think to invite you because you don’t drink.”

Just because I don’t drink doesn’t mean I don’t want to be included in social outings, club nights, or parties.  Maybe I won’t always want to go to the bar or club, but I don’t mind going once in awhile for special occasions where all my friends will be.  I can attend all these important events , I just won’t be drinking.  The best part is I will actually enjoy and remember them!

9.  “Let’s go to the after hours club!”

Ok I want to be invited everywhere, but not there. Haha.  I used to be the queen of after hours and now you’re lucky if I make it out for a fun club night.  Plus – nothing good happens at after hours clubs! Real talk: I’m definitely not going to another bar after the bar.

10.  “You don’t drink?  I feel bad for you.”

Please don’t feel bad for me! I made a healthy and amazing decision for my life and it feels great.  Being sober is what works for me and I like it!  Maybe I should answer with: You still get hangovers? I feel bad for you.

Addiction recovery

Image: Party Sober Clothing

This concludes my fun list of things you should never say to a sober person.  I’m sure there are some I missed.  Has anyone ever said something to you while sober that you felt was odd? Let me know in the comments!

Memes in this blog powered by: Party Sober Clothing

How I Got Sober

I’ve been receiving many messages and emails asking what I did to get sober.  Many people have asked me if I’ve gone to AA or if I followed a certain step program or went to treatment.  My answer might shock some.  I have done none of the above.

My answer is I have no sobriety secret or fool proof way to get and stay sober.  I only know what worked and didn’t work for me.  I was not physically dependent on alcohol, therefore detox was not necessary for me.  Although even if I was, in my circumstances I think I was determined and willing to deal with sobriety on my own. (This is not recommended for those who need detox.  Do not endanger your health!)

When I decided to quit for good it was because I had tried everything else.  It was also because I realized I was hurting people who loved me.  I was making my family worry about me constantly.  They would sit around waiting for the next phone call telling them I had a drunk injury, lost my purse, or worse.  Fer was going to break up with me because he had had it with my drinking.  I finally wanted to change.

Here are the steps I took to get sober:

1.  I declared to myself that I was not taking another sip of alcohol until further notice.  At first I wasn’t sure when that further notice would be, but I knew it would not be soon.

2.  I thought about what I knew about not drinking and the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind is Alcoholics Anonymous.  I had nothing to lose so I joined a bunch of AA chat rooms online and signed up for some women’s AA email chains.  This was good at first as it kept me occupied and I had meetings to attend online.  However, I didn’t feel like I really belonged.  As we all know the 12 step program of AA is centered around a higher power, which many attendants refer to as God.  This concept was foreign to be because I am not a spiritual person.  I felt nervous and lost in these online meetings and then people in the chat rooms began to single me out and ask me why I had never been to a face-to-face meeting.  The only reasons I had for not going to face-to-face meetings were that I lived in Cancun and didn’t know where to find one in English, and because I was scared. The people in the rooms didn’t seem to be interested in getting to know me personally and didn’t really seem to even acknowledge my sobriety because I had no AA chips and had not been to F2F meetings.  I also didn’t have a sponsor and wasn’t officially working the steps.  I got tired of the harassing questions and I quit the online meetings and took myself off of the email chains.

I have not totally ruled out AA and I know that it works great for a lot of people.  Maybe it just doesn’t work for me.

3.  I read and researched all I could about addiction, alcoholism, and sobriety.  I found Facebook pages, blogs, websites, and books to read that helped me understand how I was feeling.  I have learned a lot and I continue to read these types of publications. I searched and continue to search for people who are like me.

4.  It was important to me that I not miss out on anything.  I knew that I would need to be able to say no to drinking in public settings because I refused to avoid situations where alcohol may be present.  When I go to a party, club, or bar I make sure I always have a drink in my hand so I don’t feel different or out of place.  These are sometimes non-alcoholic cocktails, soda, or just water.

5.  When I first stopped drinking and people would ask why I wasn’t drinking, I would simply say I just wasn’t drinking that day or at that party.  As the months went on and I felt happier and more comfortable being sober, I would explain that I no longer drink, my life works better sober, or that my body doesn’t accept alcohol anymore. Simple and straight to the point.

6.  Lastly, I chose to share my story.  I refuse to be ashamed or embarrassed about being sober.  For me and many others, being sober is cool!  It works for me.  I think sharing my story has inspired others and lets them know they are not alone, which is exactly what I have been searching for myself.

There are no easy tricks in the journey to sobriety.  Mostly it’s about being real with yourself and facing reality.  I am still growing and learning everyday.  I am still exploring other types of meetings and step programs.

How did you get sober? What worked for you? Let me know in the comments below!

before and after sober drunk

Another lovely before and after of me! On the left is when I broke my nose while black out drunk in 2012. On the right is after 7 months of sobriety in December 2013.