As most of you know I've been on vacation in Canada since last week. My trip has been amazingly unforgettable with lots of soccer, culture, food, and memories. I've had experiences that will last a lifetime. I've also had a few traumatizing things happen to me while I was away.
Our first vacation stop was in Vancouver, British Columbia, a beautiful city full of robust mountains, friendly people, rich Canadian culture, and clean streets. We were delighted at how clean, modern, and tranquil Vancouver was. Ironically, another thing I was surprised by was the amount of homeless people wandering the streets of gas town, the neighborhood we stayed in in downtown Vancouver. Friends of ours had warned us, "watch out for the junkies." Some of these disheveled homeless people looked mentally ill and others were in possession of, or on the hunt for drugs. They seemed to live out in the open and set up camp on certain sidewalk areas in plain site of uniformed police officers and the public. One day walking along the street I saw one of these people with their sleeve up, flicking a needle full of drugs, getting ready to inject it right into his vein. I turned away in pain. It was too close for comfort. I closed my eyes in time, but I'm sure he shot up right there. Later we had one friend tell us that they keep these homeless drug addicts in a secure three block radius to ensure their safety and the safety of others. Then another friend told us that the active addicts are completely harmless and that the police keep them together on purpose. They give them food, water, clean sterilized needles, watch for overdoses, and administer methadone if an addict needs help getting clean. One of my readers even commented about these addicts on my pictures of Vancouver on Facebook. She informed me there is a book written about them called In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts, by Dr Gabor Mate. I will be reading it as I find this tragic phenomenon fascinating. It was tough to see in real life, but I am glad the police are watching these still sick and suffering addicts closely and providing them the support they need.
Something else happened to me in Vancouver. I went out to a fancy date night dinner with my boyfriend and we were waiting for a table on the terrace to open up. We were given the drink menu to order something before they sat us at our table. I flipped quickly to the non-alcoholic section which had 4 choices. I picked something called pear cider that I had never heard of or had before. When my drink came, it was poured into a glass with a straw and I took a long sip. I knew immediately the drink contained alcohol as my senses are heightened to it. I pushed away the drink, disgusted. I grabbed the bottle and searched the text written on the side for alcohol content: my fears were confirmed, it was indeed an alcoholic cider. Cue freak out mode. My eyes welled up with tears. How could this have happened? I am normally so careful. I read menus and ingredients over and over again. This time I hadn't. Fer took the drink back to the waitress and asked for something else. He asked her why the alcoholic cider was under the non-alcoholic drink section on the menu. The waitress explain that the section was labeled "Ciders and non-alcoholic," meaning only some of the choices listed were non-alcoholic. I thought my night was ruined, but Fer reassured me telling me it wasn't my fault and that I stopped drinking it as soon as I realized it had alcohol. After dinner I texted my sponsor and told her what happened. She also had kind words of wisdom (as usual) and told me the same thing had happened to her several years ago. She said it can be a very scary experience (as it was for me too), but that she doesn't consider it a relapse or slip because she didn't choose to drink the alcohol. She said she uses situations like that as a reminder that she is an alcoholic and chooses sobriety.
I don't consider what happened to me a relapse, but I do consider it a fault in judgement on my part. I shouldn't let my guard down so easily. I should read the menus closer and make sure I know what ingredients make up any type of non-alcoholic drinks I receive at restaurants or anywhere else.
I chalked it up to experience and I tried not to let it ruin my dinner or my night. In the end I know I'm still sober because I wake up every morning and I choose sobriety as the foundation on which I build my life. The desire to drink alcohol remains removed from my spirit and until that fact changes, I'll continue on my path of self-love and recovery.