The Strategy of Staying Sober

Garden Chess Set at hotel during vacation Wow! Just packed up the car and the kids and are on our way home from a very quick beach trip.

I'm happy to report that I woke up clearheaded and FREE of REGRET because I stayed sober during this four day vacation.

Today marks 35 days of being alcohol free and I really do think there is something to the science of it taking a certain amount of time - such as 21 or 28 days - to form a habit. I see it becoming infinitely easier to reach for a water or ask for a soda water at a restaurant (where my default used to be asking for a wine or beer).

I woke up at 5 a.m. one morning because I wanted to go for a run and watch the sunrise in silence. (Since we only stayed for three nights, we got a hotel room with two beds so we have been sharing a room with two four year olds the whole time!)

When I walked out to the beach I passed a garden chess set and thought about the strategy of staying sober.

For me, it has never worked for just announce "I'm done with alcohol" and stick to it. To make it to 35 days and beyond I have had to really set up a strategy for success.

And, much like chess, my success thus far has depended on thinking several steps ahead of my opponent (in this case a run drink on the beach, a glass of wine at dinner or a Bloody Mary in the morning - because it's "acceptable on vacation right?!").

Here's how I approached this particular game. And it started way before my toes hit the sand.

  1. Visualization - while I was packing for the trip, I visualized myself staying sober and having a great time. I clearly saw myself ordering a soda water at dinner time and getting up early to enjoy a coffee and morning run. I think it's an important piece to get your subconscious and brain on board with buying in to a new normal.
  2. I Stopped Romanticizing Alcohol - when I would yearn for a robust Cabernet or a spicy Mai Tai, I really thought about deconstructing all the lies about alcohol. Would it numb me from the stress of having two young children at the beach? Sure. But then I'm trying to numb out of every experience. It wouldn't magically turn me into a new person free of struggles or disappointments. It would just numb me. And that's not what I want out of life
  3. I Thought Through the Drink - would that first glass of wine feel great as it slowly circulated through my system? Yeah. I know it would. By the temporary anesthetic (because that is what it is) would wear off quickly! And then I would be left wanting more and more. Until I tried to go to sleep and ended up having alcohol-induced insomnia. I would be anxious as hell he next morning and full of regret. And my skin that has cleared up so wonderfully would start to break out. And I would be back at Day 1, waiting for alcohol to get through my system. And I don't want that.

Alcohol wouldn't magically turn me into a new person free of struggles or disappointments. It would just numb me. And that's not what I want out of life.

So, it is possible to go on a vacation and stay alcohol free!! And all in all I had a great time. I wasn't chasing my next drink. I wasn't worried about balancing my beer in the pool while playing g with my kids. I wasn't worried about breaking out because I wouldn't have washed my face full of sunscreen at bedtime because I would have been a little drunk.

We played putt putt, went on an alligator adventure, built sand castles (that would not have been up to anyone's rudimentary standards!), drove go karts (I myself chose to adhere to very conservative speeds) and enjoyed quality time together. Without alcohol shoving its way into the mix.

Did we get on each other's nerves? Have a few crying fits? Get irritated by sand everywhere? Sure. But this has been a resounding success in my sober story!