As mentioned below I recently returned from an unbelievable trip with my three best friends. I haven’t had a “real” vacation in years and certainly not since I’ve been sober, so we were all optimistic but somewhat apprehensive on how things would go. To put it simply, you wouldn’t have pegged me as a “spa and/or resort kinda gal” in my drinking days. No way. Now, in trips past, I’ve been all about drinking straight vodka in the direct sun by a pool somewhere while blasting the Foo Fighters from my earbuds. That said, I would usually pass out BEFORE happy hour and subsequently miss dinner. I wasn’t one to spend money on facials, massages and manicures or luxuries like that. No, my hard earned money went to very important things like SKYY vodka and bags of cool ranch Doritos.
It was not without expert planning how this trip evolved. A few years ago this excursion would have probably just pissed me off and I would have found myself drunk and dehydrated in the Arizona desert trying to make homemade gin out of a Juniper bush. Luckily, that was not the case this trip. This adventure was celebratory on many levels. It was the first time in 1.5 years that the four douchebags had been reunited, and that right there is cause for much rejoicing. It was also my 50th birthday, which was monumental to me, obviously, but also to my best friends since they *almost* had to to bury me in 2015.
I have a lot of observations and truths to process regarding this trip so I expect you’ll read more about it to come, as it was just too magical to properly convey in one post. There were levels to the awesomeness, if you can believe that. The FIRST and foremost thing I want to mention is that this is the FIRST vacation I’ve ever taken where I returned home feeling rejuvenated and ALIVE and restored. Rested and whole. Like only a weekend with your best girlfriends can do for you, but add in a FABULOUS resort that focuses on mindfulness, wellness and balance and you have a mind-blowing experience for a recovering drunk, lemme tell ya. For decades my vacations left me needing a vacation because I would return home limping, bruised, hungover, and penniless. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. And you know, that’s NOT to say I didn’t enjoy myself, of course, but I’ve never experienced a restful vacation. Sometimes you just have to get day drunk and skip obnoxiously with your (now) dead friend Ben through the Chelsea district in New York City and do some blow in a porta-potty with an African American drag queen. AS YOU DO.
One of the features of this resort were various classes of all sorts that you could add to your package. All types of yoga, a fitness boot camp, a 7am stretch class, meditation, photography, water aerobics, cooking, horse-back riding, zip-lining, and much, much more. I was giddy with choices. And moreover, they were good choices. There was no class that taught you how to shoot 6 ounces of Fireball and take off your bra without removing your shirt, for example.
In recovery there is much ado about meditation, so I decided to check it out.
It’s hard. And weird. And frustrating. AND FABULOUS.
The instructor was a mid-thirties gal who mentioned she had been meditating since she was eleven. SERIOUSLY!?? I’m fucking old. My parents gave me lawn darts and some Pringles when I was eleven and told me to get lost. She was warm, supportive and gentle in her guidance. As we settled in to begin, she asked us to go around the room and introduce ourselves and our intention for our practice. Awhile back I would have said that my intention was not to fart and/or doze off and where is the damn bar because surely to god I could sit here and do nothing with a Mimosa in my hand, amirite?
As folks started introducing themselves I listened and thought about my own introduction. As I thought about telling the real truth about my intention, my heartbeat began to speed up. I got sweaty and started pittin’ out as the voices crept closer to my own seat. You know that expression, “speak your truth even if your voice shakes?” Well, THAT. I decided to be authentic and truthful and let my voice shake. And shake it did.
“My name is Jenny and I’m an alcoholic. I realize this is the wrong meeting for that. (nervous laughter) I am in recovery and it’s been suggested to me to try meditation, so. . . here I am.”
The room was dead silent except for my heart which was about to thunder out of my chest. The instructor smiled at me warmly and said, “we support you.” I didn’t dare meet the gaze of any of the other participants out of sheer terror and if I’m honest, shame, but as soon as the words came out of my mouth, their power disappeared.
We proceeded to be guided in meditation for the next 30 minutes. Sometimes it worked and I found my inner essence in the stillness. The other half of the time my face itched, my stomach growled, and I couldn’t stop thinking about breakfast and what I hoped were chocolate chip muffins and not some carob bullshit. I’ve heard it said that “prayer is when you speak to God, but meditation is when God speaks to you.” I’m not sure God actually spoke with me but I do know that I achieved enough snippets of peace and serenity to pursue it again, now that I’ve returned home. Even the most experienced meditators fall victim to distractions and diversions. Be kind to yourself, they say. Gently guide your thoughts back to your breath. Start again.
I don’t know what will come of it, but I’m open to the possibilities, and to me, that’s the important part. As a drunk, I was unrelenting in my beliefs and reluctant to even entertain other viewpoints or perspectives. How ridiculous is this, living in your own intolerant self-absorbed bubble? It’s not who I am. And here’s the thing; I’m not completely sure WHO I am, but I’m slowly finding out and while it’s not always favorable, I know it’s worthwhile. Isn’t that why we’re here? To share this human experience and become the best version of ourselves that we can be? To be of service to others and help where we can? To be authentic and humble and honest with ourselves?
Life on life’s terms. That’s what we have, folks. There’s always going to be a shitty carpool, a troublesome co-worker, a pesky Mother-in-Law, unpaid bills and adult prone acne that will upset us and rock us off balance. Getting that balance back is the challenge.
I’m still here, I’m sober, and this time, I mean it.
Challenge accepted, Universe.
*the video above in an artistic depiction of one of my favorite songs by The Pixies, aptly titled “Where is my Mind?” Oddly enough this song has popped up in a somewhat reoccurring fashion these last couple of weeks. A sign, perhaps? I don’t know. BUT I’M OPEN TO IT DAMMIT.