Another successful #soberholiday weekend. Of all the things I heard in rehab almost 4 years ago, there was 1 unplanned, impromptu conversation that struck me to the core. It literally changed everything. It was one of those where you remember where you were sitting, what you were wearing...
It was Tuesday, July 28, 2015. The two sons of the couple who were caring for me were in their 20’s. Both are popular, successful, attractive men. Why do I share that? Most, if not all, of us assume not drinking means we’re sentenced to a life of lonely, friendless, boredom. We assume we won’t get invited anywhere, we’ll be labeled a loser or goody-goody. We picture nerdy loners, out of touch with modern times.
Ty and Brooks Best couldn’t be further from those misconceptions. One’s, a model, the other a hunky firemen/EMT/first responder. Let’s just say neither suffer from a lack of dates or fun groups of people with whom to hang.
On this particular night, while visiting their parents, (and all of us women in their recovery program) they overheard me expressing fear in returning home. It would have been my 12th day sober. I was whining about not being able to have any fun anymore. I questioned how I could ever go tailgating or boating, again. How would I ever go on vacation, attend cocktail parties, or cookouts? Ty and Brooks began to share about their childhood, what it was like growing up with two sober parents in recovery.
According to them, there parents were always very active and social. Their father, Billy, took them hunting and fishing and boating. Mom, Mary Beth, organized and hosted cookouts and parties every holiday with neighbors, family and friends. But never, during any of those outings or events, did their parents drink. Most times, in fact, there wasn’t even alcohol present.
“Our childhood was fun! We went all kinds of places and always had people around. But no one was ever drinking. To us, now, we never feel like we need alcohol to have a good time. Our parents showed us life was fun without it.”
Insert mind-blown emoji. At this time, my children were 11, 9 and 8. While they hadn’t seen my worst, my need for alcohol all the time, to do all the things, was increasing. I couldn’t go anywhere, do anything, or have anyone over without drinking. And while they hadn’t yet made the connections, it was coming. There was one particular night the spring before I got sober, when we had a several neighbors over. It wasn’t a planned event, just a kind of get together after a school function one Friday night. Naturally, everyone was drinking, most of us were drunk. The next day, one of my kids said that they didn’t like it.
“There were too many people I don’t know in our house.”
I was lucky my child verbalized it. How many times had they felt uncomfortable somewhere, even in their own home, but didn’t have the language to express it? I don’t care how old our kids are, THEY NOTICE.
I’ve been to hundreds of 12 step meetings in recovery and nothing breaks my heart more than hearing a woman with MULTIPLE YEARS OF SOBRIETY cry over the fact that she still has no relationship with her grown children because of the things she did (or didn’t do) while she was still drinking-none of which she recognized at the time…
While I give God all the Glory for shaping my path and softening my heart to be willing to consider sobriety, I also thank Him for Billy and Mary Beth Bestand how they equipped their sons to humanize what I still wanted in my life. They gave me HOPE…
Today, our family is recovering from another #soberweekend on our boat. This will be our 4th summer boating, traveling, grilling out and celebrating life without drinking. I can’t control what my children choose to do about drinking when they get older. All I can do is educate them on addiction (they have known since I returned from rehab that their mother is an alcoholic), pray that none of them inherit the disease and show them the actions we take in response to what life gives us, the choices we make in how we respond, react, grieve, treat and celebrate has a much more positive impact on us than any amount of alcohol ever can. Life is hard. But it’s also so, so good. And today, I’m grateful I get to feel and see clearly every minute of it...with them...the way they do.