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  • Kim

How to Survive Disney Sober

Evan asked me last night if I remember when we talked about taking a Disney cruise. This was 4 or 5 years ago, back when I was heavily drinking. I remember thinking to myself that the cruise was both a horrible idea and a wonderful concept. I loved the idea of being on a boat where the kids were entertained. I liked the idea of going with other families that we knew well. I thought I could drink as much as I wanted without feeling guilty or without Evan noticing. I knew the kids would have friends and be kept occupied. At the same time the cruise terrified me - not for the obvious reasons of children falling overboard or Norovirus. No. I was scared because I knew I would drink too much and probably not remember anything from the vacation. I knew I wouldn't be able to control my drinking self once I step foot on that cruise ship. I wouldn't be able to regulate my consumption and I would be chasing the buzz all day. I knew this routine, and I knew the spiral and deep depression it led me into as well. It had happened to me before on spring break - all day drinking in the sun was never good for me. I always drank more and more each day, starting earlier and earlier as the vacation progressed. Alas, this was a year before the pandemic, so we never got around to planning this trip - thank the Lord. Then, I got sober. Thank the Lord again.

We are now at Disney this week in Florida with our kids. This is obviously not my first sober vacation, now that I am about 2 1/2 years sober. It is fascinating though every time we go away, to reflect back on my drinking self and to consider how I would have handled this particular trip before I got sober. Walking around Epcot in particular - I would have really enjoyed that park. It seems like that one place in particular is a drinker's dream. Our hotel is a ten minute walk from Epcot, so we have spent a lot of time there - in fact most evenings we have had dinner there. And during the 5:00 happy hour, we often find ourselves walking from country to country, and all they seem to be serving from Germany to Japan are different types of drinks.

There is so much booze! Everywhere you go! We were in Animal Kingdom on a rainy Tuesday morning, and all I wanted was a cup of coffee at 11:00AM. I found several bars selling all types of wine, beer and liquor but it took me at least ten minutes of wandering around until I found a tiny, single coffee shop.

I am just so very grateful that I am not trapped anymore by alcohol. I am not stuck in the cycle of constantly thinking about where, when and how to get my next drink. I am so grateful not to be hungover and cranky, waiting in line for rides in this heat, losing my temper on my children because of a wine headache. I am grateful not to be rushing to the bathroom because of an upset stomach due to one too many heavy beers at the German Biergarten. I am grateful for the energy required to wake up and workout at the gym each morning before a full day spent park hopping. Ultimately, I am grateful for the mental freedom from alcohol, and to be fully experiencing every moment with my children.

Disney is a lot. It can be a soul-sucking experience if you aren't in the right mindset. The Florida heat alone can make you want to curl up into a ball and hide from everyone you know by lunchtime. Fortunately, sobriety has given me the strength to step into a more positive, joyful headspace. And because of that I have allowed myself to be truly present this week to experience the magic with my children. Thank the fucking Lord.

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