Traveling to a Foreign Country as a Sober Gal
Today I hit 600 days of sobriety. It's a pretty good number.
We are still in Israel, and we have been on the go nonstop these last two weeks in Israel, and we have not slowed down or had much time to chill. We've been hustling from one place to the next to meet our tour guide, juggling to keep up with the jam packed schedule of sightseeing and hockey games. So, it has felt like less of a relaxing, beach vacation and more of a hectic, whirlwind trip. But it has been joyous, thrilling and wonderful all at once, and I have loved every minute of it.
Throughout it all, one thing has remained true. I would not be able to fully experience it all if I didn't have my sobriety. If I was stumbling through the day hungover, waking up with headaches, it wouldn't be the same trip. If I was escaping into booze every evening at dinner, I would be irritable and tired most days. I would be unable to enjoy the delicious food at all of these restaurants. Also, I would be missing the smiles, joy and wonder of seeing my children experience the culture of another country. I would be checked out. Numb. Absent. In the darkness.
Without a doubt, traveling in a foreign country comes with its challenges, especially with three kids. And it has been a struggle at times. Some days it has simply felt like too much family time - resulting in sibling spats and petty bickering. In the last few days, I have felt my patience wearing thin. I have expressed a need for some alone time away from my children - even just an hour. Maybe I will go for a camel ride alone tomorrow, I suggested tonight at dinner!
Each day though, I have prioritized my own bit of self care - by working out every morning, reading my book and writing a little each day. Taking a few minutes in the morning to breathe, relax in the sun or escape the chaos this traveling has made me feel is all the release I need. If I was still drinking, I never would have had the clearheadedness to do so.
Furthermore, it has been wonderful to be sober and present as Evan has been able to reconnect with some of his distant relatives. We spent two nights with his Orthodox Jewish family. We got to know a bunch of his cousins and his aunt and uncle, who is a rabbi. We were surrounded by so much love and warmth, and it was fascinating learning about this culture that is so unlike the world we live in. We spoke to his family members, many of whom do not speak English, about our way of living compared to theirs. They shared with us details about their life in Jerusalem as well as the community of Orthodox Judaism.
Both nights, alcohol was not the focus of the events. The first night, we had a picnic in the park, and alcohol was not even served. At the second dinner at Evan's aunt and uncle's home a few days later, we ate a delicious, home cooked Jewish dinner. There was no alcohol served with that meal, and it wasn't until after we finished eating that his uncle mentioned - "Oh, would someone like a glass of wine?" It is not that they are against drinking in their Orthodox religion - it is just that alcohol is not the center of their world like it is in the culture that we live in back in the US.
They get together as a large family of 30-40 people multiple times a week and have a joyous time, never necessitating alcohol to have fun. I appreciated that. I didn't feel weird drinking my seltzer, as everyone else had the same.
We took turns asking questions, learning about each other's lives. Some of them listened intently to us, watching with wonder. Others needed our words translated for them. My kids were in awe of this lifestyle and the foods they ate. They played soccer with their second cousins, communicating with hand gestures - their mutual love of the sport smoothing the way. They smiled and laughed, running around well past dark.
I am grateful that alcohol has not played a role in this trip. I am so happy to fall asleep easily with a smile on my face each night and to wake up excited and energized for a new day. Not a day goes by where I don't give thanks for my sobriety. I never want to go back to that life of drinking ever again. But - I must say, I am very excited to get back to my own bed in a few days and be done with hotel living, after we win the gold medal.