Eversince being diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse last Feb of 2012, I have been following my doctor’s advice to stay sober.
The early stages of my journey to sobriety, however, took a toll on my “mental” well-being because I used to drink daily and get drunk every weekend. And being in that routine for nearly 12 years before my dreaded diagnosis did not make it easy for my body to avoid the very thing it sought everyday.
Though I’m thankful that I got over the fact that I was supposed to enroll myself in AA, I still went through a very emotional process. It took a lot of prayers and pep talks (try 6 months) for me to accept my new “sober” lifestyle.
So when I traveled last year, it was a first for me to go out without touching a single bottle of alcohol. How did I cope?
Even if I was “fine” without alcohol, there were times when I felt jealous, sad and angry at the fact that I could no longer drink. I remember hitting Bangkok’s Khao San Road, the place where I got so wasted out of my mind 4 years ago. While everyone seemed to be enjoying a glass of ice cold beer, I was stuck with my mineral water bottle and I felt bad.
It can be very difficult to “fit in” because travel and alcohol usually go hand in hand. But aside from ordering cranberry juice and pretending it’s vodka tonic, I told myself one thing when I was out there:
If you drink alcohol today, you won’t travel tomorrow.
The thought of traveling more inspired me a lot to stay away from the thing that nearly took my life away 6 years ago (I slept on the wheel due to intoxication and got hit by a small truck).
I know that someone might contest saying, “you only get to live once”. True enough that we’re all going to “expire” eventually, but I don’t want to push myself towards the brink of death for things that I CAN CONTROL (yes, drinking is something all of us can control).
So to the travelers who find it difficult to stay away from the bottle but have to, this is my advice:
If you need to be sober on the road, do it. Because if you won’t and your life ends right there, you’re not going to leave a legacy, only a reminder to everyone how fucking stupid you were for not following your doctor’s orders.
Don’t listen to those who tell you how “uncool” you are for not drinking. There is no such thing as being COOL or KEWL when the situation involves your health and your life.
If you’re having a hard time being sober, talk to someone – a friend, your family, your significant other, a psychologist, your doctor…anyone. If you’re spiritual, talk to God. Bottomline: talk to someone, and ask for help if needed. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s a very tough battle, but you can go through it.
And lastly, remember this:
Travel is NEVER about ALCOHOL (most people may disagree but seriously, it never was and is..HELLO?!). You can still see new places and enjoy the company of new friends and travelers without alcohol – all you need is an open mind, a kind heart and a sense of humor.