There is great freedom in the promises of recovery.
I have just returned from a sober vacation. It was not my first sober vacation in recovery but it was a first of monumental proportions. This vacation was my first with my youngest since she was one year old and it was my first sober with any of my children. Crossing bridges seemed to be the a main theme as memories to last were being made. Just being able to go on a vacation is a reward of my continued sobriety but I never imagined the power in a sober vacation with my kids. I have experienced another of “the promises” of real recovery.
I have been on numerous cool vacations with my kids in the past. South Padre Island a few times, Mexico three times, they were our normal beach destinations. We had a good time, we did make some memories, but even still at that time in my life it was my vacation and one centered around alcohol. The kids could run wild on the resort while me and my ex-wife stayed at the pool bar most of time each day. I did not see it then but what and how much I was able to drink was my fun and first priority. There was no real focus on family and the “time” spent together. The all inclusive band around my wrist blinded me to the opportunities I was drinking away. The opportunities to make real and lasting memories with my children and my family.
This past week was a completely different story. It was the first time since being with Kamdyn in South Padre Island at a year old that I was heading out with her on a vacation, and the first sober as a parent. It is a reward, not just of recovery, but of living life with purpose. The memories we were able to make left me awestruck but what resonated with me more was the feeling of simply being a parent. Organizing potty stops, answering the question “are we there yet?”, making sure teeth were brushed, and the puppy dog eyes that came along with “Daddy can I have this?”.
The one thing I will never forget is her wanting to go swimming each night after a long day of sight seeing. Some days all she could do was focus on when we were going to swim back at the hotel . It is something that my flesh did not want to do, I was tired, the pool was crowded, and I flat out was not used to it being not about me. But I found an odd peace in the ability to say yes each night. I was crossing a bridge. Going from vacationing for myself to creating memories for my children while on a vacation. Personally I did not want to swim but there was a strength I felt in being able to be there as just a plain ole dad.
I was embracing responsibility. That was the source of power I was feeling. For the first time in forever I was feeling like a simple parent. Caring, guiding, and providing moments for my child that were causing her eyes to light up with such a serene joy. Our bond was being rocketed to another level. Not because of where we were, not because of the money spent, but because we were just spending quality time together. There was a self-acknowledgement in it that I had never felt. The true bliss one feels when their existence is not about them but about making the lives of the ones around them better. Sobriety promised me that and lasting recovery proved true on that promise.
The mountains are my happy place. It seemed fitting that we vacationed up in the mountains of Colorado especially since Kamdyn had never seen the mountains. Her face lit up when she first saw them, the amazement in her eyes at God’s majestic wonder filled this dad with pride. We visited the Royal Gorge where with no fear she crossed that bridge as I unsteadily inched across. We drove to the top of Pikes Peak in the midst of clouds and played in the snow. On our last day we toured the zoo, which was amazing, and then went on a surprise horse back ride in the mountain since Kamdyn is an experienced rider and loves horses. Of course, each night we were in the pool, which capped off the day perfect for her. And to top it off my son Brady was able to stop by for a visit while on his way back to Oregon. A gift, that still I’m not so sure I deserve.
Crossing bridges has become something recovery has allowed me to do. To leave the old life I once lived behind and cross over to a new life with the promises sobriety affords me. Now that I have some time in recovery and have been able to gain strength in living a purposeful life I have come to a place where I can lead my family, my kids, across bridges. This past week I led them on a bridge across one of God’s wonders in nature. Symbolic also in that I can now just simply lead my family. As an example of how to live, what is right and wrong, and setting the tone of love and compassion for their lives. We are crossing bridges, leaving behind alcoholism and addiction, walking towards a life of purpose while making memories that we all will cherish.