Sobriety isn’t at all times simple, particularly whereas touring. Right here, six tips about find out how to navigate the world fortunately—and soberly—from somebody who’s been there.
Brittany Hong was watching a PBS section on a standard Thai tattooing methodology, Sak Yant, dreaming about getting the tattoo, when the belief hit. She was solely 26 years outdated, however she would by no means go to Thailand. In truth, she’d by no means journey wherever past her metropolis. Caught in a virtually decade-long cycle of substance abuse, something past her squalid condominium simply wasn’t an possibility—except she made a change.
“I had all these large concepts, however the medicine and the alcohol at all times took precedence,” Hong says. “You’ve to have the ability to plan for [travel], and I simply may by no means do this. So I had these large concepts however a small life, and I simply watched my life continuously cross me by from the barstool.”
What felt like her unchangeable future proved not simply changeable but additionally hopeful. That PBS second sparked one thing inside Hong. In 2013, two years after watching that section on Thailand, Hong hit all-time low.
“Alcohol and medicines will rob you of every little thing,” Hong says. “It’s an eventuality.” For Hong, it took the lack of her two youngsters—her mother and father took them beneath their supervision—and a brutally sincere dialog along with her mom to see actuality. Sufficient was sufficient.
“I detoxed alone,” she says. “That was actually impactful for me as a result of I discovered myself alone in a home with no mates, no household, and that’s the place it had taken me. No one was calling to test on me. And after I acquired up, I went to an AA assembly.”
After that July 7 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) assembly, Hong by no means appeared again.
Lay a robust basis earlier than taking that first journey
Though Hong wished to leap straight into touring, she waited three years to take her first journey. First, she needed to do the work to set her life so as. Her sponsor (somebody in AA who was additional alongside in her sobriety journey) strengthened the significance of laying the groundwork for accountable maturity.
“She actually taught me find out how to be a girl with integrity,” Hong says. “I had spent so lengthy avoiding all my issues, hiding in a bottle, that I actually had misplaced the power to know find out how to take care of my life.”
Hong began with small, sensible steps. This stuff included paying payments on time, constructing her credit score, and creating wholesome routines for her life. One of many easy but foundational routines her mentor requested was that Hong make her mattress every day.
“I used to be attempting to get sober, and my life was in shambles,” Hong says. “I couldn’t consider that this lady was telling me that I wanted to make my mattress. I had larger issues, however I had no concept what to do and she or he scared me somewhat bit, so I began making my mattress daily.”
Every day that she made her mattress, Hong discovered herself taking different small steps: placing her water glass within the sink, placing her laundry away, or vacuuming.
“We are likely to need to consider every little thing as like, we go all in, and it’s these little motion steps that we construct upon,” Hong says. “It began with my mattress and I used to be capable of actually begin to do issues and maintain myself.”
As soon as she had these elements collectively, Hong started to pursue her journey goals.
Begin small with what’s round you
Persevering with on her sober journey—and reunited along with her youngsters—Hong began with quick solo journeys that have been manageable for her as a single mom. As she overcame the totally different obstacles in her manner—discovering sober-friendly locations, checking out childcare, discovering her personal pursuits—her perspective started to vary. She stopped on the lookout for excuses and commenced on the lookout for options.
“I had this mindset from consuming like, I can’t do that. It was at all times, nicely, I can’t, and I began on the lookout for the methods of how I may,” Hong says. “Thailand was off the desk, however going for a weekend journey? I reside in Tennessee. So can I’m going spend the weekend mountaineering within the Smokies? I actually began studying find out how to use my sources.”
As a single mom, Hong additionally discovered to ask her mother and father and mates for assist and childcare.
“Most individuals need to assist,” she says. “You can go to a pal and ask if they may assist watch your children for the weekend so you possibly can go to New York the place you’ve by no means been. Give individuals the chance to assist out. We are likely to shrink back from that however for probably the most half, individuals need to have the ability to do this.”
Hong would additionally swap childcare assist with mates. She would watch her mates’ youngsters for a weekend, and they’d watch hers in return.
Tackling the logistics for extra minor journeys taught Hong find out how to be resilient, nevertheless it additionally allowed her a coaching floor that wasn’t too removed from residence if she wanted to return to her secure area.
Plan your solutions—and your exit methods
In environments the place there was alcohol, Hong needed to be taught what she felt snug saying when requested why she wasn’t consuming. Throughout a go to to Los Angeles, she was seated on the bar space of a restaurant. Different company have been sending drinks her manner, and she or he was the one solo lady eating within the space. She felt uncomfortable. Defending her sobriety in that second was so simple as flagging the waiter right down to get reseated someplace quieter.
“You don’t must be a hero; you don’t must show something,” Hong says. “If you happen to’re not snug saying you’re an alcoholic or that you simply’re not consuming, that’s completely your selection. One of many [lines] that I’ve used earlier than is that I’m on medicine that I can’t drink with. Or no, thanks, I’ve to drive tonight. No is an entire reply, however on the identical time, I additionally assume that once we’re attempting on one thing new, typically it’s good to have the ability to say, no thanks, and provides some sort of purpose.”
When she stays at Airbnbs or lodges, she at all times contacts the host forward of time to request any alcohol be faraway from the fridge or room. Hong additionally stresses the significance of getting a deliberate manner out for those who’re going into an atmosphere that is perhaps problematic.
“Go forward and plan to solely keep for an hour and see how that feels,” she says. And understanding transportation is essential. “If I’m going out, how do I go away if I begin feeling uncomfortable, or everyone’s simply drunk, and I don’t need to be there anymore? How can I get myself out of this case?”
Hong at all times prefers to have her personal methodology of transportation. She remembers an occasion when she went on a weekend journey with a pal however every of them drove their very own automobile. What she thought could be a sober-friendly getaway shortly become heavy-handed consuming. As soon as she realized the scenario, Hong left shortly and safely in her automobile.
Stay open to new experiences
On the journey of sobriety, there’s additionally a means of studying new hobbies and pastimes as outdated habits get reduce out.
“After I first acquired sober, somebody requested me what I love to do for enjoyable,” Hong says. “I bear in mind it leveling me. What do I love to do for enjoyable?” In sobriety, she began attempting new issues. She took pottery lessons, ran a half marathon, and discovered find out how to rock climb. “I began growing these hobbies,” she says, “and I carried them with me into my travels.”
When planning new experiences, Hong tries to e-book actions unique to the realm she’s visiting.
“Use your sources,” she says. “Wherever you’re going, lookup daytime actions. Google is our greatest pal. Ask different individuals. Journey teams for ladies are actually big. Do your analysis as a result of there’s a lot to do; we simply slender that for ourselves once we consider actions which might be like, ‘How can I get drunk?’”
With alcohol off the desk, Hong says she’s been capable of go a lot deeper into her journey experiences with actions like cooking lessons and rappelling in Zion Nationwide Park. She additionally observed deeper connections with these she meets in her travels.
On one solo journey to Lake Powell for a half marathon, Hong was on the lookout for a beginning place earlier than the race. One other runner caught her eye, and Hong felt compelled to strike up a dialog. The runner and her husband turned out to be sober.
“Out of the hundreds of individuals at this race, I walked as much as the 2 folks that have been sober. She and I ended up operating collectively the entire time,” Hong says. “She was simply one other lady residing her life large and daring, and I wanted an instance of that in that second, and I walked proper as much as it.”
Lean in your group
Even on her solo journeys, Hong depends on her assist community—her sponsor particularly. Earlier than journeys, they might talk about how she felt and potential considerations or points to look out for.
“I might test in along with her earlier than [I left] after which daily or each different day,” Hong says. “Simply being tethered to somebody, letting them know the place I’m at and what’s happening—which is a secure journey apply normally.”
She encourages different sober vacationers to do their analysis earlier than happening a visit and hook up with others throughout the sober group.
“Do some due diligence,” Hong says. “Like asking a sober pal to go along with you, planning it with any individual who’s sober, and likewise seeing what sources are within the space. Be considerate in your journey: The place am I staying? Is it that form of vibe there?”
One of many optimistic outcomes of the pandemic has been the elevated accessibility of conferences and sources as issues are moved on-line. Hong encourages individuals to search for accountability and assist teams within the locations they’re visiting but additionally take into account on-line assist teams.
Perceive that not everybody will perceive
When she first started touring solo, Hong obtained loads of pushback and disgrace from others for not bringing her youngsters alongside.
“It was essential for me and my story to search out my identification and discover what I cherished,” stated Hong. “After being a mother and being in energetic habit, I had misplaced myself. I took a deep accountability to turn out to be an entire particular person and a cheerful particular person so I may then present up for my daughters.”
It wasn’t simple, particularly as individuals implied Hong wasn’t mom or that she was elevating her children fallacious. She stated it actually impacted her, hurting her emotions at first.
“I used to be questioning myself quite a bit at first, however the extra I did it, the extra I understood I used to be changing into a greater particular person,” Hong says. “As a result of it’s a muscle, proper? As a result of it doesn’t come intuitively. We’re anticipated as girls to place everyone earlier than you, so I needed to apply getting OK with that and apply swimming up towards the stream.”
Hong’s choice to go towards the grain hasn’t simply impacted her life. She’s seen a ripple impact within the lives of these round her too.
“I’ll by no means remorse the travels and the issues that I’ve completed,” Hong says. “It makes me a greater, happier particular person and a greater mother and I’ve watched it give my daughters the liberty to be extra authentically themselves.”
Hong attributes her perspective and braveness to her sobriety. Sobriety has given her a second probability at life, a second probability that she doesn’t intend to take without any consideration.
Hong has gone on a number of journeys since getting sober and makes it a behavior to go on a minimum of one solo journey per 12 months. And Thailand? Hong lastly made it in 2019, the place she acquired a Sak Yant tattoo (a tattoo historically given by Buddhist monks as a protecting talisman).
Ajarn Kaidet, often known as Toto, was one of many few Sak Yant masters who would carry out the tattoo ritual on girls. Hong sat on the cool tile ground whereas the previous monk hand-etched the tattoo onto her again, chanting protecting prayers as he dipped the lengthy bamboo needle into ink after which into her pores and skin.
“I simply bear in mind pondering, I used to be lastly capable of make my very own goals come true,” Hong says. “I used to be in a position to do this for myself, the self who by no means thought one thing like that will be capable to occur.”
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