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Traveling and exploring the world has been a dream of mine since a child. I remember being PUMPED for vacations and trips that my family would take me on. Whether it was a beach trip or visiting family, I always loved traveling. I love airports (gasp!), trains, hotels, and all the tourist things.
When I was struggling with my mental health and my addiction symptom would be unmanageable, traveling was a nightmare. Whether it was worrying about having enough drugs to get through the vacation or worrying about how to smuggle it with me, there was always something to worry about. I would have to sneak away from my loved ones to use and it was always a walk of shame as I came back to them, trying to cover up what I had just done.
Addiction stole my joy of traveling and since starting my healing journey, I have found that joy again. The most recent trip that I’ve taken was visiting Austin, Texas. This trip was so much different than others and I’m noticing myself starting to let go and forget about the broken version of myself that I once was.
This trip to Austin came alive because my boyfriend, Eric, has a goal of running a half-marathon in all 50 states. Texas was his 15th state on his quest AND he reached a new personal record! He had a 7:25 min/mile pace and I chased him around on an electric scooter throughout the city to follow him and cheer him on. I was able to pack this epic collapsible blow horn for better effects!
While visiting, we scooted all around the city on electric scooters that I think may have been my favorite part. It nurtured my inner child more than I thought it would, plus we were able to get around so fast and see a lot. We scoped out a lot of murals and street art and I didn’t expect them to have such a strong emotional response from some of them. Many of them were about women and their power as females. Those were the ones that kept me frozen, staring in awe with chills on my arms.
We rented a little electric boat and floated around the city rivers. We did tons of shopping and of course we ate as much BBQ as possible. We went to 6th street and scoped out the nightlife – we even went to a live piano bar!
Traveling in recovery means that I can be present in the moments that I’m living. It means I can easily eat a meal or go for an adventure without anxiety about drugs. When I come across people that are selling or using while I’m traveling, I have no interest in it.
I can’t help but wonder if I’ll always think about drugs, whether it’s that I’m not using them or are. Sometimes I wonder if I can experience things without the voice in my head saying, “remember you couldn’t do this when you were getting high?” I don’t know if it’s a way that my body is trying to remain humble and to remind me to never go back, or maybe it’s PTSD. I guess what I want one day is to be able to do things without the reminder that I was a drug addict. I want to be able to simply go to a park and not have a thought about my past life. Even though it keeps me in gratitude, I can practice gratitude without that reminder.
Because with that reminder comes shame and grief, no matter where I am in my healing journey. So for now, I’m accepting these reminders and the emotions and thoughts that come with them. After all, experiencing the emotions and thoughts are part of my healing journey and I will try to welcome them and treat myself with compassion.
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