Blog

Mar19
2018

Traveling the World Sober

By Yashika Ellis

I recently spent four weeks traveling around Europe, mostly roaming around Italy as a combined self-care vacation and early graduation gift to myself. One night while in Rome, I was hit with the sudden realization that I had never really traveled beyond sporting events and family trips until after I got sober.

The text I sent my friend after coming to this realization read:

“The old me would be having a completely different experience on this trip clouded by alcohol and partying with strangers. I never would’ve appreciated being here even half as much as I do.”

Her response:

“It’s so interesting hearing about a Shika I never knew.”

What she said made me stop and reflect on how the friends I’ve made in recent years have no idea of the person I used to be. They’ve never met her, and they never will.

There’s not a whole lot I care to remember about those days most of the time either. I hardly recognize myself when I look at old pictures. It’s weird when you really think about it: How does someone no longer recognize who they once were?

The simple answer is growth. The process is healing.

_________

My relationship with alcohol was always complicated. From the age of 15 to 25, I fell into a toxic on-again, off-again pattern. I wasn’t happy the majority of the time and drank to numb the pain.

To be honest, I was tired. Tired of feeling like I needed alcohol to deal with life, tired of drowning out my thoughts, tired of dulling the pain so I wouldn’t have to feel or face my own emotions.

One morning, I just woke up and decided enough was enough. In that moment, sobriety was the only answer to saving me from myself. I didn’t want to spend another night drunk or another morning hungover, barely able to function.

When I decided I was done with it, I didn’t say much, I just did it. I poured out the bottles that were hiding in my closet, I quit spending time with the people I partied with, and I avoided environments where I knew I’d be tempted to drink.

_________

A year into being sober, I was in a car accident. My sobriety, along with the accident, changed me; it altered my perspective of life. I stopped hiding and started unpacking all of the things I had buried beneath the alcohol. It made me pay attention to my mind and body, and quit ignoring the pain. I began to listen to my doctor, and finally went to therapy.

Throughout my healing, I discovered a love of traveling. It’s since become the best thing to come out of my sobriety. This most recent trip to Italy had been a dream of mine for years, and being sober allowed me to fully appreciate the adventure. Everything I saw, every person I encountered, all of the delicious food (and gelato) I consumed, and every memory I captured on film or in my journal, would not have been same had I been hindered by alcohol.

Was it harder than usual being in a country where drinking and partying daily is considered the norm? Yes, very much so. But I did it. And I will continue to make that choice to stay sober again and again each morning. On the days when life pushes me around, I will dig my heels in, reach for my strength, and choose to fight back.

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Comments (4)

  1. Gabby

    You’re so amazing! I’m so glad to have known you my whole life. I’m lucky! Love you shika!

    Reply  |  
  2. Dale

    Love this. I too am in recovery. You gave me inspiration to keep fighting to reclaim my life. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  3. Promise Williams

    Amazing seeing you grow my friend.

    Reply  |  
  4. Ashley Chapman

    Wow! Congratulations!!! And yes – the world and life is more beautiful and interesting when not clouded by the effects of alcohol!

    Reply  |  
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