It seems a silly thing to celebrate. 30 hours of sobriety. The average person can go 30 days without batting an eye. But here I am – checked into detox and waiting for the gross parts to pass.

I can’t take credit for most of that sobriety, just yet. They gave me a pill to help me sleep – and sleep I did, for 12 hours. I sweat like Niagara Falls and had the worst nightmares of being stuck in a photography dark room sorting through black and white negatives of grotesque murder scenes. I peeled off the t-shirt I slept in like a second skin. Disgusting. It should just be burned – and I’m sure all the alcohol that seeped out of me and into it would fuel the fire like gasoline.

Small accomplishment No. 2. I didn’t drink on the plane.

I wanted to so badly. But reminded myself that it would just start the cycle over and I’d be in detox even longer. So I resisted and pretended my tomato juice was 50% vodka.

Small accomplishment No. 3. I’ve eaten. A lot.

On top of all the alcohol and addiction, I resist eating. I’ll go days without food sometimes, and just fill myself up with litres of wine and not a morsel of nutrition. But I’ve eaten solid since yesterday – including a bag of sour peach candies last night that made me want to be sick, but I needed something to excite my taste buds for the lack of wine. Sugar. Anything.

They’re feeding me well here (and I can now say I’ve experienced octopus salad, which was a culinary masterpiece). I will admit I did not want to eat, yesterday or today, since I’ve got here.

And I don’t think it’s because of hunger.

It’s because I don’t really want to be social, just yet. These first few days of detox, I’m allowed to do as I please, for the most part. And talking is among my absolute least favourite things to do on a good day – especially with new people. And everyone here is “new people.” Not many of them thankfully (there’s 7 of us at the moment) but it’s like my first day of school and I’d just rather wrap my head around the fact that I’m actually here rather than start spilling my drunken beans to total strangers.

I have the shakes. I’ve smoked one extremely long cigarette since I got here – I barely need a lighter because I could literally light each one after the one before if I cared to. I need to work on that.

For the first time in forever, I’m not listening to music – at home, there is music playing 24 hours a day. It’s my therapy. Right now I’m listening to the birds, and the wind. I hear hammering in the distance, and someone singing.

I think it’s Genevieve. She’s a doll.

My leg won’t stop shaking. I could seriously power a vehicle with it right now and my head feels like someone is inflating a glass balloon. My stomach has started doing absolutely horrible things and in the last hour I’ve developed a pounding in my ears – not from my heart racing but something beating far deeper inside me.

My nerves.

Tonight, I meet with the doctor again, and we’ll discuss my treatment plan. I’ve already met two of my counsellors, both seem wonderful. I was greeted with the biggest hug when I arrived at the airport. I wasn’t expecting that at all.

Funny how your mind can create an entirely different world for you to waste your time dreading. Expecting the worst, when only the best is waiting for you. Lining up worst case scenarios like little toy soldiers just waiting to attack you.

I just looked at my hands for the first time. I knew they were shaking. They’re actually trembling as much as my leg. Sad. It could be the coffee, but even that I’m trying to moderate. So far, not going well on the coffee front.

One day at a time.

And, for the first time in over a decade, I can say “I didn’t have a single drink yesterday.”

Tomorrow, hopefully, I can get out of the detox room and into my actual room. The Detox room is totally depressing. I’m looking forward to ‘settling in’ – right now I can’t even unpack. The only thing I’ve unpacked is a toothbrush and 4 framed photos of my cheering squad back home. It helps.

I’ve been questioning if I belong here since the moment I landed. The guy in the detox room next to me looks like he’s been run over by 15 steamrollers. He hasn’t slept since he arrived on Monday and the poor guy is losing his mind. I feel for him – any meds they’ve given him aren’t working. He’s been too strung out on opiates for so long that he’s literally immune and his brain just won’t shut off. Like one big stationary thunderstorm that won’t stop rumbling.

He has the thirst and it’s not giving up. But I’m so proud of him for being here – whether it was his choice or not. I’m rooting for him. 

I’m rooting for myself.

I question if I belong here then I remember that I’m out of control.

So, today is Day 2. Of forever.

But all I’m going to worry about today – is today.

For a much welcomed change, I’m not going to spend my day wound up in the last 3 decades. Or the last year. But I will dwell a little on yesterday, because I’m damn proud of it.

It’s still early – 11:17am, but I’m fixated on wanting a drink. I have been since my last one at 3am yesterday morning, when I made a conscious drunken effort (is that possible? Conscious and drunk in the same sentence?) to remember every single moment of that last drink, and the weight of the glass as I placed it in the sink. Bawling my eyes out. I can hear the glass stem hit the metal and could paint you a picture of what it looked like.

My last glass of alcohol, and it was so much heavier than the glass itself.

Being here – and I mean really being here, in this moment – is going to be the hardest part of this journey I think.

Wish me luck. It’s this time every day I start drinking and I’m literally fixated on that. Just spoke with a fellow patient here and he’s suggested I go ask for a Valium to chill me the hell out – he noticed my hands shaking and my nervous leg that’s pretty much able to vibrate this entire island at the moment.

Sorry this has been all over the place. Appropriate for how I’m feeling right now.

One day at a time.

A dragonfly just landed on my laptop.

Day made.

Written by SJ VanDee

Recovery Blogger. Sober AF. Photographer. Storyteller. Writer.


  1. So happy to see that you made it there! And good for you that you didn’t drink on the plane. I have been following your journey since you started posting. I am just over two months sober, and believe me, it gets much better. A beautiful true life is starting. Wishing you all the best.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Shawn;
    I’ll join the crowd, in congratulation for making it into day 2. I’ve found that I can always improve on being present, there really is more there than be comprehended by my own mind. I too am, overjoyed that we will be reading about this phase. You have no idea how much it helps me in my recovery to get to take part. Thank You!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Anne xoxo I’m trying 🙂 I’m the last person to ever ask for help. So this alone is a big stumbling point for me. A counsellor just made me go to the nurse to help me take the edge off. I was a bit too proud to admit I needed something to chill me out. Second person to recommend it today. I caved. And thank god I did.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. 30 hours is a big deal. Not drinking on the plane …well done. This is an amazing gift. You deserve it. I remember the early days being surreal. It really is worth it Shawn. Keep an open mind. My shittest day sober is still better than any day(and especially the day after) when I was drinking. Sending much much love.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Congratulations on not drinking on the plane! I promise you will feel settled soon. The first few days are the hardest but you will soon find yourself in a nice routine and an easier groove. Not to imply that you are going to be skipping around in rainbows and sparkles… but you will make it. I feel like I’m right there with you, remembering the same space you are occupying in your mind. You will be amazed at how much room you have in your heart, ready to fill will life and wonder. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, one minute at a time if that’s what it takes. You will settle into the routine and once the withdrawals are over, I’m sure you will feel much better. But that’s when the hard work begins. Remember I’m cheering for you!


  5. I love this. Thank you. And I was so looking forward to the sparkles!!! 😉 I’m looking forward to the routine. But right now this chance to not think (and think about everything) without a sense of duty to 48,000,000 other things is doing me good. Packed a lot of demons with me that snuck into my luggage…!


  6. Hey Shawn, Keep repeating the words ‘ONE DAY AT A TIME’ it always works. Spritually sending you all the strength and blessings you need . Stay blessed. Stay strong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 Yes, I’ve been repeating that…and ‘I’m good for an hour’ LOL. Then the next hour. And the next. So far it’s working well. Just getting into the counselling now so I’m looking forward to it turning into “One day at a time” soon! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am glad you had this rant. I am sorry, I do not want to judge but the person who wrote that comment seems very selfish and bitter. He/she wrote that he has been in recovery for a long time and he worked with a lot of addicts. I am sorry (again) but based on what I learned and experienced, people are very different (what else is new???). He/she does not seem to be happy for others. Instead, he/she questioned you and well basically called you a liar. Good people in recovery stick together and encourage each other.and it does not matter if they have different experiences because they don’t compare.And her/his name indicates that she/he is a Christian…maybe instead of commenting he/she should read the Bible regarding the unconditional love of Jesus.
    Ok now I am judging…but I am angry..dammit.

    Liked by 1 person

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