Just a (hopefully) quick little post to dump some mental clutter before going into back-to-back sessions. I feel like I’m going to have a nervous breakdown today.

I’m having a very hard time trying to balance some work responsibilities that are necessary while I’m away, and the work I am actually here to do. I’m usually pretty decent at time management, but right now my mental and emotional state aren’t really being conducive to much of anything.

Last night, we had the luxury of being taken downtown to a restaurant for a going away dinner for two fellows who are leaving today.

It was far too early for me in this program to be placed in that environment. I had anxiety seeping out every pore on the way there, and had to strategically place myself in a position at the table where I wasn just looking at the wall, so as not to see any other guests in the restaurant that may be having drinks…drinks that I am still wanting so badly.

So far, that’s my only first strike against this place. I wasn’t ready for that. It wasn’t really fair this early in the game.

Luckily, they had San Pellegrino and I’m pretty sure I drank them out of their entire stock of it.

I could have said no, I’m not ready to go. But, that would’ve meant a counsellor had to stay back with me here at the clinic, and I know they all really wanted to go celebrate the massive success of these two men that have come so far, and may never meet again.

I didn’t want to be that guy that ruined it for everyone else.

But, I passed the test, somehow – however I think I’m paying for it today.

My stress level is through the roof today, like a top being wound up and ready to release any second, spinning out of control and unaware of anything in it’s path. Today’s sessions should be interesting – if I can get through them.

It’s lunch now – but I have no appetite. Funny how stress can push aside the most basic of your needs, just like addiction can push away love, push away hope and welcome in all things destructive that it craves and feeds off of.

And speaking of “off” – I can’t wait to get off this rollercoaster.

I feel like there’s three of me here, squeezed into one little box on the ride and eventually one of us are all three of us are going to fall out.

The me that just wants to work at becoming stronger.
The me that needs to still maintain some semblance of responsbility in my businesses back home.
And the me that just wants to crawl up into a corner and sleep for the next 3 weeks.

They’re all having a wicked battle today, and I sure hope the me that came here to get stronger wins in the end. At this very moment though, it’s anyone’s game.


Written by SJ VanDee

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


  1. Gosh, that was early days to be in that situation. Still I guess they must know if it’s ok??? Still, I felt your anxiety even reading it. Maybe you could bring it up in a session. You are doing brilliantly Shawn, I know it’s rough butt it’s so worth it x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I trust them here – and it was a really nice restaurant (which actually made it worse because they had a killer wine list that I skimmed out of habit then slammed shut before I exploded). I did bring it up, and it was discussed on the drive there that I’d likely be uncomfortable and everyone was very sensitive to it. In the end, I take responsibility since I agreed to go. And, look at me, I didn’t die! 🙂 Now, to learn (slowly) how to do that in real life in a few weeks (I’ll likely just avoid restaurants and bars for quite some time…) xo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I would go with the crawling away and sleeping 3 weeks. I did a lot of sleeping in early recovery. Mind and body recharging and learning to live without booze. I don’t know why they would take you to a restaurant. That’s a bit odd. Nonetheless, just work on you. Keep talking and sharing. It’s shitty right now, and will be for a bit, but it’s worth it in the end.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I agree, I probably should have said no to the offer to go – but in hindsight I am glad I did go. Not only did I not have to ruin it for the others who DID want to go, I learned I could get through it (with supervision haha!) and NOT die. 🙂 Still struggling on the sleep front…hoping that improves with time, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It takes some wisdom to recognize the situations that make us uncomfortable. I call that a major victory.

    My first year sober, I never went to a bar, for any reason, whatsoever. It was just what i needed because I didn’t trust myself at the time.

    I also was always told to “have an out” in every circumstance. Meaning, at the drop of the hat, I can leave a circumstance if need be.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks so much, Mark! It was definitely out of my comfort zone and in my opinion way too early – but I also recognize I had the choice (learning to say “no” is on my list…). My counsellors here are really helping me get into the program – and learning to recognize those situations and having those “outs” is on the agenda for sure in the coming days/weeks. 8 days down…20 more to go…then only the rest of my life 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with Paul S. Sleeping would be my choice. Sometimes I think just resting and letting all of the toxins out is most important. I’ve heard it takes a very long time actually. But blending in ‘real life’ situations might actually be good. Soon enough you’ll be back in the real world… so now you are ‘practicing’ with supervision. That’s important too! You don’t want to go home feeling like you just entered a new planet. Smooth transition… Love you Shawn. Hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet 🙂 Right now I’m just trying to find the time to do everything I need to do. My commitment and focus is being here and getting better…and making some great progress in 8 days, already (can you believe it’s been 8 days?!) Happy in hindsight I did go to the restaurant, since I already miss the two great guys that left, and would’ve been sad to have missed the ‘big goodbye.’ I just wish there were an extra 10 hours in a day so I don’t feel like other (sadly unavoidable) responsibilities from the ‘real life’ aren’t falling to the wayside. Running your own businesses is hard LOL. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Until I could accept, embrace and enjoy the ride and the view, the ride continued to be a horror show. When I did finally, I didn’t want to get off, there is too much I might miss and feel. You are a powerful carrier of an important message of the possibilities. Count the first excursion a success. Thanks again Shawn

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, as always 🙂 It was definitely full of anxiety leading up to it (I was oddly fine, until we climbed into the cars to go…then it felt real). But, proved to myself I can most definitely sit in a restaurant, have a meal NOT have a drink (or 2 bottles of wine) – and not only survive but still manage to enjoy myself. Easy to say now, sitting there with my counsellors…a month from now I’ll be drawing my strength from somewhere else for sure. I have a very interesting thing that happened to me this morning, stumbing between Steps 2 & 3, on our beach walk this morning. A bit of a (very bizarre and life changing) spiritual epiphany if you will. Looking forward to sharing it tonight if I find time to blog after our sessions. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 🙂 I just had a very long much needed nap – Wednesday afternoons are technically “our time” to work on assignments and writing, reading (SO much reading). Loving it here so far, just finding so much is put into one day, I’m staying up a bit later than I should, and waking up a bit earlier than ideal…but coming from averaging 2-3 hours a night, I’m still getting at least twice what I was before I arrived. Slowly getting into a routine! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Trying not to do too many things at once is important. Otherwise you can crash and burn. Your body and being can only take so much. Think of it this way, if you came down with a terrible illness that put you in the hospital, you would have to rest and not worry about other things – just getting better. People would understand. Good for you to go to the restaurant. Like someone said earlier, you will have to eventually. Trust me it does get easier. I felt the same way at first.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you 🙂 It happened and now, in retrospect, I’m very glad I did (especially now that the guys have left to go home, I would’ve regretted not going). I survived. It was definitely unconventional but on the last day whoever is leaving gets to choose if and where they want to go – and I wanted to support them. Another week here before going would’ve definitely had been helpful though – but I proved to myself I could sit in a restaurant, have dinner – and not die. Who knew!?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That would be a really hard position to be in so early in your recovery.
    I know when I went out for dinner with hubs a little later, it was really difficult to see other people drinking.
    In my AA meeting today, a woman who has just finished treatment and has been sober for about 60 days, talked about feeling that she could crawl out of her own skin.
    That she feels so awkward.
    Remind yourself that this will pass, and that you will grow stronger.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks – ya, it was pretty uncomfortable but I focused on the food LOL which was thankfully delicious (lobster & pumpkin ravioli!). The food here is generally average…so it was a definite treat. For some reason I can’t get enough mineral water or Perrier into me right now and I never ever drank it before LOL! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. See, now I’m getting my head wrapped around you… What bugs me is that you should be talking about all of this to your counselors.

    It seems to me, by dumping all of this here, you’re still left with one of the biggest problems there is in recovery; Your best thinking landed you in treatment. I can say for certain, my best thinking landed me in treatment, and simply dumping all of my baggage wasn’t enough. My baggage had to be sorted though, and not by me, because my best thinking landed me with all of that crap to begin with.

    I dig that you like to journal, recovery is no joke though, and almost every one of us who walked through the door thought we pretty much knew the score… only to find out that we were woefully short.

    Maybe I’m just reading too much into you, but something just doesn’t sit right. Look at the bright side; If I didn’t give a shit, I’d just “like” your post and move on.

    It gets better, you know? Being out there in it? For a while you’ll want to recoil as if from fire, actually run away may be a better description, but as you become more entrenched in sobriety, you will get better at knowing your limits – and running away the second you step over them, because that’s the only way to survive.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I absolutely talk about this **and so much more** with my counsellors. I’d be a complete idiot not to lol. It’s why I am here, and I’m blessed that I have an amazing connection with all three. Again, I write here for myself. There was so much clutter banging in my head and heart before my sessions, typing it out (quickly as I can see from my typos lol!) helped me straighten my thoughts and better get through my sessions. Trust me – there’s 99% of shit coming up that is not and will never make it onto a page here. And thank you for not just moving on – I really do appreciate your advice and guidance!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure, that’s what we do! I’m glad you’re talking… One of the best things I had going for me, other than I made a decision to be done, was talking about everything that bounced through my melon. Keep it up.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. I can’t imagine why they would take you to a place that serves alcohol I’ve never heard of a treatment center doing that. But if you want to look at some hope I suggest reading the Step 10 promises that start in the bottom of page 84 in the Big Book, those always give me comfort.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Yes I agree it was a bad idea to do that. I did have the choice – and I’m in the Dominican Republic (things are done differently here, despite it being a Canadian run facility). I’ve made the recommendation (firmly) that they don’t put others in the seat I was put in, in the future…


  10. It was very kind of you to go so that counselor could go, but I’m sorry you had to face that so soon. I believe you will win in the end. I believe you will get stronger. It is very early days and there is lots to learn. Don’t forget when you leave there are the AA meetings. They are so helpful and wonderful – full of love and encouragement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks 🙂 I agree it was too soon – but I did have the option. I was okay in the end 🙂 I did do my first AA group here last Friday and we are going again this week – it was really wonderful! I’d never been to one, and though this is an in patient program they do put a big emphasis on outings, which I’m loving. I actually got up and shared last week (still surprised I did that) – but very glad I did. As part of our aftercare program I’ll need to have a solid plan in place for meetings and support groups, people, a sponsor (eventually?) and so on. Learning a little each day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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