St. Pete’s Repeat – What I Learned About Early Recovery This Weekend


This is the restaurant we barreled past and I kept saying, “What about that place with the tapas? And the ceviche?” Until I was so annoyingly convincing, Jon Jon took us there…


Something weird happened to me this weekend. I went to St. Petersburg to see Jon Jon and Kallie, and it was the first time I had been there since I went to the “Writer’s in Paradise” conference at Eckerd College 1 1/2 years ago. I was only about six months sober at the conference and I was a pins-and-needles, miserable, insecure, dry drunk who holed up after sessions in my hotel room with a party bag of trans fat and my crippling fear of critique.


I had gotten a hotel far from the conference (not in the recommended hotel where many of the other attendees were socializing and making lifelong contacts), and I couldn’t figure out the street signs and every other storefront was a bar and I was anxious and I hated St Petersburg. The best way to describe my state of mind was “out of sorts”. I ended up leaving the conference early. I didn’t even go to the Dali Museum.


Early Sobriety Sucks

Here’s the weird thing that happened this weekend –  I discovered there is nothing wrong with the city of St. Petersburg. It was me.


Now I understand why the experts tell you not to take on too much in early recovery. The counterintuitive act of not drinking is consuming enough.  (a great resource by the way – I use their excellent blog all the time) lists the following things as activities to avoid in your first year of alcohol temperance:

* Taking on additional responsibilities at work or apply for a promotion
* Changing job or career
* Going to college
* Getting a divorce or separation
* Having a baby
* Starting a new romance
* Launching a new business venture
* Going on a long trip that will involve being away from recovery resources
* Moving house
* Moving to a new country

And I’ll add one thing more:

* Going to a writer’s conference where you are raked over the coals with constructive excoriation and where the evening get-together’s will invariably involve “pub crawls”. Writers drink, after all…


Take heart, my friends, in the early days of abstinence. It gets better. The fog clears (although it rained like a mother while I was revisiting St. Pete’s) and you can go back to those places that gave you pause and reevaluate with a clear head. And as it turns out, The Tapas Ceviche Restaurant downtown is awesome (and if you’re reading this Jon Jon, I know I was like a dog with a sock, but aren’t you glad we went?)


Today I’m not drinking because I don’t want to have to go through early recovery again…

How come you’re not drinking?