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What Did You Do On Your (Sober) Summer Vacation?

What Did You Do On Your (Sober) Summer Vacation?

What Did You Do On Your (Sober) Summer Vacation?

A few short years ago, the month of August would have been like every other month. I would have woken in a tangle of sheets, maybe bloody (certainly besmirched) with nausea rising in my throat and no memory of how I got the abrasions on my knees.


Read it and weep…

I’d reach over to the bedside table and drink the last dregs in the wineglass from the night before like a tonic. The curtains would be billowing, a sharp breeze off the Exuma Sound. And as I started another day in Paradise, I wouldn’t bother to look out of the window…


As patches of the previous evening came back, I’d get snippets of memory. It felt like the sickening strobe light – OFF ON OFF ON OFF ON – at the Happy People Bar in the village. A face here, a piece of a room there, swapped with a matt-black nothingness…


My past came up in the office yesterday. Jess said she could not imagine me in my active addiction. She said it made her sad to think of it. Weirdly, I can’t imagine it either. That time in my life, at the tail end of the maelstrom that was my late-stage alcoholism, feels like it happened to someone else.


Falling off a bar stool should hurt, right?

When I think about that crazy blonde who wore a wineglass like a wedding ring and drove a golf cart like a drunken banshee, I don’t even like her.  And think about what it does to your body to fall, dead weight, from the summit of a barstool. And what it must feel like to have a baker’s dozen of the local guys try to hoist you from a filthy cement floor.


It’s no wonder my Pucci kitten heals didn’t survive.  It’s a wonder I did.


There were good times living in The Bahamas. Such good times in fact, I cannot muster the nerve to return. Another island perhaps, but not Staniel Cay… not yet…


Although the Galliot Bank remains my favorite place on earth…


This summer I have been working…

Living in Michigan, is like living in Opposite World from The Bahamas. In fact, people work during the summer here and travel to warm climes in the winter. Speaking of working, I’ve been doing a lot of it.


And because I am proud of my accomplishments, and happy to be working at something I love to do, I wanted to share with you the new website I created (along with Jess, Monica, Kevin and Mindutopia) for Sanford House Addiction Treatment Centers.


We have gone from being a gender specific treatment facility for women, to adding treatment for men to the mix. It was necessary to rewrite the entire website before the opening (in the next two weeks in a series of events) of our newest restored historic mansion – Sanford House at John Street for Men. The website has been a long time coming. I began writing it in February, in a cabin in the Up North woods.


Walden Pond and all that…


When you think about it from the marketing perspective, a profound change in an organization makes for a host of problems, challenges, exigencies and opportunities. One must bow to the Gods of Google SEO… And what a fun brain teaser it is.


Now, I’m not saying that launching a new website and opening a 20 bed treatment facility is as relaxing as passing out on the deck of a boat on the Exuma Sound. And I am not sporting a tan this summer. But the confidence, pride and community I have developed during this process is so satisfying, I can honestly say I’d rather be doing this than sitting on a beach.


But I am thinking of taking one of those Michigan, fall vacays or booking a trip to Florida for the holidays now… All work and no play makes Mare a dull girl.


Click below to see my summer “project”:


X, M


Today I’m not drinking because, I’m planning a sober vacation!



How come you’re not drinking?

E2E – We are thinking of you every day…

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Comments (13)

  1. Avatar
    Aug 18, 2017

    I couldn’t be more proud of you, or more impressed by all you have accomplished. I wish I could be there for your grand opening!
    Tell Jess that I personally witnessed the antics of the old Mare, and she too was awesome , it’s just that she ” wore her wine glass like a wedding ring ” ( great line !)and was far too deep into a toxic relationship. Praise God that you are now where you have been custom designed to be ! Congratulations to you and Sanford House.

  2. Avatar
    Mark Goodson
    Aug 18, 2017

    Thanks for the reminder of what so-called “vacations” used to be like, Marilyn. In a similar way, I’ve spent the summer doing my own work. And it’s stuff I enjoy, stuff I’m passionate about.

    Very cool to see all that Sanford House up to. Spreading that message of hope on the Internet, and backing it up with the physical presence in the recovery community. Awesome stuff!

    • Marilyn
      Aug 22, 2017

      Thanks Mark. And thanks for all you do.

  3. Avatar
    Annie Ope r
    Aug 18, 2017

    I’m so proud of you! I’m really glad I didn’t see you in ‘those’ years because you are such a good friend and I remember the ‘pre-drinking’ Marilyn, not the active alcoholic. Your descriptions of it are great though and very helpful and inspiring to everyone, no matter what difficulties we are going through.
    The website looks great! I love the new Sanford House building! See you soon.

  4. Avatar
    Aug 18, 2017

    Funny you should mention Walden Pond, where my drunken self and equally drunken women friends would occasionally skinny dip on the opposite side from the beach, not far from the remnants of Thoreau’s cabin (and the railroad tracks), with unspoken thoughts of where the evening would lead if we didn’t pass out first or at least lose interest, which in my now-hazy memory from 50 years ago I think we always did.

    Come to think of it, we were probably high too.

    I’m now sitting on my deck by the Zig Zag River, rising from the Zig Zag Glacier on the shoulder of Mt Hood, refining our plans to get up Monday morning and hike to the summit of nearby Flag Mountain to watch 99.2% of a total eclipse. (If the highway cams show the traffic is less than predicted we’ll drive 8 miles south to reach totality but we’re ok with 99.2%.).

    I really can’t find much in the way of good memories about the way it was back then.

  5. Avatar
    Shawna Rae
    Aug 19, 2017

    How come you're not drinking?
    We broke up.
    I love this post! Marilyn, I spent some of my hazy drinking days in St. Thomas, so I understand that feeling of being only half-alive in paradise. The island living (or at least my island living) was so totally geared around drinking that there was no escaping it. People who want to drink year round just show up in droves.
    Thank you so much for the reminder! I am spending my summer writing a book. ; )

    • Marilyn
      Aug 22, 2017

      Thank you. And yes, island drinking is a “thing”. Congratulations and good luck on your book!

  6. Avatar
    max barth
    Aug 23, 2017

    How come you're not drinking?
    Because I'm an alcoholic my sobriety date is 11/27/2012
    Check out the free Sobriety Topic App that offers 100+ topics with corresponding readings from the Big Book, in depth passages, discussion questions, and more. http://apple.co/2vO3onk

    • Marilyn
      Aug 25, 2017

      This kinda’ isn’t a place to advertise, but it’s a good cause…

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