I can’t explain it. I can’t share the exact feeling, but I can taste it and feel it. I’m back home. Not the home where I grew up and lived a few miles from my siblings and my parents, nor my most recent home in Naples, Florida — but the place where I got sober and where I formed an entire new life that gave me freedom from alcohol and drug addiction. The place where my black and white life morphed into the yellow brick road — the place where a miracle happened.
I moved back home to North County, San Diego; the picturesque stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway from Del Mar to Oceanside, CA – where the hip, funky and beachy surfer vibe towns of Solana Beach, Cardiff by the Sea, Encinitas and Carlsbad settle. When I moved to La Jolla in 1999, to futher my career within the Biotech sector, I had no idea how my life would turn out. All I knew was that I wanted to live in this gorgeous seaside town and I was eager to live in a town where I could buy wine on Sundays at the grocery store! Moving from Pennsylvania, the only alcohol you could purchase on Sundays was by going to the bar. But here in La Jolla, I could buy wine, beer and spirts on a Sunday! This made it all worth it! Yeah, I was a bit of an alcoholic! My recreational cocaine problem also increased and within a week, I made friends that partied the same way I did. I was hooked. Needless to say, I spent a few years partying non-stop and barely enjoyed the beach, the sunshine and all the fruits this California region offered. I took it all for granted.
In spring 2004, I received my 2nd DUI and I knew my life was pretty screwed up, but I didn’t know what to do. So, I did what any good alcoholic would do and I switched to box wine and if I had to go out and drive, I’d make sure I only had 1 or 2 drinks in me. I was thinking of possibly moving back East to just escape from my problems, but my lawyer thought differently. His daughter was a good friend of mine, and she suggested that I get a court card signed so the courts would go easy on me. I didn’t understand what she meant until she said a court card would need to be signed by attending AA meetings. I was pretty blasé about the idea and mentioned I’d go with her some time. She too was getting sober during this time and six weeks later I waked into an AA meeting in Encinitas and the oh-shits hit me hard and I knew. I had that sick feeling in my gut and the last thing I wanted to do was look at myself and take ownership for my pathetic life. I ran outta there and drank for the next week, and during that week I had my moment of clarity. I decided I may as well give this AA thing a shot – I had nothing to lose. Talk about making a rash decision – a rash decision that would turn my life upside down. For the better.
At my first meeting, I saw a former co-worker of mine and I’ll never forget what she said to me, “I came to this program to quit drinking, but it completely changed my life”. Changed my life – what did she mean? I had no consideration for the magnitude of this comment. Pretty soon my life changed as I followed some simple suggestions. I got sober with three other woman and within the next year I befriended a few other ladies and by year two I had my sober posse. I grew up with these women – and we leanred how to live our lives sober. These women all had amazing stories and colorful lives before they got sober and we all shared in our common peril. We connected, we spoke the same language and we all formed a bond like no other. Single and enjoying our new carefree lives we’d go to Vegas, Palm Desert, Conventions, Retreats and just LIVE – entirely sober. For the first time in my life I was truly happy.
Five years into my sobriety, my mother got ill and it was decided I would move back East to be with her. I remember sitting around a kitchen table with my posse and saying good bye to everyone and we were all crying and it really really sucked. I left a piece of my soul in San Diego that day and I never felt complete again.
I formed a life for myself back East and met my husband, landed some amazing jobs, was a sober daughter to my Mom before she passed away and I made new friendships in other Fellowships. However, I left my heart in San Diego and there was a void. Through the six years I was gone, all of us got married and I’d visit North County a couple times a year and it would be a bittersweet trip filled with group dates and one on one visits and each time I’d leave I’d shed a tear as the sadness lay there in wait.
Ten days ago, after driving for 5 days and 2,800 miles, I drove into San Diego and cried – the same way I cried when I drove away six years prior. However, this time it was different. I had a husband with me and it was now a new chapter for us – not just me. I still didn’t think it was real. All week I’ve been saying, “I’m here, I’m back home” while literally pinching myself.
Today was a normal Sunday in North County. I awoke, met a friend to walk the PCH stretch from Swami’s to Cardiff, hit a meeting and then went to my friend’s daughter’s Birthday party to enjoy an afternoon of friendship and laughs. Yeah, I’m home again and it’s only by the love and support of others that have carried me back home to complete my soul and let me breathe in the glory of North County once again. Thanks Ladies, you all know who you are.
Welcome back to your home. Your story is so inspiring. I too lost my mom to illness and was able to spend time with her sober prior to her death. It was an amazing gift. Thanks for sharing and can’t wait to hear more about your adventures back in San Diego.
Gena! Thank you soo much – it warms my heart to hear your thoughts!! Hope you have a great day and thanks for reading!!!