Traveling per se is a great gift bestowed by God – some people cannot afford it due to physical or financial issues. Traveling broadens outlook, inspires, acquaints with new places, new people, and new countries. Whether I’m relaxing or working, traveling is a part of my life. I am so grateful to God for this gift. Why is sobriety required for me when traveling?
First of all, sobriety enables me to reach the goals and to solve the tasks that I set for myself at the beginning of each trip. It doesn’t make any difference if I am on a vacation or on a business trip. Traveling is meaningless without sobriety, and traveling in illness is a wasted time.
Secondly, sobriety helps me to enjoy traveling to the fullest extent. Nature, connection with God, unity with people, new impressions- all of those things are delightful in sobriety.
And thirdly, it does not matter why I am going somewhere. If I am sober I can serve people during the trip, be in the service of God, e.g., to support, to help someone, to fill the hearts of people who are as sick as me with the shine of God. In practice I noticed some pitfalls in any of my trips:
- There are thoughts that while traveling, especially if a trip is associated with relaxing, I am allowed to postpone all tasks including the Program, and to return to them after getting relaxed, just not to bother about anything. However, this is a way to relapse, so I need to intensely practice Steps Nine to Twelve when I am on vacation.
- Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with positive emotions that it feels like working the Steps is not necessary. This is also a lie. I am a sick person, that is why I can lose my emotional balance and feel like I have fallen from a high swing even if I was in a good mood. I get tired of permanent joy, positiveness, overflowing emotions, so I need God to restore my emotional balance. I really need Step Eleven and the renewal.
- Change of my usual diet is a trigger. I always eat at home since I need to cook for myself because of problems with my stomach. When eating outside I forget about my needs and start eating fast food, ready-made semi-finished food that is available in stores, salty, fatty, fried food. I start eating sweet food without limits, which is prohibited to me. As a result, I feel bad, become angry, craving for lust, feel anger, annoyed, and discomforted. This is a dangerous situation for me. Therefore, during a trip I need to be attentive to my body every single moment and care beforehand about where and what I will eat.
- Also, it is triggering for me to hear from everywhere pop-music that I do not listen to at home as such music is toxic for me. I used to feel ashamed and uncomfortable in such situations. Now I smile and ask to turn off the music. If for some reason I am unable to avoid toxic music I pray and while praying I watch the situation with “God’s eyes,” and perceive what is happening. “God, help me to treat all that music and people listening to the music with tolerance and compassion”. I ceased watching TV 10 years ago as almost 97% of information that I saw there was toxic for me.
- Sometimes I am surrounded by extremely toxic people who use bad language, act aggressively, and so on. I need to pray for them and for me in order not to react to their aggression and not to become a source of negativity as well as to avoid damage that I can cause to those people. In complex cases I call or write to my sponsor or to my renewal partner. Sometimes I ask for a blessing from sisters in the women’s chat. I do all those things even if I travel around my home city.
- One more important thing is that my daily schedule changes when I travel. I cannot get enough sleep, get lost in time or not notice that I do not follow the HALT rule. Here I need the Program. I need to stop in the overload of tasks, to slow down and to ask God what is the next step I need to take to live this day with Him.
During my New Year holiday trip I did not notice that I was breaking my rules day after day: I chatted a lot, went to bed late, ate too much sweet food, tried a little alcohol in order not to offend the loved ones and to please myself. I felt self-pity, flirted a little, did not practice the Tenth Step, did not call my renewal partner. By the end of my trip I rushed home to restore my sobriety and my usual way of life as soon as possible. But I need to live with the Program and not lock it in my apartment.
Moreover, I can take the Twelve Steps with me! The mood is quite important as well. For ten years I went to my father living in another region with the same attitude – I knew that I would have to listen to his lectures and blaming. Everything was predictable in those meetings. But lately I made a decision that the next trip shall be full of joy, love, acceptance and forgiveness no matter what. And so it happened! God went with me. I did not leave Him in my tiny apartment.
It is crucial for me to take my spiritual toolkit with me when I travel. During my last trip, my sponsor reminded me about being grateful to myself, to God and to other people. I always forget about that, so I can suffer from a lack of bread or complain that the sun shines too dimly. But when I write my gratitude list, I feel that life plays with new colors and my heart is filled with light and love. My Higher Power and my hope work wonders. No matter where I am, if God is inside me and if I apply the spiritual principles in all my affairs, then I am not only happy, but ready to serve God and to be useful to the people who really need that.