I’ve been wanting to sit down and write for over a week, but life in the desert has been manic, hectic and non-stop for weeks! I completed the theory assessment for my coaching certification, have been practising for my final coaching exam, planning the visit of a Recovery Coach to South Africa for a training seminar and working towards building the brand for my Recovery Coaching practice, and of course there’s been my 50-hour-plus job at the university. Needless to say there has not been too much time for anything else. But I am feeling invigorated and excited about life at the moment, especially because in 11 days I am flying home to South Africa for my “baby” brother’s wedding! And of course that is a wonderful reason to cross continents.
It’s my first wedding in South Africa for over a decade. Living and working abroad may have its rewards, but these often come at the expense of other things. And for me the big one has always been the weddings I have missed. Of course there have been other events like the births of my best friends’ children, but for me nothing quite compares to a wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the kind of woman who has been planning her wedding since she heard her first bedtime account of Cinderella, but I am a complete sucker for romance and well, a wedding day is about as romantic as it gets in my book. And needless to say, I cry at weddings, no matter how well I know the couple, and I do so unashamedly. The celebration of a couples’ love in front of their friends and families is a wonderfully joyous occasion, even the ones where the best man’s speech makes everyone want to crawl under the nearest table and the photographer starts to become annoying arranging everyone for hours into poses for group photos.
But the truth be told this will be the first wedding I have attended since I entered long-term recovery. Many years ago during one of my failed attempts I went to a dear friend’s wedding and spent the evening refusing offers of drinks from people I didn’t know. I don’t remember the evening being too difficult and at that stage I was in very early recovery, which sadly did not last. I always said when I stopped drinking that one of the things that I would miss the most would be champagne at a wedding! So the weekend after next will be my first wedding in this six-year recovery period of sobriety. It’s also going to be my first weekend away with the amazing man that I am dating, and the first time he’ll meet my family…and I mean almost the entire family. To be fair it’s not a very big family, but what we lack in numbers we make up for in rather loud, demonstrative behaviour. Most of the family talk loudly, drink heavily and don’t sugar coat much of anything. Luckily for him he does enjoy a good red, so I’m sure that’ll “ease the pain”. It’s also the first time in seventeen years I’ve introduced anyone to my family which is something of a recovery milestone for me too and although I am feeling a little nervous about how everything could go (mainly because my family can be a little unplayable at times) I am very incredibly excited about the weekend.
I do know that I am going to have to keep my wits about me though and remain together and level headed as the weekend progresses towards the wedding on the Saturday afternoon. There’s a kind of rehearsal dinner on the Friday evening, and since the celebrations are taking place in the heart of South Africa’s Winelands and the family and friends are all rather partial to a bottle or two of good wine, I just need to remind myself that I need to stay vigilant about my anxiety and try and try and stay relaxed and calm. In fact I think I’m going to be using every present moment trick and deep breathing technique I know… I know it’ll be an emotional weekend with lots of old friends coming together to see my brother and his fiancee tie the knot, on what I imagine is going to be a very special day. So the weekend is going to be full of recovery firsts for me, which is something to look forward to in its own right. Not only will I be celebrating with my loved ones, but I will also be having a quiet moment or two to celebrate with myself and how far I have come over the last six years. It’ll be wonderful to be there with a partner next to me, rather than the wild child who would inevitably end up leading many poor friends and relatives astray with my tequila drinking.
Being able to be there and remember this special time in all its detail is something that fills me with happiness and knowing that at the end of the evening my beautiful dress, bought specially for the evening, will not be stained or torn is also a very grown up thought. So I’m literally counting the days until I get on that plane and head home for what is going to be a weekend of wonderful firsts, including having a lovely, new sister, being asked to read a poem at someone’s wedding and not being the one to dance on a table!
Til next time