Updated: Oct 3
My absolute passion is being of service to women in recovery and in helping them become Happy, Joyous and Free. My name is Maree, founder of Sober Retreats and I am a grateful to be in recovery since June 13th 2014.
What was it like?
I was 14 years old when I had my first bender. A couple of friends and I decided to steal some alcohol from one our parents and get drunk. It was a complete disaster and had its consequences. Even after that, drinking and getting wasted became a normal weekly occurrence for me and my friends.
I was an outwardly confident and attractive girl, but deep down inside I had huge self-esteem issues and I liked what alcohol did for me. I especially liked how it made me confident around men. I decided from a very young age that to be loved and accepted, you needed to be sexual with men. I had a Dad who didn’t want to be around me very much and another man who gave me lots of attention but touched me in a sexual way. That resulted in a messed-up outlook on relationships with men most of my life.
I thought I had it all figured out that sex equaled love. And so, I used drinking to fuel my promiscuous behavior. I did all this just to feel wanted.
This behavior caused major problems in my 20’s. I was known as the drunk slut and disrespected all over town. I was kicked out of places, blacking out and putting myself in frighteningly, dangerous situations. I could have been easily hurt or killed, but none of that seemed to matter. I walked the streets, went to bar’s alone, and got into cars with strange men. I even roamed around aimlessly in foreign countries, not knowing where I was half of the time. I was an embarrassment to my family and a worry to everyone who knew and loved me. I was a wreck when I drank alcohol, and I didn’t care what anyone thought for all the selfish reasons. It was my way or the highway! I never knew when to stop and if no one wanted to party, I would do it alone. In retrospect, my angels really had my back because I took some great risks with my precious life.
In 2013 after a failed marriage, due to my messed-up behavior, I decided I was going to move to Bali. I have tried many times to give up drinking, swearing to myself and my family that it had to stop. I think I knew when I was in my early 20’s that I had a problem, but I was too scared to quit. I thought my life would be over. I naturally managed to find all the alcoholic’s in Ubud, Bali, even though it was known for green juice and yoga. Funny to say. I continued to drink and blackout, which was followed by deep depression and self-loathing. I used to be a weekend “binge” drinker, but in Bali it changed.
After a 3-day binge session and after the depression lifted, I was up for another round by Wednesday. Things were getting much worse!
One night I went out to dance salsa. I loved it so much, and I got to dance my ass off with this “delicious” Cuban man. Interestingly enough, I didn’t drink that entire night for some reason and it turned out to be such a blast. I remember going home and thinking what an amazing night. The next day I told my flat mate (roommate) how much fun I had without a drink. She was like, “awesome, that’s great.” The next night however, it was an entirely different story. I decided to go to this nearby hotel to have some wine. A place where a bunch of old alcoholics used to hang out and party. My go-to spot for obvious reasons. I knew I was always welcome there. I happened to go to a salsa class after that. I didn’t realize its was an intermediate session. Something I haven’t tried yet. So, I decided to have another glass of wine to give me a little encouragement. Needless to say, I ended up leaving. At this point, my desire to drink had kicked in and there was no going back. In my mind I knew I had to stop but the desperation and not feeling good enough was far greater. I proceeded to go into a 7/11, get a bottle of vodka mixer, and drink it outside on the sidewalk. I felt ashamed and a bit like a loser, sitting all alone beside the 7/11 at 5pm.
Saved by the bell, I remembered there was a small gathering in town. I was always going hard, continuously chasing the next drink.
At the party I saw a friend who was always up for a good time, but that night she declined to go to the next spot and get wasted. So, off I went on my own as usual, landing at some empty bar with only a few tourists. I told them my normal sob story and they bought me drinks all night. Even they left to go home at some point, once again leaving me to myself, followed by the bar staff kicking me out. And that was the sad truth of my life, driving off drunk on my little scooter while everyone is asleep.
The next evening, I had another conversation with my flat mate. I told her “I went on a bender” and for the first time I uttered the words, “I think I’m an alcoholic.” She was surprised, given the experience I had the night prior to that. Then she suggested I go to the AA roundup convention in Bali, which was ironically going on that weekend. She was also a member of the fellowship and encouraged me to attend. Before I knew it, I booked myself a ticket to the event and dinner. I grabbed a dress, shoved it in a plastic bag and drove off to the hotel. I couldn’t find it for the longest time, and just when I was about to give up and turn around, there it was, right in front of me. I had nowhere to hide!
That is the day my life changed forever.
I went to a couple of speaker meetings and then it was time for the main event and dinner. I sat in a room full of people, for what I know now was the “sobriety countdown.” I had absolutely no idea what they were doing, but I was getting really into celebrating people’s recovery time. I remember thinking how cool that was. I turned around to my flat mate and said, “do you think I should get up at 2 days sober” and she casually said, “up to you babe.” They continued to call each number until they said, “who has 2 days?” and I stood right up. That was the moment I fully surrendered. I call it my Hallelujah moment.
The tears just kept flooding my eyes, but I suddenly felt an enormous Peace come over me. The Divine spirit was with me in that exact moment and has never left me since. I was the least sober person in the room, but those people made me feel like I was the most special person in the world. I will never forget the love and support I felt that night. What a true miracle that was!
What it's like today?
By Divine Grace, I have been clean and sober from this day on, June 13, 2014, and I am forever grateful to AA and my sober community. I truly believe that my recovery was miraculous. It has changed my life for the better; I am now a respected member of my family and an inspiration to most people. My mother is often shocked and at awe about the things people say about me, her daughter.
I now live my life in service of others, giving back what I have been so blessed to receive.
I have authentic relationships and genuine friends. My spiritual life comes first; Love, compassion and kindness is my code. I always loved being around people. Now, that I have a clear mind with a real purpose and direction in life, I get to help people in the most positive, impactful way.
In 2019, I decided to put two of my biggest passions together, travel and recovery. I created Sober Retreats, specifically for my sober sisters. I feel privileged and honored to bring these women to Bali and India. I love to see them heal and evolve through these transformational retreats. Sober sisterhood couldn’t be more magical there. How can I not love what I do?
Sobriety is the only life for me now and the only way forward. I can absolutely conquer anything in life without needing a drink. I no longer chase anything outside myself to fill up the void. I know without a shadow of a doubt, the only place to find love, is and will always be within me. I am a complete and perfect part of all that is, and I am enough. Right here right now, we are all loved beyond measures.
Look within, not without, and know that there is a more blessed way to enjoy this human experience we call life.
Be blessed and be a blessing! Namaste.
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You can also find me on Instagram @soberretreats – I am always wide open to working with other sober leaders/groups to bring retreats to Bali or India. So, if you are interested, we can host a fabulous retreat together.
Let’s chat! You can Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would absolutely love to meet you on this beautiful journey of recovery.