Thanksgiving is upon us and it’s got me thinking about gratitude and what it means to be home. I haven’t been home in awhile.
If I’m being honest, the word “home” is something I’ve been navigating for the better part of two decades.
They say “home is where the heart is” but I’ve left mine laying around carelessly over the years. So I moved around. Different coasts, a new country altogether. It was my way of hitting the reset button without doing the deeper work of healing what had me running in the first place.
And what I’ve realized is that home is wherever you find peace.
Earlier this summer, I began to feel restless. I’d been abroad for five years and a lot had happened in that time. I got married, got sober, relapsed, got sober again, and then pregnant. The person who entered the UAE in 2014 did not leave it in 2019.
So in that regard, I have plenty to be thankful for. That country broke me down the rest of the way so that I had no choice to but to rebuild. It gave me space to do that too.
But it wasn’t home.
In the hot months, I found myself stuck indoors and at the mercy of air conditioned spaces. Fine for me, but torture for a rambunctious two-year-old. My husband worked long, stressful hours, and I increasingly caught myself feeling useless (and broke).
Every day was the same. I entered into a tedious cycle that had me retreating further into a messy inner world.
That’s when a lot of bad habits started ramping up. I didn’t drink, but I ate. Boy, did I eat. And I found a new addiction to take up real estate in my brain: sugar.
And the boring truth of this behavior is that it was my way of hiding from that deeper emotional work I used to drink away. We are creatures of habit after all.
It became clear to me that our time abroad needed to end.
I wanted to go home.
Taking A Leap Of Faith
I understood several things by the end of the summer: I needed a change, I wanted my daughter to grow up close to family, and I needed a new path forward in life.
Initially, my plan was to throw myself into this blog full time and help support my family through my writing. I succeeded in the first part, but not so much in the latter.
And I was okay with that because my primary goal was to be of service to people and I think I’ve succeeded in that as well.
But how was I going to pay the bills?
I wouldn’t call myself a person of faith, but I dabble.
I just don’t know what I’d call my personal viewpoints on God, higher powers, and the like.
But in a lot of recovery work, there is a big emphasis placed on higher powers and at some point, I decided to let go of my hang ups with that and made prayer a daily habit.
I have no idea who or what I’m talking to, but I gave it a go nonetheless.
And I asked for guidance.
Here I am with no job and no desire to go back to a traditional one (if I’m being honest). I started looking at potential roles I could be interested in where my mother lives and became utterly depressed by the salary range.
I began thinking that “going home” may not be feasible.
And then it just so happened while looking for videos to add to a Soberish post, YouTube recommended a completely unrelated video from The Breakfast Club that caught my eye.
The guest on the show was an entrepreneur named Mark Whitten. He talked about the kind of business he’s in, how he got started, and what it’s been able to do for his life and I lit up.
I want to do what he’s doing.
Reigniting The Spark
I threw myself into learning everything I could about his business.
I read books, joined facebook groups, attended YouTube university. And I started doing some of that deeper emotional work to combat all those nagging thoughts of self-doubt and limiting beliefs.
These are the same little monsters that used to crowd my brain in my drinking days. The voices that laugh at your ideas and tell you that you ain’t shit. And you agree, so you drink. Or you give up before you start.
Do you know how many grand ideas I’ve bailed on in my life before I had so much as dipped a toe in the water?
I decided that no matter what, I was going to try.
And here’s the thing about trying something.
We often think that by learning about it we are trying. You listen to podcasts, follow people who do what you want to do, read, do all things to lay the foundation, but you don’t actually take real action.
The ability to convince ourselves that we will fail at something without ever really trying it is as comical as it is tragic.
So for me, trying meant I was going to get out in the world, shake hands, have awkward conversations, hand out business cards, and make real-life mistakes all in the name of building towards something bigger.
So that’s where I’ve been.
A little over a week ago, we packed up our bags with as many things as we could take and hopped on a plane to head home. The business I’ve been getting so passionate about is only possible back home in the US, at least initially.
And I was going to do it.
I made a choice: I could sit in Abu Dhabi learning about the business and playing make believe in my head or I could take a leap of faith and actually do it.
My mother has graciously opened up her home to us for as long as we need and we’ve adopted it as our own. She is living her best grandma life and my daughter is adjusting to all the changes with her usual happy wonderment.
I’ve set up my LLC, thrown up a website, and, next week, will start taking real-world action, throwing my little dream together one day at a time.
I’m scared shitless, but also feel strangely at peace.
I have a lot of work to do. Like a lot a lot.
In true Alicia fashion, I allowed my inner world to get way too out of hand the past few months.
If you ever catch yourself deviating from your routines and retreating into mindless activities like scrolling on your phone and ruminating for hours on end, check yourself immediately.
The spiral is real and it is swift.
Allowing new, fragile habits to crack under the weight of your own bullshit is an immense disservice to yourself. Life is too short.
I came home a bit in pieces. But I’m reassembling myself a little each day.
And I’m grateful.
I’m grateful because I have a mother who opens her home to me and my family without a second thought. I’m grateful for the little nest egg that is allowing me to throw myself wholeheartedly into this new venture. And I’m grateful for whatever cosmic power that intervened and helped steer my ship in a new direction (even if that power is just pure chance).
Our First Thanksgiving Home
On Thursday, my family and I will be celebrating our first Thanksgiving together at home. Later this morning, I’ll go grocery shopping with my mother for all the recipes we plan to make. We’ll load up our carts and plan out who’s making what.
On Thanksgiving day, we’ll head to my aunt’s house and I’ll see cousins I’ve not been around in almost 25 years.
And it will be good.
Don’t be afraid to go home.
Home can be complicated for a lot of people. But if you have a place where people are ready to embrace you with open arms, don’t be afraid to let them.
We’re in a new city and state (my mother no longer lives where I grew up). Everything is different from what we’re used to. But I’m not about to let my head explode trying to pick apart the choice I’ve made.
For now, it feels right.
I’ve got love and support here, as well as new opportunities, and I am so grateful.
If you find yourself given half a chance to start over and build something better for yourself, I recommend taking the leap. Not everyone gets these opportunities.
Do it even if it scares you.
I’m also so grateful for this community.
Soberish is going to continue as normal, but please forgive me if I’m not able to keep up with a regular posting schedule in the immediate future as my family and I work on getting settled.
The last year has been such an incredible and humbling experience. Thank you all for sharing your stories with our Soberish community and being a part of this online family.
For those who celebrate, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.
And for those who don’t, I wish you a proper Sunday roast to fill your hearts and bellies.
If you’re struggling with navigating Thanksgiving and your sobriety…
Check out this post from last year about dealing with the holidays and maintaining your sobriety. It has lots of useful tips for handling all the holiday dramas that make you want to drink.