After three years, I’m perfectly ok to be the only one not drinking on the Fourth of July. I have always been a little “different” in a crowd. I drank for years, merely to fit in, but you know how the ole story goes – I always drank too much, and there I was again, standing out like a moth at a butterfly gathering.
Last night I went to bed excited about the holiday without even considering what it would be like to drink, yet I was offered a brutal drinking dream, so here I am awake now shaking off the horrible feeling of relapsing, although it was only a nightmare. Those dreadful drinking dreams still come up for me, and I feel like it is simply my body (emotional, spiritual, mental) releasing old toxins – old energies and patterns of thinking seeping out of me in my sleep. In this dream, I carried a bottle of bottom shelf vodka and took sips out of it all day long, trying to maintain a buzz without getting too drunk. I accepted that I’d relapsed, and decided to forget about the recovery memoir I’d written – it was useless to anyone now because here I was drunk again. (Such a waste). People all around me knew what I was doing, and I still tried to hide the bottle while covering up my breath with gum, mouthwash and food. (What a high maintenance addiction – it’s so much easier to just maintain sobriety). In my drinking dream, I knew I was failing myself, yet I was stuck in the old, hopeless cycle. Upon waking up, I felt shame, fear, and then relief as I came to. Dreams about drinking are a reminder of why I do not want to go there again.
Two years into my sobriety, I decided to go completely vegan, so today I will probably be the only American at our campsite barbequing vegetables and drinking bottled water instead of enjoying a hamburger with a beer in hand. So what? I’m a little different – always have been. I’ve become completely comfortable with doing my own thing. I’m so incredibly grateful for my life. I love spending quality time with my family, especially my children, while being lucid. Staying awake instead of passing out during the fireworks, is so enjoyable. The sun is out and I’m not going to be dehydrated today because of too much booze. None of my differences take away from my experience of the holiday – in fact, my sobriety enhances the experience because I get to be all up in it! I get the full treatment of this fabulous American holiday. The aroma of barbeque, the sun beating down on my body, children’s laughter, adults relaxing, a spectacular fireworks show, the campfire afterward, and I’ll still be wide awake. I’ll close my eyes when I decide it’s time for bed. I am no longer a slave to the drink in my hand. I’m in control now. This is my life and I’m doing what I love doing, and being myself without shame, guilt, fear or self-destruction. This is a reason to celebrate.
When we were kids, we weren’t even thinking about anything but having fun during this holiday (during any holiday for that matter), so why do we think we can’t enjoy the festivities without a drink? That’s complete nonsense. If you feel uncomfortable today, recall what it was like to be a child during the Fourth of July and become that child again. If you are surrounded by adults who are drinking, find the group of kids and hang out with them. I guarantee you’ll have a lot more fun. I do it all the time. Find a way to enjoy this day and practice getting comfortable in your own skin. Soak it all in – be present and tap into your gratitude today. BE different. BE yourself. There is nothing more liberating than the gift of recovery, and after all, isn’t liberty what this day is all about?