Here in Washington, DC we are getting ready to celebrate America’s birthday, also known as the Independence Day, or The Fourth of July. Of course with all the parades, street festivals, concerts, fireworks, and drinking, this one holiday for me, turned out to be the most difficult to get through and stay sober.
Back in my drinking days, the Fourth of July was one of the greatest days for getting totally wasted! With everyone else starting celebrations early in the day it was OK to publicly drink before noon, and be drunk way before the fireworks even started! On this day, no one questioned my excessive drinking, and it was quite acceptable for me to be way out of control because everyone else was doing the same thing – or at least that was what I thought.
I do not remember my last drinking July 4th. I believe that it was actually some nine years ago when I was struggling with sobriety. I do however, have some recollection of a drunk celebration during the fireworks, then getting lost, and having to find my way home alone, in the dark, and drunk. This was quite scary and NOT fun at all!
I do however remember my first sober 4th and it was not a very happy either. I felt really agitated and sad; I was not quite ready to give up my drinking life yet, but I was trying to stay sober. I sat in meetings all day long, one after another. At one of the meetings, I became angry, and outraged that I was “stuck” in a church basement while the whole country was partying! How is this freedom when I cannot drink and party like others! – I exclaimed. I felt like I an outcast and the only person that was not going to be drinking on this day. But guess what, I was surrounded by other people trying to stay sober and I did not drink!
It took me a really long time to realize that not drinking was actually freedom!
Today, July 4th is my celebration of independence from the cunning and baffling disease of alcoholism! This year again, we are going to a sober party, organized by our 12-step fellowship. Then we will be watching the fireworks show at the local community center. I am so very grateful for this amazing opportunity to celebrate America’s birthday, sober and present, with friends and family!
Here are the 7 Awesome Tips For Surviving July 4th Festivities Sober:
First of all, do not go! I know that this seem like the the worst option, BUT, I believe that this is the safest option. All the holiday parties can be very stressful especially to a non-drinker and specially in early sobriety. You do not need that kind of monumental stress.
- Go to a meeting! Hanging out with other people who are also trying to stay sober on this day provides great support! You can attend any Open meeting if you do not considering yourself a 12-step program member. To find live meetings in your area go to www.aa.org. You can also attend online meetings at www.e-aa.org.
- Start your own tradition! Do something completely different: go bowling, to the movies, or the amusement park, maybe a museum, or an art show. There are always plenty of other things to do besides drinking.
- Better yet, throw your own sober July 4th party! You can invite all your sober friends who I am sure are also looking for something fun to do sober. Then you can make teams and take turns playing all those awesome, old board games that you played as a kid! (I love board games!)
***For other things that you can do instead of drinking, check out: 100 Fun Things To Do Sober.
If you chose to go, go prepared! Think through being in a social situation where other people will be drinking and what you might do and say.
- Practice saying NO! Learn a few replies for the people who may be more assertive than usual. Check out: How To Turn Down a Drink with Confidence.
- Always have something to drink with you! (non-alcoholic of course.) This will keep others from offering you a drink because it will look like you already have one. Than you can say – “No, thanks, I already have one.”
- Arrange for a support friend! Having someone who you can text or call when the pressure gets overwhelming is a huge help.
- Have an escape plan! When it gets too stressful, leave. You can say that you are not feeling well or have to go to another event.
***For more tips on staying sober, check out: 10 Ways to Stay Sober at Drinking Events.
Most of all, remember how it really was when you were drinking, and that it really was not fun, and remain grateful for all that sobriety has brought you.
By quitting drinking, we are not giving up a life full of fun and happiness, we are giving up a life that was toxic and made us completely miserable!
In return, we have gained a life full of endless possibilities, real genuine fun, and memories to last a lifetime. We no longer have to live in the vicious cycle of alcoholism. Today, we can truly be free!
Sobriety is freedom!
How has sobriety freed you?
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