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Your Own Personal Independence Day

07 - 04 - 2015

“I can’t quit drinking this weekend. It’s the July long weekend and there’s a zillion parties.”

“I’ve got a few weeks of sobriety but I am scared I’ll relapse on the long weekend. There’s alcohol everywhere.”

“I have a friend who aways gets way too drunk and I am scared to invite him to my party” or “I don’t know if it’s okay to invite a sober friend to an event that has alcohol”

There are 3 main readers of this blog: people who are in recovery, people who are considering recovery, and those “supportive normies” who don’t have an alcohol problem but care about someone who does.

Whichever category you fall into, I encourage you to declare today, July 4th, your own personal “independence day”.

If you are in recovery but feel triggered by the holiday weekend….(here in Canada we celebrate our nation’s birthday on July 1st, which fell on Wednesday this year – wah wah, always a bummer when it’s mid week – so I’m borrowing America’s day, which has a better name for my purpose in this post anyway)…Backyard parties, hot weather, fireworks…Okay sober warriors, let’s get you through the weekend festivities. Here’s what works for me: 1) plan ahead 2) stay motivated 3)gather support.

Plan ahead by packing your own little cooler with things you enjoy. In my drinking days, this was simple: wine. Once I quit drinking, I thought this meant if I would normally drink 8 glasses of wine I needed to pack 8 non-alcoholic drinks.  The funny thing is, you probably won’t want 8 non-alcoholic drinks in a single afternoon. One or two will suffice, maybe some extra water if it’s hot. However, you will want a number of pleasant little diversions because you will still miss the 8 glasses of wine somehow. So tuck in a few little nice things to treat yourself with when the pangs hit: a mini lotion to massage into your hands, a cheese string, eye drops, a KinderSurprise egg (sorry Americans!), a little book of poems to read in the bathroom – you get the idea.

Stay motivated by remembering all the reasons you got sober in the first place. Write your future self a note and bring it with you everywhere you go. I encourage people to do this in the morning when they are feeling strong and clear. Sometimes it feels like we are completely different people by 4 pm and opening that note can bring back the resolve from earlier in the day. Make a little photo album (on your phone or an old-timey real one) of things that matter to you – people and images that represent the reasons you want to stay alcohol-free. It might be something that reminds you of a future goal (a beach, a classy looking grey-hair couple climbing mountains, a yoga position), or a little face that warms your heart (human or animal). Go on etsy and order a personalized piece of jewelry (did you know you can have a bracelet stamped on the inside with a secret message no one can see? Maybe your sobriety date or a phrase that’s meaningful to you). Anything that acts as a positive reminder that being sober is awesome, recovery is leadership, and you are doing a wonderful thing by freeing yourself from addiction. Strong and proud. Declare this your own personal independence day. Own it, it’s yours.

Gather support and take it with you. Comment here and ask for encouragement. Take your phone with you and check back for messages. Twitter is excellent for following sober people who give one another encouragement. Start with @unpickledblog and @thebubblehour – we love to cheer on others! Search for recovery apps. Join a message board or recovery forum. That smart phone is more powerful than a bottle opener. And never underestimate the power of telling a friend or two that you are living alcohol free and would like their support. Think about whom to enlist – maybe not a drinking buddy, but someone who is understanding, trustworthy and supportive. I have a friend who always keeps weird non-alcoholic stuff in her fridge for me to try. It usually awful but it is so sweet of her. She says it is fun to shop for me when she is getting party supplies, and her efforts make me feel more accountable and cared-for. Even when you feel alone in a crowd, I guarantee that someone in that room would be glad to help you out by engaging you in conversation, getting you an n/a drink, or rescuing you from an annoying drunk.

If you are struggling with alcohol and feel that this weekend’s festivities give you a free pass to keep drinking, here is a loving little kick in the butt. There is always an excuse around the corner – your sister’s wedding, your vacation, your birthday. When all else fails, Friday night rolls around every 7 days and well, don’t you deserve a drink on Friday? We all did it. It’s a pattern. Become aware of it and break the cycle. I can’t think of a more appropriate day to get sober than July 4th. Independence (From Alcohol) Day.

And for you wonderful “supportive normies” who read this blog because you know and love someone affected by addiction…Of course you have already learned a few things you can do by reading the sections above intended for the people whom you support. That’s your nature – to pay attention and try to figure out how to help. That is a wonderful quality and we love you for it. Thank you for your caring nature and big heart. However…I also remind you to claim some independence for yourself today. Remember that on top of all the things you can do to help someone who is in recovery (or wants to be), you cannot change them. Their recovery is not your responsibility. Their choices are not your fault and are not a reflection of your worthiness.

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About UnPickled

I am learning to walk without the crutch of alcohol. As I begin I am 1 day sober. Gulp. I drank in private and hope to quit just as privately. The purpose of this blog is to help make me accountable - just by following you will give me enormous support and encouragement.

Posted on July 4, 2015, in Building a Support Network, Early Recovery, Getting Sober, Holidays and Special Events, Insights and Lessons, Insights for Supporters, Life After Alcohol, Long Term Recovery, Marriage and Alcohol Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. I have reached that place in my life where I truly have come to terms with the fact I have a problem with alcohol. And by “problem”, I mean, I drink TOOOO much. I’m sad that I lied to myself for so long because I KNEW it was a problem, but, like I’ve heard so many people say, I told myself “I can just quit whenever I want… and I WILL… Monday.” And then I tell myself, but, this week I have bunco, or my husband has his guy’s night, or my friend is coming over and this weekend we’re going to so-and-so’s or it’s a holiday, yadda, yadda, yadda. Well, a month or so ago (the day I found this blog!) I had undertaken quitting… for two weeks, just to see if I REALLY had a problem. I made it those two weeks and then thought “See! I CAN do it, so now I know and I can go back to drinking. But I’ll only have a little. And only on the weekends. And… and… and…” So, here I am, drinking the same as I was and feeling absolutely GUTLESS and GUILTY and SCARED out of my mind. Each weekend I say “Okay! Last weekend to drink! And I won’t drink during the day (I never do that during the week, just weekends)! And I CANNOT wait for Monday so I never have to be sick, or hungover, or try to remember what I did/said when I blacked out, or have to check my emails, texts and Facebook to see what stupid thing I said, or worry my husband is finally going to give up on me or my daughter is going to tell me again how she just wants time with me in the evenings but all I do is watch TV (she is just starting to grasp the drinking thing I think, but we never discuss it), and I drink ALL the vodka I have and vow not to buy more. And then Monday comes… it has the nerve to actually show up. Stupid Monday and its massive, overwhelming REALNESS and I know by 4:00 I’ll be stopping to get more vodka and I’ll explain to my husband that I just had a hard day, or we’re celebrating, or I’m tired/depressed/sick of my job, and only tonight and then not the rest of the week, and he’ll look at me… so lovingly, and he’ll say “We need to get this under control, okay? How about I don’t drink either and we’ll give it another go?” And I think I can. But I can’t. At least not so far. And I lie to myself some more and my “alcoholic me” says “Good girl… it’s okay… it makes it all okay to fail.” I keep thinking SOMETHING will happen to make me quit. Health issues? A new job? Moving? Something that shakes me up and gives me a reason to not do it? Because somehow “non-alcoholic me” just wants someone else to make it stop. My lifelong issues of dealing with my issues/feelings through eating disorders, horrible relationships (until my angelic husband appeared) antidepressants, alcohol, etc. greys my mind and I end up saying “See? See? I’m screwed up! I haven’t been able to get over any of these addictions or self-defeating coping mechanisms on my own, and nobody else can make me, so I obviously am unable to get “fixed” and I’ll just keep slogging through life.” So, I sit here, head pounding, knowing I told my husband Sunday night I hated how I feel when I drink and those two weeks of being sober felt so GOOD (they really did), so I’m off the sauce and back on the bandwagon, and yet, I only didn’t drink Monday night and then gave in again because… well, I don’t know. I’ve rambled on long enough! I just wanted to say that even though this is my life now, I come here and I read your posts and I know I’m one of MANY, not just one of me, ALONE in this. Many people have faced EXACTLY what I’m going through and they have fought and gotten better. I know what that feels like a little now and I’m determined to get there… starting Monday (LOL). Thank you so much for being here like a good friend who really does know what’s going on with “alcoholic me” and has a hand out to help me get up and moving forward. ❤

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  2. I have tried and failed a hundred times. I’ve gone 10 days or 17 days or 33 days in the last year, but always cave. I took the Independance Day initiative and only made it 3 days before a horrific blackout crash and burn on the 7th. Now I have a very hurt and angry husband and an elephant of regret sitting on my chest. I have to focus on the willingness. Your words continue to guide me,but I seem to be so weak. I’m sending this out to the community so I can make my intentions clear.This has to stop today. Forever.

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  3. keepingthegoalinmind

    I just wanted to do this so it was out there. I’m two days into giving up drinking because last friday night I finished off two bottles of champagne with my husband. He was playing video games so I went for a walk. I sorta remember talking to my best friend on the phone, I remember needing an excuse so went to the book store and bought a cook book…I don’t remember going to the bar and drinking two beers by myself. I don’t recall the conversations with the bartenders or the guy next to me. Thankfully, I had enough sense to walk away but I don’t remember going to the bank, walking home, going to the drug store for candy, getting home and going to bed. Blacking out is normal now but doing it by myself isn’t. And i feel just like a 34 year old fraud. I’m scared to remove the drinking because I’m certain the sadness is overwhelming. But what terrifies me is that night. where i was lucky and made it home okay. I’m just really scared. Thank you for giving me the space to type it out.

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    • Thank you for sharing your truth here. Be brave and face that sadness. It won’t kill you. It won’t make you black out and do dangerous things. It won’t hurt nearly as bad as you think. In fact – and I am sure other readers will chime in and agree – getting free from alcohol will give you the strength you need to face all those emotions you are running from. You are worth all the effort it takes and a much better life awaits you! You can do this!

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      • keepingthegoalinmind

        So, I lasted the weekend and a fight with my husband! Both big triggers for me… SEVEN WHOLE DAYS. It seems silly such a small number would bring me joy but it does. Just wanted to say thank you for responding and I’ve read the note a few times to feels strength. I have NO nails left (chronic biter with extra time on her hands) and a long way yet to go… But I’m ready to own my emotions – the triumphs and tears. Now I’m headed to the bank to buy stock in La Croix…at the rate i’m drinking this carbonated water its certain to drive up the price.

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        • Great job, keepingthegoalinmind! 7 days is awesome!!! I remember how good day 7 felt. I’m on Day 79 and am so thankful and greatful for the sober blogging world.

          I love the pineapple strawberry La Croix. Yummmmmmm.

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  4. Still really struggling. I can’t seem to find the strength. Annie x

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    • Hey Annie – thinking of you! What is holding you back? Have you tried meetings yet or connected face-to-face with other sober women? I wish I could wave a magic wand and make this happen for you and every other person who is struggling. Big hug.

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  5. Happy Summer everyone! At 78 days sober, this was my first 4th of July without alcohol. I didn’t have plans to go to a party. The few times I’ve been out in the last 78 days where I knew there would be alcohol, I’ve always had someone with me who doesn’t drink. Usually my husband, who is not an alcoholic, and who decided to quit drinking the day I did as support. It has helped immensely. In my early recovery, someone told me to do this and I’m so glad I listened. I can see me doing this for at least the first year. I now know I can be around alcohol as long as I have a non drinking buddy with me. I don’t trust myself enough yet to go it alone. On the 4th, for the first time, I was having an almost panic attack. It wasn’t like I wanted a drink, but I think that in the past, whenever I felt agitated or uncomfortable in my own skin, for whatever reason, I’d be waiting til 5pm to open a bottle of wine to numb it down without even realizing it. I knew I needed to go to a meeting yesterday and even when in the parking lot, I almost drove away but decided to go in. I don’t know what was up in my head but of course after the meeting feeling I felt great and grateful and ended up having an amazing rest of the day. Well, the problem was that I was “in my head”. Had to get out of it, and meetings always do that for me. I think for the near future, I’ll always attend a meeting on holidays. And when I can’t get to a meeting, I listen to a Bubble Hour podcast. I love it, the combination of meetings and the podcast really kept me going in the fist 30 days and I continue to use both as tools to stay sober. Its been up and down but I always remember I never want to go back to day 1.

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    • Yes! I am 1 month sober and my anxiety has spiked lately & I think it’s bc of what you mentioned. Back when I was drinking I always knew that I had evening cocktails to help me unwind & relax after a long or difficult day. Since I no longer have that misguided sense of security, it’s sometimes hard to settle down. I’m working on it though…nothing worth it is ever easy!

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  6. Lee Sandweiss

    Went to a July 4th party at the house of a family that always has a 4th bash. A table full of booze–wine and hard liquor and pitiful little non-alcoholic options. Basically only bottled water. Not very festive. I’m only one month sober, so it was very hard to resist pouring some wine into my cup, but somehow I managed to do it. Henceforth I will ALWAYS bring one of my non-alcoholic drinks of choice: Fentiman’s tonic water or Coke Zero w/lime. I really think it’s inconsiderate, though, that people throw parties and don’t have an array of non-alcoholic beverages. How hard would that be? Sheesh!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Cynthia Johnson

    Some anxiety, nervousness, and butterflies are a good thing! Why? It’s your heart and sould letting you know that your sobriety is important. GO but go with a rock solid plan….. Enjoy! Happy 4th everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yay for packing in things for our non-drinking selves to parties! And it is amazing how many fewer drinks there need to be when they’re not there for alcohol purposes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for this – it’s full of ideas, great for newly sober and longer term alike – I love it!! I’m from the UK though, and didn’t understand why kinder surprise eggs are illegal in the US? I bet there’s a huge black market going on, surely! Xx

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  10. I went to a party today where I knew no one except for the host. I don’t know about you but this could definitely cause a little social anxiety & in the past, alcohol came in handy in these type of situations. I have been sober for 553 days or 18 months & 1 week & yet, I still have anxiety going to parties & being amongst the “drinkers”. BUT, as I looked around today & saw that everyone was getting drunk as the minute & hours passed by, I realized how lucky I am to have chosen this sober life. I looked at everyone with amusement & then disgust. I am aware however that I was once “one of them” & try not to judge. Becoming sober has been the greatest & toughest decision I have ever made. I continue to take one day at a time & live a life filled with joy, peace & good health. So, cheers to all (with my bottle of water, of course) & Happy Independence Day!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Looks like America is really missing out without kinder surprise eggs! I may have to plan a trip to Canada soon 🙂

    Almost 6 months sober…..did the same thing this 4th as last year’s 4th minus alcohol….and I had a fabulous time! It will be even better when I wake up tomorrow without a hangover! Happy 4th of July, everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I can’t believe my country is 239 years old and we STILL can’t legally buy KinderSurprise eggs. (Great post!)

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  13. Thank you for this post! I was just going online to look for some support as the festivities get going. This was really helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Happy Independence Day!!! The freedom being sober is worth the fight.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Untipsyteacher

    This is a great post for our 4th!
    I hope it’s okay, I am going to link it to my post today, giving you credit.
    I guess it’s called reblog?
    Hugs from my personal freedom day!!
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I miss my family. Being sober means I have to keep clear of them. Rowdy drunks and passable functioning alcoholics though would admit and are proud of it. Finding it really difficult to leave them out of my future life.

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    • You don’t have to avoid them altogether- just avoid drinking situations. You can plan outings like brunch, hiking, or a movie that don’t involve alcohol. Stop by their parties, if you wish, but arrive prepared and don’t stay long. It’s time to redefine the relationship and create some new ways to relate.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Pingback: Reblog – Your Own Personal Independence Day | Remembrance of Things Past

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