This year marks the 241st year of our nation’s independence. While my four and a half years of independence from the slavery of addiction pales in comparison, it is still something that is very much worth celebrating. In fact, whether you have four days, four years, or four decades of freedom from addiction, it’s worthy of celebration. And, just as so many other celebrations are cause for reflection, so is celebrating independence from addiction. This Fourth of July, as you gather with friends and family for barbecues and fireworks, take some time to reflect on what your independence from addiction means to you.
Reflect on your progress. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of life and forget about just how far you’ve come in your recovery. I know it happens to me all the time. But when I do take the time to reflect, I can see how much my life has changed and how much progress I have made. The same types of things that used to send me straight into a bottle no longer have that effect on me. I am better able to deal with life on life’s terms and handle situations in a much healthier way. That said, I know I am still a work in progress and that I have to keep improving to get to where I want to be. But every day I get a little bit closer, and that is worth celebrating. Appreciate your freedom. Addiction of any kind is a form of slavery. I know because for a long time the only master I served was alcohol. I was either drinking it, thinking about drinking it, or trying to recover from drinking it. It consumed almost all of my thoughts, only leaving room for the guilt and shame that it brings with it. When I think about the fact that I no longer have to live that way, that I can live a happy and free life, I am filled to overflowing with gratitude. As we celebrate the country’s freedom, take some time to celebrate yours as well. You don’t have to be a slave to your addiction any longer.
Keep your independence in mind. Independence is often something that is hard-fought to obtain. The battle for independence from addiction is no exception. I know a lot of people in recovery and I have never heard any of them say that getting clean and sober was easy. So, as you are taking the time to appreciate and reflect on your independence from addiction, don’t forget how important it is to keep it fresh. This is something that I remind myself all the time—that I cannot become complacent in my recovery. I have to continue to be mindful that I am an alcoholic in recovery and that it would be very easy for me to fall back into old behavior and pick up right where I left off. If I start to take my independence from alcohol for granted, I am putting myself in harm’s way, and I don’t want that to happen. After fighting so hard for freedom from addiction, I never want to lose it. Enjoy your freedom. Life is something to be enjoyed. Of course, when we are in active addiction, it’s impossible to do that. If you are fortunate enough to be in recovery from addiction, as I am, you have been given a second chance at life. Enjoy it! For me, that means remembering the challenges and tribulations I encounter today are nothing like the situations and emotional distress I had to deal with when I was drinking. You’ve probably heard it said that “my worst day sober is better than my best day drunk,” and that is certainly true for me. When I remember that and live my life accordingly, I am truly able to enjoy the freedom recovery has given me.
This month, as you celebrate the United States’ independence, take the time to celebrate yours as well. While you should never forget what it was like to be enslaved by your addiction, know that you don’t ever have to lose your independence to it again. It’s all up to you to make to most of your freedom from addiction.
By Jami DeLoe
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