Flashback 5 years ago. July 4, 2005. One of the most pivotal days of my life. I don't remember anything about it, other than I drank more wine than usual because isn't that what you do on holidays? I remember I was at home in Snohomish with my then-husband and our dogs. Probably there were sparklers. That's all I can be sure of, except this: 5 years ago today I had my best drunk ever.
Because the next day, July 5, 2005, scared out of my mind and desperate, I walked into a women's meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous looking for a way out of the hell I was in. I didn't want to stop drinking altogether -- I couldn't fathom life without alcohol -- I just wanted to stop drinking so much.
And I did stop drinking so much, for a little while. I returned to AA 2+ months later and eventually stopped drinking altogether October 8, 2005.
Little did I know what real freedom felt like. Today I do. And it's so much more than not-drinking.
I know emotional freedom. Spiritual freedom. Freedom to choose what I do with my time and energy. Mental freedom. Freedom from the bondage of self. These are the real treasures. The motherlode.
One year ago today, my godsister Samantha got married. While I'm not pro-marriage by any stretch of the imagination, I was and still am gobsmacked with delight for Sam. Her husband Chazz is a terrific guy. His family embraced Sam wholeheartedly and lavished her with love and inclusion. It's what she's wanted her whole life.
By contrast, one year ago today I was nursing a growing suspicion that the relationship I was in needed to end. My then-girlfriend and I were incompatible in many important ways and I was beginning to wither and grow dim again. Since my divorce 3 years ago, I have positively reveled in my freedom to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want. I needed my personal / psychological / logistical freedom back. I took it.
Yes, I am infinitely grateful to live in a country and an era graced with many practical freedoms. But real freedom? That's an inside job.
Flash forward to today. This 4th of July I am spending with new friends in my new life. I won't drink too much tonight, because I won't take that first drink. I can 100% guarantee I won't do anything tonight I'll be ashamed of later, or wake up tomorrow feeling like utter hungover shit.
I will light sparklers. I will want to remember tonight.
(Photo Sparkler by lydiafairy.)