Memorial Day is right around the corner. You know what that means! The weather is getting warmer, shorts are coming back in style, and we commemorate our fallen soldiers throughout history and the awakening of summer begins. The smell of fresh cut grass and BBQ’s, the beach, pools, and fireworks are all a commonality.
However, Memorial Day was one that I always found drinking was encouraged. Never mind the checkered table cloths, graduation parties, and hot dogs. I was all about the beer and the whiskey tucked away into the ice chest. I found it was a day that I could go full-fledged and bare-bones drinking and attempt to blend in. At the time, other people became excuses for me to drink, since all of them around me drank, and boy, did I make sure of that.
A Diluted Holiday
Most of the time, the festivities surrounding the day are often a far cry from what the day actually means. There are always a scattering of Facebook posts from friends trying to remind others what Memorial Day means in all the same ways people try to remind me the true meaning of Christmas. Memorial Day is about remembering the veterans and the US armed forces who died while serving. Today, as a sober person, I actually know what most holiday’s mean. However, Memorial Day has gotten diluted and I believe lost it’s true meaning, and it makes me pretty sad.
As a recovering alcoholic, at a time, I used a holiday that’s about remembering fallen veterans to remember nothing at all. I was celebrating excess and getting lost in myself rather than any memory or sense of national pride.
Today, I’m cautious of holiday gatherings. It was an excuse and a trigger for me at a time, and today I have a couple of alternate things that I do instead of finding myself wasted away at all day parties. Here are some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years:
Remember The True Meaning
Honor those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Just because it may feel like other people are partying the day away doesn’t mean that they’re celebrating the true meaning of the holiday. On Memorial Day, thank a member of the service, and take a moment to meditate and reflect on the freedom that fallen veterans and US armed forces have given to us.
Plan The Day
If you plan on going to a party, plan to spend time with family and friends who are supportive of your recovery, have an exit strategy if you attend a party of a BBQ where drinking and other drugs may be involved. Have an exit strategy. Drive your own car, or bring a sober support.
Create New Traditions
Make new traditions instead of those that involved drinking. Attend a ceremony, parade, or celebration. Be creative and make the day memorable with friends and loved ones. Stay in the moment. Be in the now. Enjoy and celebrate the gift of freedom and sobriety.
Give your time to a charitable cause. Do something for your community and feel even better inside. That’s what sobriety is about, right? If you have the chance, why not stop by the V.A?
Keep Recovery Your Priority
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you have the right to slack off on recovery. Be proactive with the choices you make and remember that holidays come and go, a relapse stays with you. Giving back on a sober memorial day is an incredible journey and as long as you stick to it one day at a time, it’ll be worth it!