You don't have to drink this Independence Day weekend

coaching early recovery mindset shift recovery Jul 03, 2022





I will begin with a story that is unfolding in front of my very eyes as I type. It’s July 3rd, Independence Day weekend, and people are ready to celebrate.


I stop as I type this and wonder how much there is to celebrate about being American these days, but that’s just my musing and I will have to put it down if I want this writing to be about recovery. So there. Have put that thread of thought down. For now.


As I was saying, people are ready to celebrate. My (new) neighbors sure are. I recently moved into a new house with my partner, James. We are in a completely new neighborhood in Dallas. Both he and I were used to living in chic apartment complexes (the kind that have spin-cycle rooms and FOB-protected pools adjacent to the pet-washing station). We’ve never lived in a house. The one we could afford is far away from the chic neighborhoods in Dallas. We moved to one of those cool neighborhoods that’s slowly becoming gentrified but is still like a bowl of paella – a bit of everything all mixed together. I feel like I am living back home, as most of the people around me are Latinos, like me.


My neighbors are getting ready to “throw the house out the window” this Independence Day (meaning they are ready to go all out on the party). #spanishslang


As I sip my coffee in my porch, I see a lineup of trucks arrive. A colorful bounce-house is aired up, ready to be climbed, pinched, squealed at by little humans. Charcoal is tossed into grills. And then…a small army of men carry beer cases into the house. Four men, each carrying box on top of box of beer, doing what seem to be un-ending trips. So. Much. Beer.


I smile as I observe my own judgment. It’s funny how puritanical we become when we get sober. So much beer! She says, clutching her pearls.


My smile shifts from judg-y to real when I close my eyes and think back at my own beer-marinated 4ths of July weekends. Back when I was drinking (for those who don’t know me, I’m a hardcore alcoholic, garden variety) this particular weekend was the PERFECT weekend for me to drink. Why, Pamela, you are not even from this country? Yep, I agree with you.


Things didn’t really need to mean much to me (although don’t go getting all pearly-clutchy on me, of course living here and being an American by naturalization means something) – for me to adopt them as justifications for my behavior. Independence Day was the perfect opportunity for me to drink. Hard. Waving around a fist crying for My Independence.

I didn’t care about what it meant to you – for me, it was a deep cry of freedom from all the crap I had escaped from in my own country (such as the kidnapping and an oppressive male-based society) – so I waved my fist, rallied with your cause, and guzzled down cerveza Modelo (my favorite).



I thought I was justified – expected, even – to drink all weekend long. Whether it was at a pool party, a BBQ, or alone in my back porch trying the locate where the sky-booms were coming from - I was supposed to drink. Hard.


What I did not realize back then is that every time I drank, I was cutting off the baby-legs of whatever real independence I had.


  • With every drink, I had less understanding of the world (so I could not form an opinion of it, like grown-ups do).


  • With every drink, I had less grounding into who I was (therefore becoming this volatile, weird creature that reacted like an alley cat to everything).


  • With every drink, I formed a wall that stopped me from developing into an adult. Whether I was in my 20s or in my 30s, drinking was a barrier to my growth. For two decades, booze stumped my development.


  • With every drink (and this is the most tragic one, in my eyes), I stopped trusting myself. By force of repetition, over time I created a separation into who I thought I was (or wanted to be) and who my actions said I was. I did not trust (or like) myself. This meant I had to drink in order to forget this pain – therefore propagating the cycle that caused me to drink in the first place.


You see how f-d up this is?

The very same mindset that screamed “let’s drink to celebrate our independence!” would be the mindset that ended the day under a wet towel, gasping for air, wondering how this had happened - again. 


I thought I was claiming my / your independence.

I was, in fact, stating my dependence to everything that disconnected me to the world - and me. 


Damn. Ok. So…taking a deep breath now, and a sip of my now-cold-coffee.


Going there, even just through writing, is painful. I have to take a few breaths and lift my head from the computer to realize that’s not my truth anymore. I don’t live there these days. I have a journey behind me – and continue on it. It takes time to discover who I am these days without those old cycles of destruction.


As I get ready to start my day (yes, the hot Latin dudes are still bringing in beer into the party next-door) – I smile. I have a million ways of stating, claiming, celebrating --- or at least getting curious about what this Independence Day means. None of them have alcohol in them.


Are you getting curious about what this may look like for you? What this may mean? If the above is striking a chord in your chest and gut?


Good. It begins with curiosity. Ask yourself: Do you really NEED to drink this weekend to "celebrate"? Really? What is that actually doing to YOU?


I am here if you need to talk. My site is full of info and resources - curiosity feeds the cat. 


Besos – and happy INDEPENDENCE Day.





Yep, the beer in the photo is a delicious NA beer I am enjoying this weekend. 

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