Happy Fourth of July. Thankfully, holidays are different for me these days. I am not sure how many alcoholics, practicing or not, would relate but for me holidays once brought relief. And not for the reasons you might think. In my drinking days my near-constant companion was dread. There was this gnawing fear of being found out, held to account, sleeping through an appointment, being served with a summons or called upon by the IRS. In other words, almost every day of my drinking life was filled with the fear of reckoning with the consequences of my actions, or lack thereof. Holidays seemed to bring a temporary respite from these dreaded concerns, if only for a day.
When I lived in Washingtion it was an ABC state and liquor stores were always closed on holidays and Sundays. So when Independence Day fell on a Saturday, you really had to be on your game. This meant going to the liquor store on a Friday – normally an extra-busy day – and waiting. Sometimes the lines would reach the door. Most shoppers were solitary and if any made eye-contact (which was rare) there was exchanged a shared sense of desperation. Sure, there was always the jovial guy filling up his cart for a “party”, but most of us miserable sots were just trying to make sure we made it till Monday. It was a peculiar sense of isolation being in a room full of compatriots. But as associations go, active alcoholism is a slim reed. Once provisioned, the only thing left was to go home, close the shutters, turn off the phone, pop the cork and let that suspension of fear release me.
Happily, this is now just another day – my fears proportionate and better managed.