Editor's Note: This is the final part of a two-part series Jana Greene wrote about how she handled special occasions like the recent Super Bowl before and after her sobriety. Read the first part here.
It’s been more than 12 years now since I’ve had a single drink at a “Special Occasion” celebration, and the irony is that sobriety makes every day a special occasion. Every day in recovery reminds me of all the things I don't miss from those days of addiction.
I have been fully present, for instance, for every Halloween since my children were six and nine years old. In all those Halloweens, I took them trick-or-treating clear-headed after helping them into their costumes. I was there to paint whiskers on the “kitty cat” or curl the hair of a "princess", make caramel apples and remember their plastic orange pumpkins until they graduated to the pillow cases to gather candy. My memories (and theirs) are of wonderful mother/daughter time that I hold dear. And with no sippy cup of wine for mom, everyone holds them much dearer.
Thanksgiving and Christmas have become about what they are: Special Occasions to thank the same Highest Power who keeps me sober and wish him a Happy Birthday with my whole heart. At family functions, I simply stay away from alcohol like every other day, and if the stress becomes too much, I take a break and ask God for help.
There are so MANY things I don’t miss about drinking at Christmas time! Hangovers on Christmas morning, made more hellish by screaming, happy children. Oh, and not being able to focus on those screaming, happy children because you are hung over.
Hangovers – all of them after ANY occasion…I do not miss those in the least!
What can I say about New Year’s Eve? As it turns out, the New Year STILL COMES IN if you are not sipping champagne! Who knew?
And the Super Bowl? Instead of using the yearly turf-off as an excuse to drink, it's now all about the chips and dips for me. Yes – the Dips: Guacamole, Chili Cheese Dip, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Buffalo Chicken Dip (you get the idea). I don’t even MISS the beer, and I don’t even pretend to follow the game. I may be disinterested in the extreme, but my plate is full of chips, crackers and savory, cheesy dips.
What about the other Special Occasions on the calendar?
Valentine's Day? For others, it may be a great occasion to share a bottle of wine with their sweethearts. But I won’t miss it…my Sweetie will share a box of chocolates with me instead....and time, which is more precious than Cristal champagne.
Easter? An awesome day to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. And to thank him for resurrecting my life in such a transforming way.
The Fourth of July? Barbecues and beers go together, right? It turns out that barbecue does just fine with a cold can of Diet Coke.
In giving up alcohol, what have I gained?
Peace with myself
Clarity to know what I did/said and how I behaved, on the next day.
Health that is being restored, mentally, physically and spiritually.
As it turns out, it’s not about what is going on around me, but about being okay in my own skin wherever that might be….whatever date might be on the calendar.
Pass the seven layer dip. It's Tuesday, after all.