How Can I Celebrate Safely?
As alcoholics and addicts, many of us have always had a heightened relationship with both celebration and sorrow. The book Alcoholics Anonymous talks at length about how our typical behavior pattern usually went something like this: If we were low for one reason another, it was the perfect reason to seek out a drink or drug and drown our sorrows. But when things were great and we were happy, that was an equally good reason to drink or drug as a way of increasing or celebrating our triumph.
Being alcoholics or addicts, of course, we took these behaviors to extremes and usually went too far. However, in the normal course of life, we will find occasions worthy of celebration. We also find times when grief or sorrow is appropriate. Both of these events can trigger the desire to engage in our old behaviors. Essentially, they are so ingrained with our disease that they can trigger the mental obsession if our recovery isn’t on stable footing.
This triggering effect gives rise to the very common, yet absurd, fear that the fun stops when we find recovery. Nothing could be further from the truth! The fun doesn’t even begin until we find recovery. But there is much to explore as we answer this important question.
The Fun Doesn’t Have To Stop
In everyday life, there will be cause to celebrate and to grieve. That is life. Sometimes people without the disease drink or use substances when celebrating or grieving. This isn’t particularly abnormal behavior, except for those of us who are alcoholics or addicts. There was always a good reason to indulge our disease, even if we had to make it up or justify it by any means. We must remember that our alcoholism and addiction makes us different from our fellows. Doing what they do may cause them no trouble, but it could literally kill us.
Extended over time, this disease-directed pattern can warp our relationships to the very normal human experiences of celebration and sorrow. Without being conscious of it, many of us also tend to think very linearly about these two things, as if there is only one or the other. The absence of celebration is sorrow and vice versa. But that is simply not true. Life is not either a party or a funeral — there’s a whole lot of life to be lived in between those two things.
The fun doesn’t stop when we enter recovery. Life doesn’t suddenly become a boring procession of uptight teetotalers. The Big Book flat out says that we are not a glum lot, we simply insist on having fun. Recovery wouldn’t yield us much of a life if it wasn’t a fun life. The Big Book also says that living the recovery program gives us a life that is happy, joyous, and free, which sounds like a blast!
Another very important issue the Big Book talks about is emotional balance. We learn how to live on life’s terms, we feel our feelings, and we don’t seek to escape them because we are able to handle them. When it’s time to celebrate, we do so with our full presence and our whole heart. But we don’t live to find excuses to celebrate to justify other hidden behaviors. We just live our lives with joy and presence.
This balance goes perfectly with the position of neutrality to drink or drugs. As long as we maintain our spiritual connection to our higher power and participate in our recovery on a daily basis, we can enter a place of freedom where the drink or drug never even crosses our mind. We certainly don’t need it to make a celebration better. We can celebrate sober and have more fun than we ever had before.
There’s a lot of information to process above, but what it really boils down to is this: in order to celebrate safely in recovery, we must be actively engaged in the lifestyle of recovery and we must be working through the 12-Steps. We must be fully involved in the work of recovery. Taking the 12-Steps will yield the safety nets we need to enjoy life fully without risking our recovery. If we remain active in the spiritual action and close to our higher power, we will often be granted the daily reprieve, the position of neutrality, emotional balance, and the moment of clarity to make good decisions.
These things amount to freedom from the mental obsession, avoidance of triggering the physical allergy, and the power of healing our spiritual malady. However, the action on our part is vital. We must remain connected to our higher power and our recovery community, we must attend regular meetings, and we must actively work all 12-Steps in all our affairs. This is no small order, nor is it impossible. The effort put towards living this way practically promises a full life of happiness, freedom, and joy in return.
There will be times to celebrate, and they will be wonderful — especially when we are emotionally balanced, spiritually fit, and engaged in our recovery. We will be able to celebrate things maximally, with all our hearts and with present, clear minds. And when the celebration is over, we will be able to lovingly return to our beautiful lives without wishing for more. However, should we be on shaky ground and a celebration comes up that is necessary to attend, we can always consult our sponsor or a close recovery friend, bring someone from the fellowship with us, or modify our participation so we don’t risk our recovery.
Alcoholism and addiction are a disease that dominates every part of a person’s life. The sufferer suddenly finds the disease in control of all their actions and decisions. No area of life is left untouched. Emotional and mental health issues often accompany the disease as well, causing heightened and destructive behaviors. When grieving, the sufferer will drown their sorrows with drugs and alcohol in a dangerous quantity and far longer than anyone else. When celebrating, the sufferer will indulge their disease with the same veracity, often going too far and ruining the celebration by being too intoxicated. Luckily, there is a solution that can return those who are lost to the disease to a state of life better than they ever knew before. Emotional balance, abstinence, spiritual growth, maturity, and genuine joy are some of the results of this solution. The 12-Step program of spiritual action is available to all who earnestly want it. At Jaywalker Lodge, we believe anyone can recover — because if we were able to, then so can you. Let’s do this together. Call us now at (866) 529-9255.