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Staying Sane on the 4th

We all know what the good ole 4th of July marks the peak of the summer and is filled with spectacular fireworks, sparklers, punks, community races, parades, pool parties and oh yes, the BBQs that inevitably come with oodles of food and lots and lots of booze…

While taking part in the party aspects of this holiday used to be my forte, my idea of fun has shifted quite a bit now that I’m on the other side of addiction. It’s taken on a calmer and more reflective tone and I have to say, I enjoy it a ton more now that I can a) actually remember it and b) enjoy time with my family and friends with more clarity and appreciation.

With this in mind, I decided to share my 5 sober strategies for co-existing with the craziness while still having a blast this week.

Be honest – Telling the truth doesn’t mean you’re signing up for a conversation about your sordid past with alcohol abuse, it just allows you to stay true to yourself, which is important.  Simply say when asked if you want a beer or glass of wine. “No thanks, I’m not drinking.” If any of you have friends like mine who haven’t seen me in years (I’m back home visiting Chicago, the drinking capital of the world) you may get the question “why not?” or “is there something you’re not telling us about?” Ah, the subtle implication of having a bun in the oven – making an awkward moment even that much more well…awkward.

I simply say “no, I’m just off the sauce” or if you prefer to keep it more general just say “I’d just prefer water or juice..” If further prodded, I often just quip “you know, no matter what’s in my cup, I’m having a great time!” I find this throws people a bit and offers them a glimpse of the absurdity of it all.

Name your poison – I’ve found that although it’s unfortunate that we even need to strategize about this, it’s helpful to have a ‘go to’ drink to request when asked about an alternative. My favorite is club soda and cranberry or any other juice the host may have on hand. If you have a quick and easy response, it cuts down on the discussion all together.

Call it when it’ time – In the spirit of having fun, there’s always the be-witching hour before the party reaches that point of intoxication where your friends get a bit more chummy and the pitch of the room increases, that you realize it’s simply time to go. It’s amazing how your sober self can feel that vibe approaching and a good sign that the end may be drawing near. The good news is – making an exit is easier this time of year where obligations are a plenty, so ducking out early is just a matter of stating that you need to “scoot” while thanking the host for a wonderful time. The added bonus is leaving the hangovers to those who truly earned it! 

Connect – The experience of the party can become so much richer in sobriety. Not only will you have a clear recollection of your conversations but you get to spend quality time catching up and getting to know others on a different level. The energy you feel from and about others shifts as well. What used to be fun cocktail party banter feels much more grounded and intentional. You’ll find yourself listening more deeply. It’s actually amazing when you think of the opportunities we have now to connect in more purposeful way.

Have a blast – The biggest mistake we make when getting sober is convincing ourselves that our social life will hit the skids. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The depth of fun you can have now is exponential.  The key to experiencing this is to simply breath, relax and let go. Release your fears and expectations and replace them with gratitude for being true to yourself and the choices you’ve made for your own well-being.

You’ve come a really long way to get here and the time is now to acknowledge your amazing journey and enjoy the ride.

So wherever you go to celebrate this year, grab your beach chairs, soak in the atmosphere and have a fabulous 4th!



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