BY: Marc McMahon
I could not help but think about the topics of Independence and freedom on the days leading up to the Fourth of July Holiday. I thought about how the event came to be, the reasons we celebrate it, and what it means to me personally. Webster’s dictionary defines Independence as “The state or quality of being independent, freedom from dependence and reliance.”
It is a grand occasion for our country and all of us Americans to celebrate our independence and let freedom ring! To know a freedom and a democracy unlike any other government in the world. A society with more rights than any other, thanks to the Constitution.
As I thought long on the topic I came to a couple conclusions. One is that we who live in the U.S.A. although free; share varying levels of freedom. Many of us, especially those of us who have a Substance Use Disorder know a freedom that is not exactly free. In the sense that we may have succeeded in gaining some sobriety but there is always that imminent threat lurking about seeking to steal it from us, so it can once again lock us back in our own prison.
So my question is really how free are we? Are we truly independent? Are we actually living free of dependence or reliance to anything as Webster’s definition outlines independence? The answer for us in recovery, in my opinion, is a resounding No! We do not.
I will say this though, I believe that we as a group probably are as thankful if not more so than most people for the freedom that we do earn though, believe that. For some of us, this limited level of freedom doesn’t seem to even have any limits at all. I’ll explain, if we have been addicted to something ever since we were 12 or 13 years old then this, although unlike how most people live their lives, is our normal.
If we cannot remember a freedom any greater than what we have been experiencing, then at times we may not even realize we have been missing anything because our normal has remained the same. But I noticed after I had tasted the freedom offered by sobriety that returning back to using although my unfortunate choice during a relapse caused me to notice the obvious grasp that addiction has on us and how much of our freedom it actually takes.
It takes a major portion if you sit down and play the tape all the way through. Living life this way is odd because you know it is not the norm, but since it’s your norm you manage it the best you can and try and function in a completely free society. With only this limited amount of freedom, trying not to let people notice it bothers you.
Or maybe I should ask you, have you ever thought about it? Does it bother you? I had never given it much thought prior to this fourth of July but I mean ya I guess in a way a person could deem it as unfair and go on one hell of self-pity party with it. Get depressed and see no good in life anymore if they chose, but shoot, we all know how well that works so let’s not go there.
Ask around I’m sure many have already tried. God knows my self-pity party one time got so raging it almost ended in a successful suicide. Ya, I don’t attend those parties anymore. There was a time though when self-pity was a favorite weapon to use by my addiction, especially early on after it had been a few years and I realized I could not stop using and I wanted to desperately.
That period of time in my life, probably a good 10yr stretch of feeling completely helpless at fighting and winning this battle. And the things I would do to get whatever I needed in order to get high, rendered self-esteem at a hateful level. A story all too familiar I know.
We in recovery may not know that 100% freedom as our founding fathers may have but I know this, it doesn’t hold us back. As a matter of fact we who find sobriety may enjoy a life 100x more meaningful and satisfying than any normie ever could. Freedom, just a technicality;
Sobriety, that’s where our true freedom lies.
About the Author: Marc is a 48 yr. old Author, speaker, and soldier against the disease of addiction. He resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Marc’s hobbies include writing, Mt. biking, hiking, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. Marc is also the proud father, of one very outstanding young man. As Marc always likes to say “Be blessed, my friends.”