Summertime — my favorite season of the year.  I love the long hot days and feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin, turning it a golden tan.  I love hitting the water for the first time in the boat and feeling the waves rock us back and forth.  I enjoy the hot summer nights, sitting by the campfires, the flames mesmerizing us as they dance in the air.  The only thing missing is the ice-cold beer in my hand.

Summer brings on “triggers” for me. My mind goes back to digging my hand into the ice cold cooler, hearing the pop of the can, the first sip of the beer sliding down my throat, refreshing and delicious.  It’s the cherry on the top of a beautiful day.  This sounds so inviting and full of the promise of excitement and entertainment.

In reality my summer day would go like this. I start at breakfast sipping tomato juice with Vodka discreetly added to it.  While at the store buying ice for the cooler, I buy a fifth of peach schnapps to add that extra buzz to the afternoon.  The first beer may have been cool and refreshing, but the 12th one has me falling over as the waves rock the boat.   As for the campfire, my words are so slurred that conversation is not even possible.  I fall into my bed, waking up with an incredibly dry mouth, sick to my stomach and wondering what I did the night before that I’ll be embarrassed about, because I blacked out and can’t remember the entire evening.

For this alcoholic, I have to remember that reality day.   Those memories keep me from reaching out for that alcoholic drink.  I am so grateful today that now, instead, I reach for ice cold sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon and buy an ice cream snickers bar for that kick of deliciousness that I love.  My day is filled with pure enjoyment, and I know that I will fall asleep tonight — not pass out.  I’ll wake up in the morning — not come too.  I’ll remember my whole day and evening and feel healthy and ready for another day.

My summertime memories are packed away in a suitcase, stuffed in the back of my closet.  They are filled with many good times and also many sad times.  I realize that all of my life experiences have made me who I am today, recognizing and accepting that my past is a crucial part of my recovery.   Letting my shame go gives room in my new suitcase for adventures I will cherish and remember.

Summer is still my favorite season. I love the heat it brings. I enjoy all the summer events, but differently now, as I don’t count on alcohol to guarantee fun.  I admit that I still get triggered every now and then, but I play the tape from my alcoholic to my sober days all the way through and the triggers go away.  I see the new faces and the places that bring me joy in my summertime play.

Just because we sober up doesn’t mean our fun has to go away. It just means that the fun is different. Life is more real, complete and fulfilling.  So find your fun, while having a clear mind, a healthy body and a cleansed soul.  Tomorrow might be too late. Yesterday is gone. Today is all we have.