My company recently hosted our first in-person happy hour in over two years. I approached the event with cautious optimism because I didn’t really know what to expect. A lot has changed since March 2020, both in the world and in my personal life.
In the past, I would order a bunch of yummy food and then watch everyone else dig in while I judged from the side. I’d save my calories for the alcohol so that I could get myself totally wasted. I figured that would bring out the fun Jason that people might like; the obnoxious guy who would often lie about who he was because he felt like a total disappointment.
This happy hour, however, represented my first opportunity to show up as my authentic self. The abusive relationship with alcohol is over. The relationship with food is improving. And the relationship with myself is healing.
It’s a new normal for me, which is terrifyingly exciting.
The happy hour ended up being a lot of fun. I never once felt the urge to drink. I was actually able to focus on the conversation rather than the food. Best of all, I woke up the next day without the hangover of guilt and remorse.
Remember going to a party as a kid? We were free to be ourselves and didn’t worry about the judgment of others yet. Acting silly was not just okay, it was expected. There was no temptation to drink alcohol because all we needed was that orange drink from Mcdonald's. And if someone offered you cake, then the only question was if there was ice cream to go with it.
That’s exactly what this most recent happy hour felt like.
When I think about it, that’s what my entire recovery process has felt like. I know I can never return to childhood again but as I continue to heal there is a part of me that is reconnecting with the innocence and freedom that was taken from me so long ago.