Chasing Freedom

I've said it before and I'll say it again: do it to be free, not good. Whatever "it" is.

Saying yes.

Saying no.

Standing up for yourself.

Forgiving.

Making amends.

Working out.

Eating more.

Eating less.

Moving your body.

Giving your body a break.

Taking your turn.

Letting this one pass.

Having sex.

Not having sex.

Praying.

Being quiet with God for a while.

Drinking.

Putting down your drink.

We all chase things because we want to be happy, and often, because we want to be good. I chased all kinds of things trying to grab at happiness: boys, clothes, running, jobs, grad school, etc., etc., etc., forever. I chased things because I thought they would make me happy and because I wanted to be good in the eyes of the people I thought mattered. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes my prizes - feeling adored, accomplished, worthy, sexy, loved - felt like enough. But eventually those things ran out and I was left with me.

I thought drinking was part of the happiness game. I thought drinking was what kept me good with my people, good with my work, good (and in) with the world. And then, it flipped. When there was nothing left for me in drinking, I thought quitting drinking would make me good.

So I tried to chase that. Because I really wanted to be good again. I really wanted you to love me. I really wanted me to love me.

What I didn't expect to find along the way was freedom. Freedom from alcohol, yes (and hangovers and shame and bad decisions and being controlled by something totally), but also freedom to be myself. Freedom to actually live my life.

Just three years ago I spent my 4th of July, like the 20 or so prior, drinking, drunk and looking like someone who was having a very good time. Some of those years, I was having a good time, and I would have sworn I was free, free, free as a bird! But I was just hiding. I was doing the thing I thought people did to have fun and behind the scenes I was missing so, so much. I was really missing my life.

I wouldn't have believed someone if they told me I'd find freedom this way. I wouldn't have even understood what that meant. But if you feel like you're carrying something very, very heavy on your back; if you have this idea (even if the voice that's speaking to you is very small and quiet) that there might be another way to live: listen.

This morning I woke up to birds sing-songing at 5:30am. I sat up to listen because the sound one bird was making sounded like a human voice saying, "Hey!" "Hey, hey, HEY!" 

When I sat up to listen more closely and realized it was, in fact, a bird, I laughed out loud and dropped my head back into my pillow. I grabbed another pillow and set the cool side on top of my head and smiled.

I have no apologies to make today.

I don't have to prove to anyone that I'm good.

I might go hang out in the sun, or I might stay in a little longer.

I will think of my girl and plan squeezes for her tomorrow, and fireworks.

I will have some more coffee and make a pasta salad and write some more words.

I will water the one plant I have.

I will practice the art of being free.

Laura McKowen

Laura McKowen, PO Box 315 , Swampscott, MA, 01907