I am proud to be an American! I serve my country through civil service, both through my job and through volunteering. I support the office of the President of the United States. I’ve always celebrated the Fourth of July, but now “Independence Day” has a new meaning for me.

My actual independence day was September 17, 2017, but I celebrate every day. I totally understand and appreciate the whole, “I can do it MYSELF” sentiment that our young country had, while being ruled by a tyrannical England. I get that wholeheartedly. I lived it!

I also currently fear for my pre-survior brothers and sisters who are currently being victimized. Independence Day can be a dangerous time for someone who lives in an abusive situation! Drinking, so much drinking, occurs during this time, which usually elevates strong feelings. I was abused by an alcoholic, so I know how alcohol can make a person bolder and more likely to strike out if they think they’re suffering injustice. Narcissists ALWAYS think that they’re suffering an injustice, so alcohol just makes it 100X worse!

When I was formerly in active abuse, we would do “family” activities during the Fourth of July. Go camping, have a 4th party — and everything had to be perfect, according to him. The Fourth of July used to give me anxiety, because no matter how hard I tried, it would never be perfect. I was the planner, the packer of food and supplies, and organizer of events. I always thought they went well, but there was always something he would rage about; always in private, though. He had to put on a good show for all of our friends! Ironically, they still think he’s great and most of them are no longer my friends. Independent, yet again, but I am 100% okay with it. Peace and freedom are priceless!

Everyone in our party would be drinking and drinking A LOT. I would have a solitary beer, but never more than that because I had to keep all of my wits about me. Oh, and I had to keep all my senses so I could keep an eye on EVERYONE’S kids. Our friends would get drunk and party and good-ole-me had to be the responsible one. That would make my anxiety shoot up even more. I had to make sure the kids were bathed in sun block and/or bug spray. I had to make sure that they ate (and I fixed the food, at my expense). I had to take them to the pool and watch every single one of them — putting flotation devices on the ones who couldn’t swim independently. I’ve even had to put a few little ones, who weren’t even mine, down for a nap. I never got to truly relax and would go back to my job mentally and physically exhausted, but not before I was berated by my abuser about what wasn’t “perfect” and how our friends saw how incompetent I was. REALLY!?!?!

I am now free from all of that and am currently enjoying a quiet, relaxing holiday. My personal “independence” has elevated my feelings of peace. I do love fireworks because of their beauty and sparkle, and enjoyed a lovely show last night, but discovered that the loud noises startled me a bit. I am more easily startled, but eased into it okay. I know the fireworks associated with the Fourth indicate our joy in being free [as a country], so I try to embrace that sentiment. However, I also keep in mind that not everyone enjoys fireworks, mainly trauma survivors, veterans, and pets. I hope everyone keeps that in mind. People in our neighborhood have been shooting them off since late June. I don’t want to be THAT person, but all during the week of the Fourth is okay, but after that I want it to stop. It probably won’t, but they have to run out of fireworks eventually, right?