It was 1985. I’d been checking out recovery rooms for several months. I felt oddly at home but since I didn’t quite get the concept of doing it one day at a time, was not willing to commit to long term sobriety. (Don’t drink for the rest of my life? Say what?)
December rolled around. I had made a few half-hearted attempts to control my drinking but it always resulted in the inevitable all-nighter. But what started to happen was that my meeting attendance was starting to mess with my drinking. I started to know exactly what I was doing and how it would end up. I’d heard it said that going to meetings was kind of like being in the Mafia…it would be difficult to get out once you knew too much.
Office events were always bad news for me. Still, I felt compelled to go to the company Christmas party. I was just sure I could stay sober. 20 minutes in I decided that spritzers would be okay. Of course for me, that was just turning on the faucet. Within a half hour I met a nice guy with a lot of money to blow and while we spent the evening going to a lot of high-end spots (and I didn’t blackout) there was no getting around the fact that by the end of the evening I had been drinking for about 14 hours straight.
I don’t remember if I tried to stay sober that Christmas or not. It’s always been a tough time for me. What I do remember is that when it came time to start making plans for New Year’s, all of a sudden I knew I wanted to be sober. The nice guy with the money called about going out again. I politely told him no. Other friends invited me to a very toney party at the home of a prominent publisher. I also told them no.
I’ve often pondered why I just didn’t wait until after the New Year to start. It just might just have been that given my past history, if I didn’t stay sober that night there might not have been a New Year for me.
Anyway, it was my grand idea that I would just quietly ride out New Year’s at home. 30 minutes into this insane experiment I knew it wasn’t going to work, that I couldn’t be by myself and had to get out of my apartment. Thankfully, in 1985 we didn’t have cell phones so I couldn’t get ahold of my friends who had gone out already.
There was one place I knew I could go, stay sober and be safe. A skanky sober club in the East Village that I’d been to a few times. I hopped on the subway and made my way over there. Upon my arrival I was a little surprised at how many people I knew. I was greeted with much love and a gentle word that I should take note how many friends I had in the rooms already.
I still pulled an all-nighter (until six a.m. which is perfectly normal in NYC) but I did it sober. At the end of the night I was elated. No craziness, no regrets and when I woke up the following morning, no hangover. Maybe I could actually do this living sober thing and even like it.
There was still one more slip on January 4, 1986 but I’ve maintained my sobriety ever since. Although 2016 marked my 31st consecutive sober New Year’s Eve, I’ve never lost my profound sense of gratitude.
Sobriety has brought me spiritual and emotional healing, sane living, a dear family and lots of furry friends. I was asleep this New Year’s Eve by 9:30. I spent New Year’s day going to church, taking a long nap, doing some yoga and writing. I’ve set intentions for 2017. I do have concerns weighing on my heart but I know that with the help of God and the recovery principles that have been the center of my life since January 1986, I can handle life sober on its terms.
I’m slowly learning to recover out loud via my writing by the gentle encouragement from SheRecovers and the wonderful online community of women in recovery.