In the fall of 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 because I didn’t think I could do this for the rest of my life.
By December, 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 beginning to interfere with my drinking. I started to know exactly what I was doing and how it was going to end up. In the Brooklyn meetings where I started, they used to say 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 because heaven forbid I missed something. I was just sure I could stay sober but a mere 20 minutes in I decided that a wine sprintzer would be okay.
Just one, of course.
Within a half hour I met a nice guy with a lot of money to blow and we spent the evening going to a lot of high-end spots and hey, I didn’t even black out. But there was no getting around the fact that by the end of the evening I had been drinking for about 14 hours straight.
I kept on with my “research” but by the time New Year’s got close, I suddenly wanted to spend it sober. Naturally, the guy from the Christmas party called about going out again to see what would happen. I politely told him no. Other friends invited me to a very tony party at the home of a prominent NY publisher that just about anybody else would have jumped at the opportunity to go. 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 I might not have been around to see 1986.
Anyway, I had this great 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. I couldn’t be alone. Thankfully, in 1985 we didn’t have cell phones so I couldn’t get ahold of my friends who had gone out already.
But there was one place I knew I could go, stay sober and be safe. A little hole in the wall, a 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 didn’t have to do this alone.
I still pulled an all-nighter til around 6:00 am but I did it sober. And 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. I’ve never lost my profound sense of gratitude because I never forgot where I came from and what brought me to the recovery rooms in the first place.
Sobriety has brought me spiritual and emotional healing, a dear family and lots of furry friends. Most New Year’s Eves I don’t even stay up. I’m happy to start a New Year healthy, sane and sober.
I’ve learned to handle life sober no matter what it throws at me. And that’s some kind of a miracle.