Traditionally on this night I would go out with my brothers to the local bars in Hudson and get ripped. My eldest brother Matt would roll into town from New Paltz and out we would go. Since marrying Michele in 1998, this was one of the few nights of the year that I would go out drinking. I would drink and smoke to excess, ogle other women, avoid getting into fights, and often not remember the walk home. I would wake up at my parents’ house with a wicked hangover. I had skipped last year. I had stopped drinking last September and was 2 months dry on the sly (Thought I would quit drinking unofficially all on my own). Although I skipped the Thanksgiving eve festivities, I gave into having a couple of token beers on Thanksgiving with my Dad. I didn’t lose control that day but after giving in I soon was drinking regularly all through the Holiday season and into my vacation to Florida in February. When I came back in March, Celebrate Recovery was starting and I was joined up. After a short slip up 2 weeks into recovery, I have been sober ever since, just over 8 months.
So today is the day again, Thanksgiving eve, my brothers agree to meet for dinner and drinks before going out drinking. They know I’m in recovery and I was nervous about seeing them. I thought it would be weird. I just before pulling into the restaurant, I had that strong pull to lose control and had a strong craving for a drink, lots of drinks, and any drugs or women I can get my hands on. That “LET”S GO! ROCK –N- ROLL!” feeling. Good news though, it was only a fleeting momentary thought. Michele and I went in. My brothers, their significant others, and my wife had drinks. I had a diet Pepsi. We had dinner and some laughs. We had horrible service but over all a good time. My brothers left to go out on the town and Michele and I went home.
It was cool. They were drinking, I wasn’t. No speeches or pleas. Just some light conversation and catching up. No big deal.
I was talking to Michele about it on the way there and I said I had an impulse control problem. I said that I was trouble. I was joking and introduced myself to her “Hi, I’m trouble!” In the past I was full steam ahead into drunkenness. If there was an awkward pause in conversation I would fill it with a drink or two. Now I’m comfortable in my own skin. I sit. I listen. I relax. I’m at peace. I can talk about drinking and laugh about it but now it is like I know better.
In recovery I’ve said that I’m addicted to unicorns; I explain that I am chasing after things that don’t exist. I’m no longer a college student back for Thanksgiving break. I’m a 43 year old Bible College student, married, with children! I’m sure I could find trouble if I wanted to but I know that I wouldn’t find anything worthwhile. When I relapsed in early March, after 2 weeks in recovery, I just remember that I felt it wasn’t worth it. My relapse was anti-climactic. I didn’t even have that good a time. I felt like I let myself down and wanted to be right with God again. I got back on the wagon and haven’t gotten off.
I pray every day. I thank God for what I have. I ask for guidance, patience, and strength. I never feel alone.
I wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday.