Monthly Archives: December 2013
Hello, my name is Al, i’m 50 and this is the best Christmas i’ve spent without my parents.
My parents both come from very close, traditional families and they bring that and more to the table during the holidays. Maybe because they take care of everything so well, i’m really good at enjoying what they do but not doing anything myself. On the years we’re not together (transatlantic flights aren’t cheap), i’ve tried to imitate them as best i can but the gold star on the tree has been more for effort than for actually achievement.
Except this year– at 2 years, 11 months and 14 days into recovery– i finally pulled it off. i brought my own stuff to the table. Literally.
This was the table i set for dinner. You know me, and if you don’t there oughta be a law, i always try to throw in a dash of creativity wherever i can, and so i decided this year, instead of putting the munchies in a bowl, why not just scatter them around the table? People can pick up and eat what they want and it gives the decor a unique flavor. So, as you can see, i strew the crackers and nuts about the table and added glow stick bracelets on the dessert plates.
My son and his friend made a perfect dinner, veal and Indian rice, and we had an ice cream cake for dessert.
Speaking of dessert…
After the meal, i cleared away the leftover nuts and threw candy all over the tablecloth, to munch on with the ice cream cake. It was a fun touch!
Sparing you the glory details, the Christmas Stars aligned this year and i was able to prepare a steak, mashed potatoes with gravy and salad dinner for my son, his friend, my daughter and her friend. i’ve wanted to to do this for ages and it really didn’t seem as though it would work out, but then at the last minute everything fell into place and i got my Christmas Miracle.
When all was said and done, with the last dish washed and the last bit of wrapping paper in the trash, i had the feeling that Christmas this year was a good one, even if i was the one in charge.
Sobriety brought me the most unexpected and valuable present of all.
i truly wish for you the same joy and cheer that i have found this year. May it continue all the way through 2014 and beyond.
i turned 50 a couple of weeks ago. The reason i mention this is because my parents were here from the States and they brought 2 presents more than they knew.
In addition to the gifts and the help around the apartment, my father was kind enough to spend a lot of time making a musical slideshow of my life, from infancy to adolescence to manhood. We watched it on my birthday and what I noticed was that, for many of the photos, i was obviously feeling no pain – or anything else. Shiny eyed, sloppy grin, puffy face…
Sure, the photos were taken during parties and special occasions, but the number of “well lit” photos was significant. Even my kids laughed a couple of times (yeah, let’s say just a couple) and said, “Oh yeah, you’re so drunk there!”
This was good news for a couple of reasons, the main one is that i’m no longer that guy. For family gatherings i’m sober and present and together and no one needs to worry about me embarrassing myself or them. Another reason i enjoyed the show was that my kids felt comfortable talking about my drinking days, and that it wasn’t treated like a taboo subject. Speaking as someone who comes from a family with more elephants than rooms, this was reassuring.
The second present that unfolded during the festivities was my father. At dinner, he got choked up (he does that a lot nowadays) making a toast to me, saying how proud he was that i looked comfortable in my own skin. He said it’s the first time in a long time that he’d felt that way when watching me, but that’s all any parent wishes for their kids.
When people ask me how it feels to turn 50, i can honestly tell them i’ve finally learned to let go of things. Not take everything so damn seriously. Thanks to sobriety and Alcoholics Anonymous, i’ve achieved a peace of mind that makes the next 50 years look a lot more exciting than i ever could have believed.
i had my big share earlier this evening…and rocked it like a boss! Thanks to you guys! i thought about your encouragement, support and concrete advice (breathing, look at at least three people, speak slowly, pray…) and the effect it had on me was immeasurable. Yes, my voice quaked a little, especially when i touched on my suicide attempt, but i don’t think anyone really noticed. The nice part was i made a lot of jokes–even better, people actually laughed! Go figure.
Here’s an edited version of what i had to say, if you’re interested.
Sooooooooo, this is stressful…
Before, when i was confronted with situations like this, i had a little trick. i called it vodka. Unfortunately, that was the only trick i had. i was a one-trick pony.
When i was sad: booze. Nervous: booze. Stressed: booze. Afraid: booze. Happy: booze. Bored: booze. When i felt nothing: booze. i only had one tool in my kit: booze. That’s insane! One tool!
AA’s second step says we believe a Higher Power will restore us to sanity, and i was so totally insane that i needed restoration. How insane was i? i was trying to restore myself–with only one tool! Do you realize how difficult it is to build something with your life or make something of yourself when all you have is one tool? Especially when that one tool usually was a screwdriver!
Here’s another thing that shows how insane i was. i drank for 30 years. 30 years. i drank for 30 years despite the fact my life was constantly getting worse. A normal person would say, “Wait, this is hurting me, I’ll stop it.” Not me, because i was insane.
Another thing. i drank for 30 years and i didn’t even like the taste of alcohol! i hated beer and wine but drank it all the time. i only drank hard liquor if i could mix it with something that would cover the taste! There must be some food you don’t like, right? Do you eat it? Of course not, you don’t like it so why would you eat it? But me, i drank for 30 years even though i didn’t like what i was drinking.
Of course i had a reason to drink, though. i was looking for something. i was looking for love, friendship, romance, courage, strength at the bottom of a bottle. Here’s how insane that was: i spent 30 years looking for things in the one place i knew they weren’t! Because i’d looked there before and not found them, not really, and yet i kept looking there even if i knew i’d find nothing!
Imagine you’re looking for a key. You check your pocket and find it’s empty and that there’s a hole in it. Do you check it again, right after? No, of course not, you know they key isn’t there. Do you check five times, ten times, 1000 times? Do you keep checking over and over again in the same pocket for 30 years? Of course not! That would be insane. All you’d touch is that same emptiness and the only thing you’d feel is that hole getting bigger and bigger, and that’s what happened to me.
Now, in recovery, i’m still insane. But. i lost that one tool i had and replaced it with a full set of better tools and i keep adding to the toolbox all the time. Also, i recognize the thoughts that are insane and i use my tools to fix them. With time, those thoughts are coming less frequently and with less strength, so maybe there will be a time when they all but disappear. But that’s for another day. Right now, i’m happy to be here with you and i thank you for your support in keeping me sane.
Thanks again, everyone who commented and sent me moral support! It was a truly beautiful gift and helped me so much. You guys are the greatest!