I haven’t had much time to write lately and now that the chaos of the holiday season is upon us, I’ll probably have even less time. But once again, I was on a train up to NYC and finally sat still long enough to catch my breath and have some time to reflect. I also haven’t had much time to get to meetings and I can definitely feel it. I start getting squirrely. We’re heading into a very tough time of year for me, and for many alcoholics, and more meetings are crucial to make it through the holidays sober.
Thanksgiving has always been tough for me. It was a day of heavy drinking and some memorable meltdowns. I would start drinking pretty early in the day as I prepared the food and set the table. A walk over to our neighborhood football game was usually good for a few Bloody Marys or Mimosas. Plenty of wine with dinner and the flow continued well after dessert. I still remember the embarrassing drunken episodes. But there will be no more. This was my fifth Thanksgiving sober. I will hit 4 ½ years of sobriety on the 28th. And life is SO much better.
I have numerous things for which I am very thankful. Too many to list here but suffice it to say that I thank God every day for my sobriety and for all I have. I think you tend to appreciate what you have much more when you come close to losing it. In the height of my drinking, I was on a path of destruction that could have caused irreparable damage. Many people have asked me at what point did I know that I was an alcoholic and had to get help to stop drinking – when I reached my rock bottom.
I am one of the very fortunate alcoholics whose rock bottom doesn’t have a horrific story. Don’t get me wrong, it was pretty awful for me and those around me, but not nearly as bad as some of the stories I have heard in the rooms. While many accounts may be similar, everyone has his or her own rock bottom.
In a recent meeting, I heard one of the best descriptions of rock bottom I had heard during my sobriety. It’s from the Big Book (of Alcoholics Anonymous) on page 425:
“One definition of bottom is the point when the last thing you lost or the next thing you are about to lose is more important to you than booze. The point is different for everyone, and some of us die before we get there.”
For me, the next things I was about to lose were more important to me than booze – my family, friends, health, sanity and more. It just took me a long time to realize it. Had I not, things would look very different for me this holiday season, if I was even still here to enjoy it.
And, thanks to a wise friend, I’m learning to look forward optimistically rather than back regretfully. The past is the past. I can learn from it but move on and look forward to new Thanksgivings and holidays rather than dwell on the pitfalls of past. It’s a good time of year to take stock of what truly is important to us and not let booze, or anything else, put us at risk for losing it. Whatever your demons are that can take you down, it’s never too late to get help and turn things around.
Happy belated Thanksgiving and warm wishes for the holiday season upon us. I hope you can realize and appreciate all your blessings too. Don’t wait until you risk losing them to do that.