Augh, as I sit in the ships comfort and approach Abaco Island, preparing this newsletter for you, writing about the bittersweet holidays, 71-years of memories thick with emotions of tradition, children, husband and family come rushing begging for my attention. I thought those were the times of my life, and to an extent, they were. But those times were also mired thick with troubled thoughts, situations and delusional reflections of what should have been and never was. Most of all, what could have been–and never would be.
For those of us today who still feel like this, Holidays are the excuse we use to watch that sparkling, golden goodness gravitate to us called alcohol. Or there was the dripping cold sweat of an ice-cold beer we’ve swallowed to reach new heights of grandeur and to blur the edges for us between what-is, and what is not our reality.
That was my life, spinning that Wheel of Fortune as the celebration of the liquid magic gurgled to life in the glass. In a self-induced trance, I thought it held everything I could imagine for me while, at the same time, whirled as I tried to catch the spin of that last drop, never wanting the dreams to disappear. So near to me was the promise of goodness, and yet so far away.
I’ve been spinning that big Wheel for over 23 years now sober until my last drink that brought me to my knees to God, (my Gift Of Desperation) I never felt before. Now with a few 23-sober years accumulated, I’d like to share with you what continues to work for me to brace against that first drink.
Maybe you’ll hear one of these that speaks to you? These are but a few, please do add your own, but if you’re new or know someone who is new, they could prove useful, and safe:
If you don’t pick up the first drink, you won’t get drunk!
Huh? Sounds “trite,” I know. But each time you drink, it’s not how MUCH you drink that snags you under, it’s what that first drink does for you! Alcohol continues to be the solution to most all of our pain and suffering, and let’s not forget, self-loathing! It is the elixir that frees us from ourself: our scared, emotional, immature selves and gives us instead, that feeling that we’ve arrived in a way, never felt before.
You have no idea the damage that’s possible AFTER that first drink! I can assure you as a blackout drinker, this is true. Did you kill or injure someone? Steal money? Lie, fight or ripped clothes off in front of a crowd? Land in jail as if in a nightmare? Oh, and there’s more. If you can be honest, you’re either fortunate or in denial. The ones who never make it in recovery suffer from many things, while denial leads the pack.
Don’t “romance the drink”
If you are newly sober this one’s for you: When with others, realize that no one cares WHAT you’re drinking, so long as it doesn’t interfere with their drinking! Prepare yourself ahead of time and be smart: carry soda water, iced tea, and don’t stay longer than you must.
Examine your Motives for Participating
Are you orchestrating the Holiday event? Will you be receiving an MVP Award? Do you have something to prove or are you attending to not disappoint others? All of these would be considered wrong reasons, because (a) you’re just not that important, and (b) after the 2nd or 3rd drink, no one is going to care or notice you’re there or gone. But if you have a drinking concern, you should care.
Bring Your Own Car
No easier way to get out a-Dodge then to have your own set of wheels. You really ARE in charge and protecting your hard-fought sobriety must come first regardless of situations and people around us.
Bring some hard sugar-free candy with you
Candy helps to ease the pressure of anxiety, and self-consciousness, making it easier to change our attention to something else other than what we THINK others are thinking about us. (Because…. they’re not, it’s our ego dancing for joy, preparing itself for the drink we think will save us from ourselves!)
THINK the drink through to the other side
Prepare yourself ahead of time by practicing in front of the mirror. What will you say if sweet Aunt Betty trys to corner you about getting her a drink? She asks, “Would you mind dahlin?”_) Practice saying NO and offer a gentle suggestion that you will ask someone else to get it for her. You cannot, rather, should not, put yourself and your sobriety in that position, in ANY position that could compromise your sobriety.
Have Telephone Numbers at the Ready and Handy to Use
This is why your sponsor harps about learning to pick up the telephone. More than once it has saved my life and it will save yours too. But YOU have to do the work.
Print this out and add to it…
…anything and everything that speaks to YOU personally about how to protect your precious gift of sobriety.
Remember, this is just another day…
…like any other with the exception of the spiritual and family undertones of resentments that ring with it. Holidays are hard for everyone (no, we have no monopoly on pain although we think we do). However, you really do have the control you desire to walk through them clean and sober if that’s your goal.
PLEASE, recite this after me
We only have to stay sober JUST FOR THE REST OF THIS DAY. This is the miracle of sobriety! And this is how it works: Not New Year’s Day, Christmas Eve, With- or Without Family, at an upcoming funeral or event: Just for the rest of today. So, count how many more hours of the day you have left where your feet are, (subtract sleeping, eating, working.) Now you’re left with several little hours. Who can’t stay sober just for these few remaining hours? We stay sober just for the rest of today because tomorrow isn’t born yet.
I used to tell folks who want to quit, to put a rubber band around their wrist and whenever that sinking feeling in their stomach starts to twist your thinking, snap that band and change what you’re doing! Help someone else, do something nice for someone, reach up and out of your comfort zone and try something different. Because these tricks work if you’re willing to work it.
The single solitary fact remains
IF YOU HAVE 24-hours under your belt already, there is NO reason WHY you cannot do this again! It is the perfect opportunity to PRACTICE THE PRINCIPLES OF SOBRIETY IN ALL OUR AFFAIRS. And from the moment we wake in the morning, life is nothing but one big practice lesson. It is our THINKING that wants to make or break us!
Your thinking has one mission and one mission only: to help you fail. Our self-centered ego is doing pushups outside the door hoping and praying you’re feeling vulnerable enough, scared and fearful enough, that it can convince you to take a drink. And without some “thing” bigger than you to count on for help? The chances of it succeeding are pretty good.
So, the moral of this story is, IF by a miracle we are still alive tomorrow, we hit our knees in thanks for another day sober, and ask that thing bigger than us to keep us sober for this day only. It’s as simple as that.
Make up your own personal safety guide, or add to this, and then share this with others. You will be helping not just you, but the other person having a tough time too. But with your help, they might stay sober another day!
Check yourself into rehab
Yeah, you heard right. We think when we’re inebriated, that we have life by (well, you know where) but that’s where the danger begins: Many of us return to wherever home is and never wake up, dying from a drug-induced overdose of alcohol, drugs, while enduring a heart-attack, liver or kidney shutdown, driving while drunk, as the list gets worse from here.
Rehab, or even a short-term detox center is the very BEST way to safely sober up. Unless you know how long you’ve been drinking and your medical condition, you could be in trouble going it alone. By allowing medical professionals to check your BAL (blood alcohol level); your other vitals and determine how to bring you out and down safely, you’re letting yourself know that you really ARE worth something. If you cherish your family and others who care for you, this is a great time to do yourself a favor. While you’re at it, maybe ask for a physical since chances are you’ve been putting it off to drink instead.
Repeat after me
“THERE IS NOTHING IN THIS WORLD THAT A DRINK WILL MAKE BETTER tomorrow.” Yeah, you may find that euphoric rush of adrenaline we live for in the moment. Although the truth is, after that first drink it’s downhill from there because we can’t stop! NOTHING GETS BETTER WITH ALCOHOL, beginning with ourselves!
LASTLY, know that you never have to be alone again
There are others, (millions of us,) just like you, who are dying of loneliness and think a drink will make that loneliness go away which, of course, it never ever will. But what will take us out of ourselves is being with others just like ourselves: who drink just like us but one is too much and a hundred is never enough.
In the telephone directory or on line you will find AA meetings 24 hours of every single day. Google https://Intherooms.com for starters, or SMART Recovery, or ANY internet or recovery where there are round-the-clock meetings of every addiction imaginable
Look up a local AA meeting which is where the heart of recovery begins for us as a drinker, and go. You are under no obligation to say a thing other than listen and be with others. Of course, someone is ready to answer any questions should you have them or just be an observer. The secret is, while you’re there with us, you won’t go “there,” to the corner bar or liquor store. And trying a meeting of your choice may be the very best that could ever happen to you.
Your very life may depend upon what you do next because believe it or not‑you’re deserving of sobering up, or you wouldn’t be reading this.
YOU ARE the Miracle you’ve been waiting for!
If you would like to contact the Autor Harriet Hunter you can do so through Harriethunter.org or https://amzn.to/3W88R3W (Author Central direct) or in my 11:00 a.m. Miracles of Recovery meeting here on ITR.