I know we have yet to have Christmas, but this morning, I woke up thinking of New Years. New Years holds a special place in my heart. I love it. Now, but especially in my disease, New Years was my favorite holiday. I always appreciated the symbolic nature of reflecting upon the past year and resolving to do better. I never made it more than a few days, but I always tried. This year I am going to stop smoking or cursing or eating fried foods. I’m gonna lose weight and go to the gym and yadda yadda yadda. But the best part of New Years, by far, was the solidifying one’s new resolutions with champagne and party hats.
I got sober in February, 2007. I was shaky and tired and green. I was so sick from DT’s that it was easy, on some level, to stay sober for the first few days. But as days turned into weeks, I really struggled with the concept of never drinking again. I thought, how to people get married and not have toasts? How do people go on vacation and not have cocktails on the beach? And especially, how does one celebrate New Years?
The night before I picked up my four-month chip, I had this dream: It was New Years. I was on my way to meet sober friends in order to see the fireworks in downtown Houston. I was sober, but I couldn’t see midnight coming without a toast. So, in my head I decided that if I made it to the liquor store by nine, then fate was telling me I could drink. I would buy a couple of nips and then meet my friends. Right before nine, I walked into the store. The entire place was dirty. There was a film of greasy dust on everything I touched. Except for the liquor bottles. No, the liquor bottles were sparkly and glistening, like cut crystal.
As I made my way to the counter to get my nips, a woman yelled to me, “Hold on. I’ll be right there.” And then, to my surprise, I realized there was a crowd of people right next to me. They were seated, but at that moment, they all got up, held hands, and recited the Lord’s Prayer. As they broke up, the woman came over and apologized. She told me the usual place where they had their AA meeting had been closed for New Years, so they were meeting here. I realized it must have been an eight o’clock meeting that was closing just as I walked in. The woman then asked me what I wanted. “I’m okay,” I said. The woman reassured me that the group had no judgment upon drinking, and that she would be happy to get me whatever I wanted. I looked up at her, into her eyes, and said, “No, really. I’m okay.” And I set my four-month chip on the counter and walked out the door.
It is hard for me to articulate why this dream has meant so much to me over the years. I always found it somewhat relevant that I had the dream the night before I picked up my four-month chip, as if to say that day 120 is a gift, but day 121, not so much. I also know it was the first time, I did not drink in my dream. Over the years, I have met many people who have using dreams in which they turn down the proffered alcohol. It’s an insane realization to know that one cannot even get high in their subconscious. “Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them,” (Big Book 27). But to me, it also answered a personal fear of New Years. I woke up the next morning thinking, I do not know what I will do for New Years, but I do know AA will be there.
And it always has been.