One thing I didn’t really think to acknowledge as New Year’s Day came and went is that it’s an anniversary. Of sorts.
It’s not my sobriety date. There’s still a part of me that wishes I could have stuck with that, because January 1st seems like such a GREAT date to claim as your sobriety date, when of course the reality is that ANY date works just as well, is just as personal and suffused with meaning and liberation. But we generally put a lot of emphasis on the first day of the new year. Advertising has a lot to do with that. The fitness and diet industries thrive on touting January 1 as potentially transformative, but that’s another post for another time.
So, no, I didn’t stop and stay stopped, effective January 1, 2002. It would take another 6+ months of struggling and relapsing to arrive at June 19th. But January 1st is when I faced the truth about my drinking.
I had been, like I had for several years, at my best friend’s house for her annual New Year’s Eve party. And as usual I had too much to drink and passed out in the car on the way home. But there had been no screaming arguments with my husband, no embarrassing antics. And I hadn’t thrown up. At this point, that constituted a “successful” night of drinking for me. People, including myself, had been expressing concern about my drinking for months up until then. If I’d still had any fight left in me, I would’ve been pleased to hold up December 31, 2001, as “proof” that I was okay.
But I woke up later in the morning on January 1 feeling more than just hungover. I was well and truly pitted, and I knew in my heart that I was an alcoholic. I made a call, and was directed to a church basement.
It didn’t stick, January 1st. I wasn’t ready. If I’d felt horrible that day it was nothing compared to the way I felt some 6 1/2 months later. But I felt horrible enough. I felt desperate enough. And that’s why January 1 is my “desperation anniversary.” I don’t get a card and a medallion on that day. I don’t get taken out for brunch with some the friends I’ve made over the last 12+ years. But damn it, it’s an anniversary, and I’m grateful.