This guy is grateful to enter another new year on the sober side of life
Back in my drinking days, I have to admit that New Year’s Eve was not my favorite night of the year, which may explain why finding sobriety almost 23 years ago was probably a good thing.
When I was “using,” though, I thought Dec. 31 was just a pain in the you-know-what.
It was like freaking amateur hour at my favorite bars, and the fact that someone who came into those establishments once or twice a year was taking time away from “my bartender” drove me more than a little batty.
So when one of my boys asked me the other day if I “missed going out on New Year’s Eve,” I could honestly answer with an emphatic no.
At the same time, I realized I haven’t made it to a lot of midnights since I finally put the bottle down on March 23, 1996.
Some might say this is just a product of the aging process, but heck, even when I was young and sober, it was a rarity to actually welcome in the new year at midnight.
The first year Robin and I were married, we watched the ball drop in Times Square and went to bed. Yep, we cheated. Sure it was 11 p.m. in the Central Time Zone, but it was midnight somewhere, right?
I’ve made a few midnights since then. There was the first year I was a reporter at the Mankato Free Press, and I was there to see 1999 turn into 2000. Remember that? Y2K? The world coming to an end? Computers crashing?
I covered a big party at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center, expecting a really cool balloon drop; instead, I got a religious history of the Minnesota Valley and totally missed the fact that we had passed into a new year, one that started with a totally different digit for the first time in a thousand years.
There was the year I drove around with a police officer in Mankato, Minn., and actually watched a field sobriety test, one which I know I would have failed a few years before and one the poor man definitely failed that night. Happy New Year, buddy.
There have been a few others spaced far apart — including the year that the boys and I went bowling and I realized that if there ever was going to be a sport where I could hang onto some semblance of family dominance, bowling was it.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but a week or so ago, I did something I thought I would never do. I bought a beer with the intention of drinking it.
That’s the crazy part of this disease I have. Alcoholism is patient, and it waits for your weakest moments. Years ago in treatment, they talked about avoiding “HALT” — hungry, angry, lonely and tired — and on that Saturday night before Christmas, I was batting 3-for-4. I was hungry, I was lonely and I was tired, and hell, I might have even been a bit angry, mostly at myself.
I bought the large single can from a convenience store, went to pick up a pizza and drove home with every intention of drinking that beer. The boys were with their mom at her family’s Christmas celebration, and the disease told me, ‘No one will ever know.’
To make a long story short, I didn’t pop the can, yet I know if I had, I’d be waking up on this New Year’s Day with a giant hangover.
I’m not one of those recovering alcoholics who is all that judgmental when it comes to others drinking or even getting drunk from time to time. They don’t have the disease I have.
So as we head into 2019, I hope you had a good time on New Year’s Eve. As for me, I might work New Year’s Eve so I might be up at midnight, but I’ll be sober. And I’m thankful for that.