This Thanksgiving, I plan on lolling about in an acid-induced stupor. It will be a direct result of ingesting an abundance of turkey and the amino acid tryptophan – but it will be a stupor nonetheless.
Other than my tryptophan buzz, this will be the second sober Thanksgiving in a row for me. In November of 2016, I was test driving sobriety, but not for very long.
Thanksgiving day, my husband and I drove up to visit friends who live in Ashland, Oregon. It was a day surrounded by lovely people, spending time outdoors on their gorgeous ranch in the hills, and an almost embarrassing abundance of delicious food.
It was also an all day drink-a-thon, and I was pretty much white-knuckling it the minute we arrived.
Thankfully, Mike was there. He was in recovery and also not drinking. Talking with him about our struggles with alcohol definitely helped. But in hindsight, I realize that it was simply too much, too soon. Mike had some time under his belt – I did not. I obviously wasn’t ready for that kind of immersion therapy.
The next morning, I woke up with no hangover, feeling fucking fantastic. But I still had an itch to scratch – a lingering sense of disappointment, like I had missed out on all the fun. By the time evening rolled around on the day after Thanksgiving, I had decided screw this – and I was back to drinking again.
Why I still associate drinking with “fun” when it has been anything but that over the last few years is truly mystifying. But then again, nothing about this disease makes sense. I need to constantly remind myself to take off my rosé colored glasses, and see the misery my drinking has caused. The scales weighing good versus bad outcomes when I drink are like a ballerina (good) trying to teeter totter with a sumo wrestler (bad).
In hindsight, placing myself smack dab in the middle of such a well-lubricated crowd last year was not wise on my part. I should have been more vigilant. Just like a mother protects a newborn from illness until the baby’s immune system and constitution grows stronger – I should have been better at protecting my newborn sobriety. I hope someday I will be able to be around a bunch of people drinking and not feel tempted, but that’s not where I am right now.
Was it their fault I relapsed? Hell, no. My struggles are mine, and mine alone.
But I decided to be a little smarter this year. I’m going to the only place I know where a wine pour is actually the suggested 4 ounces . And a second glass? Whew, better slow down there crazy lady – this is dinner, not Burning Man!
This would be Thanksgiving at my parent’s house.
A bit boring? Maybe. But I think that mostly just depends on my attitude. Honestly, neither one of them are in good health and I don’t know how much longer they’ll be around. We have plenty of family discord, but I still love them – and I know there will come a time where I will miss them terribly.
I plan on going for a morning hike in the woods, getting down with a good book and a jigsaw puzzle, being alcohol free and truly present with my family, and eating obscene amounts of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.
But mostly, I plan on practicing grace and gratitude. Something I learned from a dear friend who passed away from cancer this year. She taught me so much…but more about her later.
I have so much to be thankful for.
Thankful that I do not work in retail or customer service of any kind – especially during the holidays – which also means that I will not end up committing murder or hari kari.
Thankful that I continue to abstain from the corporate-orchestrated mass hysteria called Black Friday, and that the words “Walmart stampede” will never be associated with my cause of death.
Thankful for eggnog, even though it is the consistency of phlegm and is roughly a quarter million calories per cup. Pumpkin spice – you’ll never be more than sloppy seconds to me.
Thankful for the nostalgic smell of myrrh incense in old Catholic churches. I love it so much that as a teenager, I thought about stealing the smoking silver censer ball and chain from the rectory and using it to cover up the smell of weed in my bedroom. But I figured that – because it was a sacramental instrument – white robes and some kind of weed exorcism ceremony would be required, along with at least a 1,000 Hail Marys after confession. So I decided against it.
Thankful for the guilty pleasure and nostalgia of Christmas carols – which I will start indulging in on November 24th and despise by December 26th.
Thankful for guilt-free naps on the sofa with my dumb-dumb dog.
Thankful for cozy sweaters, crisp, cool days, and temporarily shelving my angst about achieving that elusive bikini bod until January.
Thankful for Cool Whip – I don’t care that it’s basically high fructose corn syrup and chemicals, it’s magical fluffy rainbow unicorn food to me.
And mostly, I’m thankful to experience life with my eyes wide open, for the realization that I can actually have a good time not drinking, and for the unfettered freedom and forgiveness of elastic waist bands.