Maybe Next Year
December 2022 | Remote Communities & Sober Holidays | Special Section

Maybe Next Year

She used to really tie one on at the annual office holiday parties. What now?

I sobered up in September of 1982. Immediately I began worrying about how I was going to get through Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family, without my reliable crutch of the previous 25 years. Habitually, my father and I would get drunk at holiday get-togethers and end up with hurtful words in both directions. The booze always helped me get through the day.

I especially remember agonizing about my office Christmas party. I always had a great time at this annual event—at which I got totally hammered, of course—and then I could chat, laugh, dance and close out the evening with inappropriate behavior with inappropriate people.

From day one in AA, I attended three meetings a day, beginning with the 7:30 A.M. Mustard Seed meeting—now my home group—just two blocks from my apartment in New York City. One morning at that meeting I voiced my concerns about my office party and the advice I got was, “Don’t go this year.”

Not go? What? How could I not go? I was the life of the party. “Don’t go,” they repeated, ignoring my concerns about all the questions I would get from my drinking buddies at work. I didn’t want my coworkers to know that I was in AA, at least not yet.

When December arrived, Sally, our office secretary, started making the rounds at work, clipboard in hand, asking “Will you be coming to the Christmas party? Bringing a guest?” I had my fictional story all prepared. Instead of going to the office party, I would be going to a family event that I simply couldn’t get out of. So I said, “No, I won’t be able to make it this year, because…”

Sally cut me off. “OK, maybe next year,” she said and moved on to the next desk. Sally didn’t urge me to attend. She didn’t say, “Why not?” or “But you have to come!” The good news was that I didn’t have to lie my way through an invented excuse. The bad news was that she couldn’t care less whether I came to the party. I was crushed. What a lesson in humility.

As reality set in, I had more lessons like this both at work and at home. I was not the star of anyone’s team. I was not chosen for the employee-of-the-year award. I was not everyone’s favorite. In the end, I stayed sober and life got easier and easier as I settled into just being “another bozo on the bus.”

Thanks again AA, for another eye-opening life lesson!

 

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