by Dan B. (Bayview 1982)
Do you ever doubt yourself? Do you ever question a decision that you’ve made while ‘under the influence’? Have you ever remade a decision? Let me take you back 33 years ago when I decided enough was enough.
The New Year’s of 1982 was no different than previous years – I celebrated my natural birthday as well as hailing in the New Year with spirits of all sorts. I existed for the next 15 weeks, living in a question mark.
I woke up around 6:20 am on Tuesday morning, March 23, 1982 fully dressed. I wondered whether I was going to bed or getting up. I had to take my daughter to my sister’s place in Oshawa and then continue my way into work. When I arrived at work, I was still ‘under the influence’ but something inside told me that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I probably waited a few hours but eventually I went to the medical centre at General Motors and for the first time in my life, I reached out for help.
Through the substance abuse representative at General Motors, I was offered a chance to change my life. I was given the opportunity to attend the Renascent Treatment Centre in Toronto as soon as there was a bed available, with the condition that I not drink for 72 hours before admission. I made a decision that I would honour that condition and I entered the treatment centre on Monday, April 5, 1982. My behaviour was strange, because I had never reached out for help in my life.
Here it was early April and I was worried about Christmas that year, my following 38th birthday plus other upcoming social events – and I was just 10 days sober. I was asking myself: What was I thinking when I made the decision to quit drinking? Was I in my right mind, could/would I stick to that commitment? Was my drinking really that bad? Entertaining these questions, I honestly felt I had gone insane. There were other thoughts that fringed on my sanity but I knew that I had to stick to my decision if I was to turn my life around.
I found out in treatment that when I had taken my first ‘serious’ drink, I had probably quit growing up emotionally and mentally. My actions while drinking reflected my thinking process that was not quite stable and with the drink removed, I was at a total loss. How would I get through Christmas and my birthday WITHOUT picking up a drink? At this point in time I had become reachable and teachable and sometime during my 28-day stay at Renascent’s Bayview Centre I started to gain information regarding how to stay sober during festive times.
Suggestions that I believe were presented to me included that I attend as many Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as I could (90 in 90), join a group and stay close to other AA members during the trying times. Learn to express myself (ask questions – there are no stupid questions in AA), keep spiritually fit (find a Higher Power that worked with me) and use the word HALT in my daily actions (don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired).
Many Christmas days have passed since then and I find that some years are harder to get through than others. I’ve found that if I felt grateful for my sobriety, I had to give what program I had working in my life away. I have learned that my gratitude is reflected in my attitude. I also found out that I need people in my life, so I have my group members’ phone numbers as well as my sponsor’s phone number really close during the holiday times.
There are many things that you can do that will ensure you maintain sobriety and if you are not sure of yourself, go to in-house meetings at the treatment centre you attended or talk to a counsellor from the centre. For myself, I remind ME that I am worth sobriety and I do “the do things” to maintain my sobriety under ALL conditions. Just remember – you are worth it and your family and friends will reap the benefits of your efforts. Have a GREAT Merry Christmas and a Prosperous, Sober New Year.