Happy (nearly) New Year!
I’m sipping on some coffee, in my sweatpants, with zero plans for tonight. And you know what? That’s just fine by me.
I love a good ritual and am partial to superstitions, but this year is a bit different.
A few weeks ago I was hell bent on getting things sorted for the new year: I obsessively cleared my inbox, I was organising and purging 7+ years of computer files etc etc.
My plan for tonight was to head to Alexandra Palace to watch the London fireworks from a (great) distance and be around people. I was going to dye my hair and dress up so that I look and feel my best.
I wanted to start 2018 with as clean a slate as possible. Up until some time this morning, I was determined to leave 2017 behind and never look at it again.
But then at about 3pm it started raining and I thought “Well, this is going to be miserable”. And then I thought “Why exactly am I going again?”
Earlier in the day, I had been reading some old journals I brought back with me from my Christmas visit home in Canada. I was amazed and horrified that the things that bothered me when I wrote them 17 years ago, still bother me now: I’m not playing music, I’m not doing more creative writing etc.
But even then, my drinking was out of hand. I know I knew this, because I wrote about that, too.
It has taken me ages to admit it, and then do something about it.
But in a relatively short time, my life has changed beyond recognition.
Which is why I don’t want to forget about 2017. Or 2016 for that matter.
They were very tough years. My drinking took me to the darkest places I have ever known. I became the worst version of myself and put a lot of wonderful people through some really difficult situations. It took its toll on me, my family, and my wife.
My marriage fell apart, and possibly won’t ever be put back together.
But in 2017, I also finally figured it out. Oh sure, maybe it’s too early to say that this is it…but I’ve managed a visit with my family over Christmas without a relapse. I’ve managed a return to work without a relapse. I’ve managed all the things I relapsed on before and unless something dreadful happens in the next 5 hours, when the fireworks go off tonight, I will be 6 months sober.
I managed this thanks to a third trip to rehab to detox (third time’s a charm!). It was also thanks to the painful separation from my wife, which forced me to decide to find sobriety for myself and no one else. It was thanks to being so desperate that I finally stopped doing things my way and embraced AA fully. It was thanks to being so incapable of work that I went on benefits, which allowed me to undergo some seriously tough therapy, and process a backlog of trauma and pent up feelings.
I don’t want to leave 2017 behind – it was the year that saw me make some incredibly important changes, and learn some incredible valuable lessons. Touch wood, thanks to the gifts of 2017, I will never hurt anyone with my destructive drinking ever again.
And tonight? I’ve stuck with one superstition: I’ll ring in the new year with money in my pocket, because getting my financial life in order is an important part of repairing the damage I’ve caused. And, you know…life.
I’ve also adopted a new tradition: I’ve got round food and will be wearing a polka-dot shirt, because in Filipino culture round things mean prosperity. It’s also my way of wishing Mrs. M happiness and prosperity in 2018 without selfishly getting in touch.
She’s a wonderful lady and deserves it. I deserve it too.
As for 2018, I’ll be working on repairing the damage that I’ve done to others…and to myself. I look forward to the opportunity to make things right as best as I can.
I’m not writing out an impossible list of resolutions, or making any grand plans. No big pomp and circumstance tonight. I’m going to go to a meeting, eat my round food, then settle in to my room and watch the festivities on television.
I was going to head to Alexandra Palace because I didn’t want to be alone tonight, which according to superstition would mean that I would be alone for the rest of the year as well. Thankfully common sense has returned; I know I’m not alone. I saw friends yesterday, today and will again tomorrow.
No, tonight I’ll happily stay in, grateful for what I do have, and the gifts I’ve been given. Thanks to 2017, I am now equipped with the tools to tackle the things that still bother me; 2018 will be about doing something about them, one day at a time.
I’m looking forward to it!
Wishing you a very happy and prosperous New Year…