I am sitting at home this evening because I have opted out of the restaurant’s Christmas party again this year. I thought about going but it just wasn’t my best option, for a lot of reasons. I mean, I am not really a Christmas type of guy, but that’s a whole nother story. It has got me thinking about the last couple of holiday parties that have gone by and my life events of the time while I’ve working for my current employers.
2010 was a rather bad year for me. As the result of a drunken fall, I injured my shoulder which put me on a reduced work schedule; the drop in my income and excesses of my habits put me very behind on my bills and family and I had to take refuge in the home of my mother-in-law and her husband for several months. A small house and conflicting personalities made for a stressful and volatile holiday season. That year at the Christmas party I was in a very dark place in my mind. Anger and insecurity about my abilities to care and provide for my wife and daughter had been haunting me pushing me deeper into my drinking and farther away from my real priorities. That year I sat staring into a fire pit drinking deeply from tall boys of PBR to was down the resentment I felt towards myself. The whole party I didn’t really feel like I was there myself; it was more like I was off to one side, looking in on my own life and finding fault with everything I had done. This is when I should have stopped drinking, right then, that night. I should have dropped my beer into the fire and walked off and gone back to my family. Instead things got worse. Oh, I “slowed down” for a while out of something resembling guilt, but I managed to start the New Year off with yet another drunken fall less than two weeks into January.
After recovering from my broken knee in 2011 I returned to work, and as the Yuletide season drew near things seemed to be going well enough. Despite the fact that I was still a drunk I was to all outward appearance, mostly responsible and upstanding as well as moderately financially stable; privately my life was quite a deep hole of self-doubt, disappointment, and a small amount of paranoia. Joining in the festivities seemed like a good idea. Overall that year’s party went quite well from a certain point of view. I sat, mostly in one place, chain-smoking cigarettes, drinking quite a lot of Kentucky bourbon and beer, and being complimented frequently about how much I was liked; It felt a bit like holding court. By the end of the night however it was just me sitting in a chair drunk and alone, and still drinking. The angry little part of me chimed in about how I could have done this all at home except for the part where everyone came around and blew smoke up your ass. I just had to drink myself right out of my own good time. After that night I began to do a lot less social drinking and a lot more of the lonely and depressing kind.
Which brings us to last year. I felt I was coping well with my habits; I even managed to quit smoking without killing anyone or getting a divorce, though there may have been a few close calls on both fronts. My management of my drinking was following along quite nicely on my “I don’t give a happy damn anymore!” plan, and I began to get in more and more alcohol fueled depressions accompanied by fits of towering rage. In a near perpetual state of intoxication focus was once again lost on the payment of bills and I was forced to face the undeniable fact that this was a pattern. I committed to sobriety and thus took the safer option of avoiding any situation where I’d be tempted to drink. This necessitated my absence from many events for a while including the annual company party. Last year I chose not to attend based on the easy to reach conclusion that I could not be trusted to not drink; I had only been sober for less than ninety days at that point and was one pleasant little exception away from turning back to the booze.
This year, I am quite confident that this would not have been the case but, I felt little would be gained in my testing my resolve on the matter. More to the point we had a rough weekend serving dinner to those fortunate souls who graduated this winter from the local university and I have been dragging along for almost a week now battling my December cold and I have to be up at six in the morning. I am tired and I don’t feel well and I doubt my tolerance would be very high in regards to sitting in a house watching my all of my coworkers spend the evening getting completely plastered. It’s nothing personal, they are all lovely people in their own ways but drunk people are pretty intolerable when you are not one of them.
I wish each and every one of the party goers Happy Holidays and maybe I will see one or two of them slinking home after I drop my kid off at school