So this program is really birthday-focused. When I first started going to meetings, I noticed that there was a lot of birthday talk. "Please fill out an index card and put your birthday on it!" I kept hearing that and I thought, "oh, that's nice. They give you a little party on your birthday, how sweet." But even though I was going to the same scheduled meeting over and over, I picked up on the fact that that there wasn't ever any cake. It took me longer than I am comfortable admitting to realize that they meant sobriety birthday and that it was tied to the chips that I had seen handed out like Yellow Pages. So, whew, there's a bullet dodged...me declaring my 47th birthday just two months out of rehab.
As luck - or coincidence - would have it, my 47th birthday is this Thursday, the same day as my 60th day of sobriety. It's not really a sobriety birthday ("birthday" is only for years), but it's still funny that they ended up on the same day after I almost made a fool of myself over the whole birthday thing. A few people have asked me what I have planned for my actual birthday, and you can tell that they are kind of disappointed when I say "Nothing. I am going to get my 60-day chip and then I am going home to bed." And I can't fucking wait.
Birthdays in the past have been celebrated in epic fashion - dozens of friends gathered around sizzling hibachis at one of those silly cook-two-shrimp-in-front-of-you clip joints, all of us posed like Leonardo's "The Last Supper" - me in the middle, like Jesus. Or ten people bowling in progressively drunken fashion over the course of three or four hours, coming up with equally progressively stupid team names (the winner: "I Can't Believe It's Not Gutter"). In past years, October 10 signaled the beginning of The Haze, a season of near-constant drunkenness that rounds up each fall and winter holiday and doesn't end until January 2. But I need this year's birthday to be the opposite of those prior; I need a new tradition for this day. This isn't the year to figure it out exactly; I am, uh, otherwise engaged with larger issues. But I do want to make a point of breaking the birth-day cycle of the past. So, early to bed, with a plastic chip on the bedside table.
I thought about what my gift to myself would be as well. I ran through all the bumper-sticker ideas - "I'll give myself one day at a time!" "I'll take it easy!" "I'll blah blah blah and be grateful about blah blah blah until I blah blah blah!" Then I decided that I had kind of given myself enough stuff over the past couple of months. I gave myself time, I gave myself some confidence and - crucially - I gave myself peace. All of that seems like enough for this year.
Except....I have a friend from out-patient therapy who - one night when we were comparing war stories about our drinking pasts - said "sometimes, the greatest gift of all of this recovery stuff is being able to brush the back of my tongue without throwing up in the sink." I could not agree with him more. So happy birthday to me! And happy birthday to me.