On this special day, our managing editor, Cynthia Cavalcanti, reflects upon holiday challenges in early sobriety and her current experience with 30 years. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at New Thought Sobriety!
In gratitude, harmony, and support,
Thanksgiving: Past and Present, Present and Sober
by Cynthia Cavalcanti
My first sober Thanksgiving was 30 years ago, in 1988. I had gone to rehab for a month that summer, followed by 16 weeks in an outpatient program, followed by a commitment to attend 90 meetings in 90 days (which would take me through the end of the year).
I was estranged from my parents because they had disowned me––literally. No doubt I deserved it; to say I was a horrible daughter would have been a gross understatement at the time.
My mother had stopped speaking to me in February after a particularly vicious argument. My father was caught in the middle for a while but eventually sided with her. They changed the locks, wrote me out of their wills, and threw away everything of mine that was in their house.
My father made one appearance while I was in rehab. I hesitate to call it a “visit,” as he arrived with a clear agenda: to inform the staff (and me, although he did not even look at me) that he and my mother had no intention of participating in my recovery. “We have washed our hands of our daughter,” he announced, “and we have no desire to hear from her ever again.”
I was devastated.
Later, as Thanksgiving approached, I was almost five months sober––and an orphan. Up until then, I had not experienced a holiday without my Mom and Dad. Honestly, I had no idea how I would make it through, much less stay sober.
By the grace of God, the rooms of AA and the people in them, and my friends in Science of Mind, I did make it through––and I did stay sober. In a very real way, I learned what it meant to live one day at a time. And within those days, I frequently practiced living one moment at a time and one breath at a time.
The following year, my parents decided to move to another state. At first, I worried that my dream of reuniting with them would not come true given the distance. My sponsor encouraged me to focus on my sobriety and turn the rest over to my Higher Power. Similarly, my Science of Mind practitioner supported me to pray for the highest and best and release the rest.
In late September, about six weeks before their departure, a miracle occurred. My Dad paged me, and I called him immediately. These were his words: “Tomorrow is your birthday, and your Mom and I wondered if you would like to come over and go out to dinner.”
Without hesitation, I replied, “I would love to.”
And thus began the healing journey that gave my mother and father back to me and me to them.
When Thanksgiving came around that year, I found myself at the family table once more. Everything was new: new city and state, new house, and, most importantly, a new healthy and loving relationship with my parents that would grow and evolve and deepen over the years.
Fast forward three decades to now, 2018. My beloved mother passed away in April, very unexpectedly. Over the last seven months, my priority has been to support my family (Dad, sister, brother, and nieces) through this time of deep loss, to remain present for them as we grieve individually and collectively.
And we will be present with and for one another on Thanksgiving Day. In some ways, I feel like an orphan again, and I have no idea how I will make it through.
Fortunately, I don’t need to know how.
What matters is that I know I will make it through because I am sober, and I have a Higher Power. I have the program and a sponsor. I have a spiritual teaching and a practitioner. I have friends. And, yes, I have a family… and they have me.