My mother, father,
sister and her boyfriend,
my husband and children
were sitting in a nice restaurant
to celebrate my birthday.
Some of you know
I have chosen
to not imbibe the fermented fruit of the vine,
and you also must know
that this puts me in the minority
of the adult population.
So I, my daughter, and son
sipped on our water,
while the five other adults drank,
two of them to excess.
I attended to my children,
enjoyed giving them bites
of delicious food,
sharing my salad and entree with them,
engaging them in conversation.
bless his heart,
and to his credit,
did make an effort to engage with me
between sips of beer,
and we exchanged some pleasant words
in the course of the dinner.
He only had two beers and a glass of champagne.
Surely, this is moderation, is it not?
But inside, I felt lonely.
This was supposed to be my birthday celebration,
and the adults were focusing on their booze,
becoming loud, intoxicated…
I found myself looking around
at the others in the restaurant,
wondering about their conversations,
guessing that they were surely
than what was unfolding at my table.
with its history of alcoholism,
couldn’t help itself.
The alcoholism had to follow us into this dinner,
even though the guest of honor
What would you do,
if you felt lonely at your birthday dinner?
Would you have put your foot down?
Would you have said something?
Would you have withdrawn?
I tried to be kind and present,
but I couldn’t help feeling wistful.
Afterwards my sister was belligerent,
because this is what happens when she drinks too much.
She yelled, gestured,
said she didn’t need anything from anyone,
and passed out in my bathroom.
She has done this many times before.
I wish I could help her,
but I know that I can’t.
She needs to help herself first.
And now, more than ever,
I see that my sobriety,
is one of the greatest birthday gifts
I can offer to myself…
and to the world.