I have been struggling to write this piece for a while now. I wanted to write about how to deal with the Holidays as a someone who is newly sober and while writing that, I realize that I am still VERY new to being sober and that this holiday season, even though It will be my second sober one, is going to be my first “Out of the Bubble” of being in rehab. Don’t take this as me being afraid to face the Holidays, I’m just simply stating that I have not had to deal with this season as my new sober self and am confident that I will be able to get through this without any slip ups. I am simply going to take the holidays, just as I have been through out my sobriety. One day at a time.
The holidays have always been a struggle for me as I fell deeper into my addiction. A time that was supposed to be full of love, cheer, and thanks had turned more into a time of depression, shame, and the sense of being a burden to anyone and everyone that I was around. When you are addicted, you lose grasp of what is really important. Not even my family or friends could get in between me and my pursuit for getting my fix. My focus as an addict was more towards knowing if there was going to be alcohol at the party I was going to, how long church was going to be so that I can make sure I drink enough to get me through the service, find out what time the liquor stores were closing/opening, etc. Everything was about my chase for the drink. My family, friends and loved ones were always an afterthought. It was all about my needs and wants; I was selfish.
As an addict, one thing that shames me (I’m sure if you currently are, or have been struggling with addiction can relate) is that I was never able to get anyone gifts for the holidays. The fact that I would spend the money on a bottle of vodka instead of getting my Niece or Nephew a toy for the holidays is still something that bothers me to this day. The sad thing is, the shame of showing up drunk, not getting gifts for anyone, being a burden to hosts, never seemed to outweigh the need for the alcohol. Alcohol never judged me. It was my safe place for a long time; somewhere I could go to hide and numb my fears and anxieties.
One of the worst fears for an addict is being judged, especially at large gatherings, weddings, holidays, etc. I always scoffed at the one person to show up at gatherings that people secretly were praying would not be able to make it. I became that person that I looked down on my whole life and I knew it, I just didn’t care. Denial is an addict’s favorite weapon, and as with most weapons, it eventually runs out of ammo. That’s when the denial turns into realization and shame.
When I went to treatment last year, it was right at the start of the Holiday season. I finally hit rock bottom and actually wanted to try to get help. A lot of people think “Wow that is so terrible that a family will drop off their loved one at a facility during the holiday”, kind of as if they were taking the easy way out and handing off their problem to someone else. This is exactly what I was thinking when I came to S2L Recovery. The thought that “Wow, my family doesn’t want me home for the holidays, that’s so selfish of them” was embedded in my mind. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Being in Rehab for the holidays was actually the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. At S2L, I was in a safe place, surrounded with people who understood me for the first time in a long time (if not ever), and at the same time, my family was able to celebrate the holidays without having to worry about me. They did not have to worry about getting a call at 2AM Christmas Eve saying their son is in jail, dead, or has been in an accident. It was a weight lifted off of everyone’s shoulders.
Now being home for the holidays, and no longer in treatment, I can honestly say that I am very excited about the Holidays coming up. I have a new appreciation for the holiday season and what it is about. This is the first year that I am actually anticipating the holidays instead of dreading them. Being able to face this season with my newly found Christian faith, I have much more appreciation for what the holidays are all about. I am not only celebrating sobriety this season, I’m celebrating Life, God, Forgiveness and second chances.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction please seek help. Even though it may feel like it at times; remember that you are NOT alone. We’re all Gods creation; we all have a purpose and are all here to love each other.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
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God Bless and Happy Holidays!