Sober During the Holiday Season
I have been struggling to write this piece for a while now. As someone who is newly sober, I wanted to discuss how to deal with the holiday season, however, while beginning to write my words, I realized how new to being sober I really am. Although I’ve already endured my first sober holiday season, this one would be my first, “out of the bubble,” (i.e out of a rehabilitation program). I think it’s important to simply take these days just as you have been throughout your sobriety – one day at a time.
The Holiday Season as An Addict
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 around me. When you are addicted, you lose grasp of what is truly important. Not even my family or friends could get in between me and my pursuit of getting my fix. As an addict, my focus 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, or finding out what time the liquor stores were closing/opening. 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. During the season of giving, I was nothing but selfish.
As an addict, one thing that shames me (if you currently are an addict, or have been struggling with addiction, I’m sure you 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 haunts me to this day. The sad thing is, the shame of showing up drunk, not getting gifts for anyone, or being a burden to hosts, never seemed to outweigh my need for alcohol. Alcohol never judged me. It was my safe place for a long time. It was 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 was always scoffed at. At these gatherings, I was the one person who people would secretly pray would not be able to make it. I had become that person who I always had 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.
The Holiday Season in Rehab
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 would drop off their loved one at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility during the holidays.” As if they were taking the easy way out and handing off their problem to someone else. To be honest, that 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 have been farther from the truth.
Being in rehab for the holidays was actually the best thing that could have happened to me at that time during my addiction. 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 2 AM 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.
Home for the Holidays
Now being home for the holidays, and no longer in treatment, I can honestly say that I am very excited about the celebratory, loved-filled days 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 a much deeper understanding and gratitude for what the holidays are all about. I am not only celebrating sobriety this season, but I’m also celebrating Life, God, Forgiveness and second chances.
S2L Recovery in Middle Tennessee
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. Our S2L Recovery community is here to help lead anyone’s hand through a recovery journey, giving our love to God and moving towards a fulfilled, peaceful life.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8