When I was an actively using alcoholic I was never without a reason to drink. I drank because I was stressed out, celebrating, sad, lonely, bored, unable to sleep, or to enhance my personality. In the end, I drank because I was breathing. I used alcohol for everything. It didn’t matter what day it was, from sun up to pass out, I was drinking. I drank when I was eating breakfast. I drank when I went to work. I drank when I went shopping, out to eat, or even to church. I drank before, during, and after every single event of my life. Life was a pity party and I was always the guest of honor.
Every year during the holidays, I glued myself to my pity pot. Alcoholics are very self-centered when we are drinking. We feel like everyone is focused on us and thinking about us all the time. I felt the holidays were the worst time of the year. They glaringly pointed out all the things I obviously lacked in my life. I didn’t make a lot of money so I couldn’t buy nice presents like everyone else. I didn’t have anyone at the time so I was all alone. Our extended family didn’t get together anymore so the gathering of just my parents, brother, and his wife “sucked” in my eyes. I spent a lot of time resenting my older brother who was successful and married. I convinced myself my parents loved him more than me and spent our time together noting all the reasons why. I justified my drinking and couldn’t wait to get the family stuff over with so I could go home and drink more and feel sorry for myself.
In reality, if I hadn’t been spending almost 100 dollars a week on alcohol, I could have afforded a present or two. My mom had once again gone out of her way to make the holidays special at our house. My parents had never treated me differently than my brother or told me I was less than. My brother was hard-working like my father and had worked very hard to get where he was in life. His wife was a beautiful blessing to him and to our family. Here I was, surrounded by wonderful people who loved me and I was so caught up in drunken self-pity and resentments that I didn’t notice any of it.
When I started to get sober, I could somewhat recognize how fogged reality had become for me. I began working through my resentments and taking responsibility for my behavior while drinking. I started to do better. But the holidays were still a struggle. I was still caught up in my selfish alcoholic ways in the sense that I still thought all eyes were on me. Only now it was that I had to stay sober and “prove” myself at the holidays. I was convinced everybody’s holidays were based on whether or not I stayed sober and they were all obsessing on it. Once again, my self-centered alcoholic mind was in control. So with all this “ pressure “mounting on my shoulders, I was ready with a full justification for why I relapsed at almost every holiday. “It’s just too much pressure to stay sober!”
Because of this, I missed many holidays with my family. Once again, I patted myself on the back because at least I was staying home and not going and pretending not to be drunk. I have a two-year old niece and I justified she had never seen me drunk and that also deserved a high-five. But what I missed was the fact she wasn’t seeing me at all. My family wasn’t sitting around saying, “Well, it sure is selfless of her to stay home since she has been drinking and not let us see her.” They just noticed my empty chair at the table. One of the saddest moments of my life is when my mother, who loves the holidays and always makes them special, said to me “Do you know now I just associate the holidays with you getting wasted?!”
I am not someone who enjoys hurting her family. I don’t believe any alcoholic or addict gets any pleasure from repeatedly stomping on the hearts of those who love them. But there has to come a day where we realize we can’t do it anymore. For me, I had to realize that I cannot master alcoholism by myself, it is much bigger than just me. I had to surrender. I gave my addiction to God. I started attending a Celebrate Recovery group and heard about people just like me, who had been transformed by the love of Jesus Christ. I started to believe He could transform me too. He started to shine His light on all the beautiful things in my life I had been missing out on because of my selfish addiction. He began to restore these things to me each day I stayed sober. On days I felt I couldn’t stay sober, He convinced me that I could. He makes what I have to lose much more valuable than taking a drink. What keeps me sober this day is the knowledge that if I choose to drink today, I am choosing to turn my back on my Savior. I cannot do that.
This year I am not thinking about an invisible spotlight shining on me watching to see if I stay sober. The holidays are here, and the pity party has been cancelled. I just want to spend time with my family. I want to be with my big brother and my sister in law. I want my niece to remember her Auntie Jenn was at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I want to be together with my fiance. Not only that, I WANT to be there. I love my family and I am so grateful to still be here and be able to celebrate with them. This is what the holidays are all about. I will not waste what God has blessed me with.