Holidays can be stressful days for some addicts. Memories of past holidays may come to mind. These memories may be before the addict became addicted. Childhood holiday experiences which include relatives are prevalent. In our addiction we may have become estranged from the family pictured in the memory. Loved ones may have loved ones may have also passed away while we were incapacitated. Missed funerals because we were under the influence may also haunt us.
Then there are the days before our addiction got out of hand. We may have enjoyed picnics and barbeques with friends and loved ones. Christmas and Thanksgiving were times for family gatherings. We were surrounded with friends and loved ones all having a good time. Maybe we were able to have a couple of beers and stop at that. Our affinity for hard drugs had not materialized yet. Life felt good. We were a part of a family.
Then came the day when the two beers became seven or eight. We just could not stop drinking. We began supplementing our intake of alcohol with pills, cocaine or harder drugs. Our behavior at the gatherings became unacceptable and we became belligerent. We were no longer welcome at the gatherings of loved ones and friends. One may say that we wore out our welcome.
Then incredible loneliness would set in on these holidays. This is the loneliness that only an addict/alcoholic can know. The only way we knew to stop our thoughts from overwhelming us was to consume yet more drugs and alcohol. We became black out drinkers/users not remembering what had happened during our latest spree. The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Books says that “hearts were broken, sweet relationships were dead.” All of the above sounds rather depressing, doesn’t it? We felt as if we were doomed to this way of life forever,
But there was hope. Hopefully we made our way to a rehab center or a 12 Step meeting. At these places we heard others who had recovered share their experience, strength and hope with us. Just possibly there was help and a way out of this insanity after all. As our mind and bodies detoxed, we began to feel a new way of life flowing into us. For the first time in a long while we became hopeful. As the days went by, we began to grasp the 12 Step program and begin our recovery journey. In the taking of the 12 Steps, we learned where our behavior had been unacceptable. We realized that friends and loved ones had good reason to separate from us. We realized that we were at fault in most cases. In time we came to believe in a Higher Power that would solve our problems. Some call it the “sunlight of the spirit.” We come to rely on this Power to help us get through the day.
As we stayed sober and made our amends to friends and loved ones, the invitations to holiday gatherings began to trickle in. We began to repair broken relationships in our new found sobriety. We were easily able to bypass the alcohol at these gatherings. It takes time for friends and loved ones to learn to trust us again. This is understandable as we may have inflicted great harm and needless worry for these people. We had to trust our friends in recovery who had gone before us that most relationships could be repaired. That has been my experience and for that I am very grateful.