I tiptoed out of my bedroom and closed the door as quietly as I could behind me. I stepped into the living room to see it filled with all of the wrapped presents my mom, just a few minutes earlier, had left for me.
The stillness of the house calmed my nerves and I listened closely to my breathe as I watched the water on the stove bubble and boil. I poured the water over my tea leaves, texted my mom to thank her for dropping everything off, and then, it was time to play Santa.
As I built the teepee I bought for my kids and placed all of their presents in neat piles inside of it….I couldn’t help but wonder what this night would have been like if I hadn’t quit drinking.
Just one month prior, I found myself at “rock bottom”. Drinking morning until night. Crying, frustrated, stressed, worried, angry, fearful…but most of all, feeling a complete hopelessness I had never known before.
My family wasn’t quite aware of how bad my drinking had gotten. I hadn’t shared too many details, I hid it all so well so when I finally decided to quit in November, I didn’t tell any of them about it. My mom had called me a couple weeks before Christmas and asked if I’d be joining the annual family Christmas Eve party and I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be able to go. There wouldn’t be a whole lot of drinking at this extended family’s party, but the thought of being there with them drinking at all, was just too much for me. I decided instead, to spend the night at home just me and my kids. My mom didn’t even think anything of it, said she didn’t like going either but felt obligated to and then told me she was proud of me for doing what I felt was best. She didn’t know I was hiding from alcohol, but nevertheless, the support to skip it, was welcomed.
That Christmas Eve as I cuddled on the couch with my kids, watching the time tick by so slowly, anticipating their Christmas morning reactions… I felt grief; as if a dear friend of mine was missing. Was I the only person in the world not celebrating right now with a drink in my hand? Of course not! What a silly thought I reassured myself. I tucked them into bed and waited to hear my mom at the door with the presents I had been keeping safely hidden at her house.
After setting up all the presents and lying back down into bed, I felt relief. This was the first Christmas I was able to buy all the presents I wanted for my children. It was the first Christmas Eve I slowed down. Spent time with the two people who matter the most to me in the entire world… no distraction, no need to numb or hide. No need to wonder if I’d wake up the next day hungover and unable to enjoy the present opening so early in the morning.
Christmas morning, I watched as my children felt the magic of the holidays. We opened presents, played and then headed to my moms house. Christmas at my moms, had always been alcohol free. My mom and her gf, my nana and grandpa and my recovering alcoholic uncle, don’t drink. So it had become a habit of mine, to make it though the day pretending to not need a drink and then pour one as soon as I got home. This year I wasn’t rushing to leave; my dear friend alcohol was already gone.
We sat and we talked and laughed and ate. It was almost as if I was meeting my family for the first time. The expressions on their faces, the way their eyes lit up as they told old stories I had heard a million times but was only just NOW HEARING. And every time I glanced at my watch and got that nagging suggestion that it was time to leave and find a drink, I would take a sip of my hot coffee and ask someone another question to distract myself and carry on the conversation a little bit longer. It worked every time.
What I came to realize later on after reflecting on this day and how I managed to stay sober, is this; connection is key to recovery. Connection in all forms. Connection with ourselves, with loved ones and friends, and if not most importantly, with the PRESENT MOMENT.
My first month of sobriety forced me to connect with myself in ways I had never imagined possible. To feel such emotional pain and anguish for something I was doing for so long but couldn’t do any longer, for taking responsibility for my actions and behaviors while simultaneously learning to be SO very gentle and compassionate with myself, was the hardest, but greatest process I have ever endured. Reestablishing and rebuilding my closest relationships was the most healing thing I could have done. Becoming more aware, mindful and conscious of the present moment, was life changing. This was what sobriety was offering me.
Part of the reason I stayed sober through the holidays was sheer stubbornness. I would not, could not drink. End of story. But mostly, it was because I worked very hard to stay connected with myself. I kept reminding myself over and over again that I had to just focus on THIS moment, and I’d worry about the next moment, when it arrived. And in each moment I focused, I SAW the reasons why I chose sobriety in the first place.
My dear old “friend” alcohol might have been missing that Christmas, but I had finally found the person who I was ACTUALLY looking for ALL along… ME.
The woman who made the holiday, magical for my children just by being fully present. The one who made my family’s holiday amazing, just by being fully present. The one who enjoyed the holidays by being fully present.
If you’re struggling with the idea of staying sober for the upcoming holidays, please try to plan ahead, and PLEASE reach out to us here on BOOM, conversation and connection will support you through!! Although this year will have new challenges and may look very different for many of us, please remember; it’s just one moment and then another. You can stay sober for just one moment, right? Of course you can… you are sober right NOW!
Wishing you all happy, safe and sober holidays!
More Posts from our Boozemusings Blog to Inspire you from your first sober Christmas and beyond :
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