My First Sober Christmas

Getting sober was the hardest decision I ever made, but honestly I was out of options.

It was August 2016 the day after BC day and I was lying on my mom’s couch screaming and crying because the guilt, shame and hangover had me beaten to a pulp. My mind was racing, my anxiety was choking me to death and it felt like someone had punched me in the gut. I was totally hopeless and I was sure if anyone knew the things I was up to I would end up alone. My brain had convinced me “No one would love me if they knew who I really was.”

Something in me compelled me to be completely honest that day. I told my mom EVERYTHING! Every deep dark secret I had been holding on to was finally out and I knew from that moment something was going to have to change. My mom said the most important words anyone has ever said to me in my life. She said, “Maybe if you get sober, you can be forgiven.” Like I said I was out of options and being forgiven was the thing I wanted more than anything else in the world.

I was ready to die. I thought there was no coming back from the depths of despair and deceit I was in. My life had become a Jerry Springer episode that I couldn’t turn off and I wanted out! That was the day that I finally surrendered.

4 months in to sobriety I was a mess. Not only was the holiday season upon us, but I had booked a 1 week trip to Mexico (all inclusive). I was also 3 months into a crazy NO SUGAR, low carb, barely allowed fruit diet which meant I was left with very little in the way of coping mechanisms. At least I had cigarettes. Good old faithful nicotine was really my best friend at the time. This was going to be my very first time on a plane, my first time in an all-inclusive and my first time traveling with my family. The only thing that got me through that trip was God.

On the plane they offered me champagne, when we booked in they had more champagne and then the first thing my family did when we got are bags checked was go to the bar. I was really lost. Not only did I feel like and outsider in my own family but I was still on my damn diet so I couldn’t even eat my feelings about it. I put on a happy face and pretended the shit out of being happy. I was an anxious ball of nerves and fear.

There was a saving grace to this trip and it was that, somehow, a woman who was in my sober support group was also going to be in Mexico that week. She arrived a day after me and I was so excited to have another sober friend there. I thought about how amazing God was. How he had made it so I had support even in Mexico.

Unfortunately my sober friend arrived not so sober. The plane champagne got her. “I am screwed” I thought. She had a lot more sobriety than me and even she couldn’t make it in Mexico. What chance did I have.

If I was going to get through this trip I was going to need some major reinforcements. It was time to call on the power of GOD. I had heard in my support groups that God was there for them when no one else could be. That He had removed the desire to drink and saved them from the brink of despair. I was open to the idea of God but at the time my understanding of him was that he was a mix between Santa Clause and Genie. I prayed, I read, I panicked and I prayed some more, that whole trip and by the skin of my teeth and with a lot of resentment I made it home my sobriety intact.

Literally by the skin of my teeth. While in Mexico I decided to get dental work done, cause everyone else was doing it. They took off a bit of my gum line to make my teeth look bigger. After the dental work was done they told me I could not smoke for 10 days. There went my security blanket.

Coming home was a bitter sweet release. I was now a booze free, smoke free, sugar free mother of 2, about to reenter my regular life. Around the corner were countless family dinners full of booze and food that I could not touch. As angry as I was about having to be the only sober human in my family through Christmas, I had also lost a ton of weight, not eating sugar and most food, and was getting my ego really pumped up by everyone telling me how great I looked. I am not pleased to admit it but my ego kept me sober for a long time.

I had a sort of, “better than you” attitude towards my family and put on a happy mask to try and “sell” the idea of sobriety to them. It was an awful way to live for my mental health but for a while it worked.

My first Christmas meal was at my ex’s house in the morning with my oldest son. Mimosas were served with breakfast. I made a point to boast about how great sobriety is. Then it was off to my mom’s for mid-day gift opening. Then home to have a few moments before the big family dinner where the booze flowed freely and I was pretty sure if I were to be drinking, it would be the one day a year that my addiction would go unnoticed.

My ego was fully inflated and I was in judgment mode. I couldn’t eat, drink or smoke my feelings away and I was mad at everyone who could. I was mad at myself for being an alcoholic, I was mad at recovery for ruining drinking for me, I was mad at my family for “making me” feel like I wasn’t the same as them anymore. I was resentful of every person place or thing that I came into contact with. I couldn’t have even told you, at the time, what it was that I was feeling or how badly I was lying to myself. My self-awareness was close to nonexistence which is funny because I was extremely consumed with myself.

I laughed and joked and pulled it together to give the appearance that I was fine. I felt the pressure of the world on my shoulders of having to make this “sobriety thing” look like the best choice I had ever made. Don’t get me wrong it is the best choice but it sure didn’t feel like it at the time. I wanted my family to be saved from addiction and suffer in recovery with me, so I had to make it look good. Right?

Wrong! What I wish I knew then was to just be flippin honest. If you're struggling then struggle, if you’re happy, be happy! I would tell myself to just be! Be in the moment, however you are in that moment. It’s ok to be sad and to grieve and it’s ok for others to see you be sad. You do not have to “sell” sobriety to anyone. It is not pretty, it is not shiny, it is not easy. It is hard ass work, it is painful and it is so worth it.


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