Christmas is a hard day to ruin for most people. It takes a lot to kill the spirit of Family Christmas, but with addiction, it is very easy. I know this from experience. When I introduced drugs and alcohol into my life, it took over everything and nothing was as important as the next high. Overcoming it is possible and being able to experience both sides: the misery of being in active addiction and the joy of working through it, brings out the true joy in the holidays.
Christmas has always been a fun time of the year. It is a time when people are happy and having a good time. Families are brought together during the holidays and that was what it was like for me when I was younger. I always looked forward to Christmas, getting my presents and participating in Christmas Eve parties with all of my friends. My family was like most other families, we all got along and the holiday season was the best time of the year. We would go to Utah with friends and spend Christmas in Park City, snowboarding and skiing. That was when times were good and the family was getting along. Things continued this way for a while up until my brother and I had some “behavioral issues.”
When I was about ten years old, I started to act out more with my brother. Things were still good at this point, but they were heading downhill fast, with years of awful periods and horrible Christmases. My brother had just started to get into his addiction. I was the little brother who looked out for him and made sure he didn’t get caught by my parents. This carried on for about two more years and life still wasn’t too bad. The holidays were still a lot of fun, but it was starting to get tainted by a little paranoia and anxiety because of my brother and me.
After two years of just watching, I decided to see what the big deal was with drugs and alcohol, so I tried it out. I started smoking weed and I loved it from the start. This was in summer before eighth grade. I immediately started to get high everyday and naturally I was less and less cautious about it. This led to me getting caught after just a few months, which was around Christmas time. This wasn’t a good experience for anyone, but it was just far enough away from Christmas where we all still managed to have a good time. So after that incident things went back to being semi-normal and my family decided to spend Christmas in Big Bear. My brother and I each brought a friend. I couldn’t stop getting high, so naturally I brought drugs on the trip with me. I didn’t even get to use before my dad found it and I was caught one more time. This really set the trip off on a terrible start and the long line of horrible Christmases began.
Life continued on and nothing changed for the positive. We both continued to get high and go down hill fast. As life progressed so did my disease and the next Christmas wasn’t a fun one either. On the outside it was not as bad, but I hated it. I couldn’t get high that day, I had to be around my family, and all I was trying to do was steal alcohol from my parents to make the day a little better. That is really all I remember from that year. A few months later my brother was sent up to New Life, and life was not the same for any of the family anymore. Things changed for the better for my parents and my brother, but for me things got worse and worse. I felt like I was abandoned and my brother was not the same person anymore that I could hang out with get high with. So after my brother was gone, I started to get high more of the way I liked to, because I didn’t have to hide the extent of my using from him anymore.
I began using painkillers daily at this point, still pretending to be a good son and a good brother. Because I didn’t do anything to try to change, life got really bad and about a month before the next Christmas I got expelled from my high school, then was banned from New Life right after. This was a terrible way to start of the Christmas season and any possibility of holiday joy was smashed. My brother came down to San Diego to spend the holiday with the family, but I was still trying to get high the entire time and not get caught.
After that I learned how to hide everything I was doing a lot better and the next year flew by with no problems and that Christmas was great, or that’s what my perception was. My family was happy and they all thought that I was doing well, but nothing had changed except for how things appeared on the outside. I still was trying to find some way to leave the house in order to get high, because I couldn’t have a good time unless I was loaded. It was never about the Christmas spirit, or having fun with my family; it was only about me, and what I wanted to do.
The rest of the year went on and I progressively got worse. I got to a point where I could not handle life anymore and there was not enough drugs and alcohol to block out the pain. I asked my parents to send me to New Life and the next day I was here. That was on October 24th 2013, just in time for the holidays!
I got to actually spend the holidays with my family, and for Christmas they all came over to the house and we did a gift exchange. It was finally not about me getting high the whole time, but it was about the family spending time together. It was about rebuilding the relationships that had been so broken over the years. For once it was about genuine happiness and gratitude.
This year has progressed, and a lot of things have changed. My relationships with my family members are much better. I’m able to talk to my parents about what is going on with them, and what’s going on with me. I can joke around with them. I can talk to my brother on a real level and be open with him. It isn’t about being fearful over whether I am going to get caught using again. This Christmas is going to be different than any I can remember and it will be an exceptional experience. We are all in different spots in our lives, and so far this year I haven’t done anything to ruin Christmas. I don’t know exactly what it will be like or what will happen, but it will be real and genuine, and it will be about my family. I am grateful that I am having a sober Christmas.
New Life House member