Holidays in the past were always a chore; a burden that took too long to get through. I would come home from college with the intention of getting the most I could out of my family and the time spent in my hometown. The goal was not to show up for my family but to receive gifts, see some old friends, and try to avoid my family as much as possible.
All my previous Christmas’ I would wake up late to my brother and sister screaming at me to get out of bed and join the family by the Christmas tree. Without fail, I would respond aggressively and kick them out of my room so I could use drugs before, what I perceived to be, a daunting day of family festivities. Finally, after getting my fix, the whole time knowing my family is sitting by the tree waiting for me, I would come out of my cave only to go through the motions of what I thought was a successful Christmas. In all reality, all I did was give a few gifts, get a few gifts and have a few forced laughs in between. I’d argue with my brother and sister without truly feeling the gratitude that Christmas stands for. It’s sad to think that my favorite Christmas in the past was the one that I went snowboarding all day and didn’t have to partake in the celebration at all. It might have seemed normal in the moment but looking back at it now I missed out on the purpose of the holiday season, which is giving, since I was always so consumed by my selfish mentality. This holiday season is completely different.
Although this is my first holiday season in sobriety, I’m already noticing that I am experiencing more lasting joy by showing up for my family and others, compared to the short-lived pleasure I ever got by making it about myself. Decorating in the past was always a punishment but this year it was an opportunity to bond with my brothers in the house. Instead of running from the holidays, I am enthusiastically diving into them with an open mind and my best foot forward. I had a chance to contribute to the community by volunteering at an annual clothing give away where we gave clothes to those less fortunate. This solidified the fact that I experience a level of happiness that I never had when I was so wrapped up in what I could get rather than on what I could give. This Christmas, I am looking forward to connecting with my family in a way that I never allowed myself to experience or understand in the past. I am excited to spend quality time with my family and friends with the sole purpose of enjoying our time together which is something I have always taken for granted. This holiday season has been rewarding, joyful, and filled with love. I can’t wait to spread this feeling to all those around me. I could never have done this without the support of my family and New Life House and I am eager to express my gratitude through showing up for them this holiday season.
Written by Jeff P.
New Life House member