In the last few years of my active addiction I was incapable of truly experiencing the spirit and love that binds people together during the holiday season. There were several holiday occasions when I was either in a blackout or so completely captivated by the desire to use that I could not show up for any of my family or the people around me. I used family get togethers or just the simple idea that it was “that special time of the year,” to justify my behaviors and do what I wanted. There was never an inspiration to enjoy the company of family and friends, or the sharing of thanks for my blessings and the beauty of life.
Every time the season would approach I’d see others walk around with an excitement or joy that I desperately wanted but I couldn’t seem to grasp the idea or even believe that it was something I could have. There seemed to be no difference between them and me, besides external or materialistic traits. What separated me from feeling the spirit they felt was the way I had been living my life. The reality was that not only was I the victim of an impending sense of doom, but I was the one responsible for the way I was feeling as a result of my actions and attitude about life.
I never understood the degree to which my family had supported me through good and bad times. I never thought of the way I treated others or made them feel and it was because the bondage of self and the inability to stop getting loaded had chained me. It wasn’t that I didn’t care; I didn’t know how or feel any need to put in the effort to give love. Year after year the holidays had been a wreck for my loved ones and me. Whether it was Thanksgiving and a night spent in jail after arriving late to dinner in a blackout, or a day spent in the emergency room after I had overdosed while visiting my family from college for Christmas, I was frightfully disconnected from reality.
The unconditional love given so freely to me by my family was something that went unrecognized. As a result of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and New Life House I am able to show up for life and give back the same love that was given to me. I never thought it was possible to spend quality time with my fellows and experience the spirit and joy of the holidays. Life has changed a lot for me since I have made the commitment to my recovery from drugs and alcohol. It would not have been possible without the support of others who were right by my side. When I celebrated Thanksgiving this season, my first sober holiday, it was as if the unity with others and relationship with my family had been reignited. We were able to enjoy all of the simple qualities of life today – that we are all safe, we can laugh and smile and we can converse together with love and understanding. Most importantly, we can show up for each other and enjoy each other’s presence as one, big family. Tis’ the season.
Written by Nick S.
New Life House East member