Christmas this year was the best I have ever had, and all I got was a hat that I don’t even like.
Coming up on the holiday season I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go out to Colorado, where I participated in most of my shenanigans when I was in my addiction, and spend the holidays with my family, I actually decided against it because of a fear of relapse. My family and I were heartbroken that we weren’t going to be able to have the whole family together on Christmas for the first time in nineteen years. But about a week before Christmas, things ended up working out. So I got my tickets and let my family know I would be there with them. My mom broke out in tears of joy when she heard this. Than the day came and I was off to Colorado.
This was my first time leaving California since graduating from sober living. As the plane landed at the Denver airport, I was hit with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude – after leaving there just a year and a half ago with three strikes on my record and a year in jail hanging over my head, it was unbelievable to see what I had been able to attain for myself in that short time in sober living at New Life House. Now with no jail time over my head, no warrants, no court cases for the first time in four years, and a new sense of freedom, not just externally but internally I got to enjoy a different kind of holiday. That misery, anxiety and depression I had felt last time I was in my hometown was now gone, with myself and with my family. Next thing I knew, my mom, dad, my two brothers and I were sitting around the table at one of our favorite restaurants being loud and obnoxious as we usually are. After dinner we went our separate ways for the night.
I went to spend the night with my dad at his house. Now let me give you a short back story of my dad’s house. About three years ago my parents separated and my dad got his own place close by. I stayed with my mom because I was able to manipulate her and steal from her a lot easier than I could with my dad. But after enough yelling matches, visits to the local county jail, fist fights with my brother, doors kicked down, holes in the walls and after she found my gun, she felt unsafe in her own home and made the decision of kicking me out and having me stay at my dad’s because I was 17 and one of them had to take me. My dad was not the type to put up with what I was doing, so along with my probation with the courts, I was now on 24 hour lockdown and surveillance by my dad. This didn’t work out too well for me when I was consistently going out to “skate” and wouldn’t come back for the night. This was the lowest point in my life, as well as in my family’s. My parents were lost and didn’t know what to do, and my brothers wanted nothing to do with me. This was right before I found myself going to sober living. So being back in that setting with a clear mind, a new perspective and a healthy relationship with my dad was one of the greatest things I have ever experienced. The energy in that house was filled with love and positivity, no longer with hate and sadness.
The connection I felt on that trip with my family was beautiful. I was brought back to long before addiction or sober living, to when my brothers and I were all just little kids. I haven’t felt a connection with any of them like that in years, and we have been able to enjoy each other’s presence so much more without having to try and ignore the big pink elephant in the room. It was just pure love and happiness. We all spent Christmas Eve at my mom’s, laughing, playing guitar together while my mom listened, and eventually falling asleep on the couches watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.
I can’t really put in words how this year’s Christmas experience went for my family and I. It was something that just can’t be described. The feelings and emotions were just something I never thought I would be able to experience in my life and I can’t wait to share more memorable times with my family. The sobriety I discovered while in sober living has given me a totally new outlook on not just the holidays, but my entire life.
-Joe S., New Life House alumni
Last Updated on November 4, 2022