The holidays are a time of giving. It is a time where we try to be just a little better to those around us. As all of us go through life, we grow more and more busy all the time. As a kid I always loved the holidays, getting out of school for a few weeks, all the food, the trips that were taken and of course, all the presents. The years went on and I really started to establish a love for the holidays. After addiction treatment though, the Spirit of Giving really kicked in and this became my favorite time of year.
Once my alcoholism took hold I began to have a very dark outlook on the holidays and even began to dread the time as it came closer. Everything about the holidays became overwhelming and annoying. I stopped seeing it as a time of excitement. There was no more desire to just be with my loved ones and family. I just wanted to do my own thing and separate myself as much as possible. All the crowds of people everywhere, all the Christmas music in every store I went in, all the decorations. I just wanted to hide from all of it. I really just wanted to continue living the lifestyle that was centered on me because that’s what was comfortable to me. Having to step outside of myself and do things for others became a task that was beyond my ability. Especially since I had established a lifestyle that was take and take, the last thing on my mind was giving to others. I truly lost the Spirit of Giving within myself.
When I got into addiction treatment, I was at the end of my rope and I was truly ready to find out why I couldn’t fill this hole inside me anymore. I learned very quickly that my way of living was never going to satisfy me because I did nothing but care about myself. I began to learn how important it was to help those around me. This is what a program lifestyle is based around. I began to take an interest in those around me and I started to see how important it was to give to others.
By the time my first sober holiday season came around I had been sober for about 6 months and I was really starting to grasp this lifestyle and starting to really feel good about who I was becoming. Addiction treatment had helped me completely turn my thinking around. I had the opportunity to go with one of my friends and spend Christmas with him and his family. At first I was a little sad that I wasn’t going to be with my own family, but I was able to see them just a few days before and spend time with them. My friend’s family took me right in and made me feel as if I was one of their own. There was no desire to run off and be alone, I wanted to be with others and be surrounded by love. I was able to show up for my friend and set aside my own wants to be able allow him to enjoy this time with his family. I had so much fun too so it really was a win/win as I found myself actively engaged in the Spirit of Giving.
Now I have just over a year and a half sober and as I approach the holidays this year, all desire to be alone and alienate myself from my family and loved ones is totally gone and I feel that excitement I felt when I was a kid. One of the things that I have really worked on building is my relationship with my family. They mean a lot to me and have always been so supportive towards me even through my trials before addiction treatment. I am excited to go home and to be with them and show up with the Spirit of Giving, as I did in the past. Since the holidays are a time of giving I see it as another opportunity to not only to give to my family and loved ones, but to practice the Spirit of Giving to all of those around me.
My life today has dramatically changed from where it was at a year and a half ago. I have a lot of gratitude in my heart for the things that I have learned along the way and the opportunities I have been given. I owe it all to this addiction treatment, New Life House and to the service mindset that I have learned. It has given me the ability to approach this special time of year with excitement like I did when I was a kid. It has allowed me to rediscover the Spirit of Giving within myself and taught me how to give it away to those around me. The thing that I cherish the most today is the time spent with the quality people that I have in my life. I lost so much time with all my loved ones over the years that I feel an extra strong desire to make up for it in a sense. This is all new time spent with them though, with a new perspective and a new desire to live a life full of giving. The Spirit of Giving that addiction treatment helped me find within has shown me a New Life.