“During my drug use, holidays were always a tricky time to figure out. Rather than them being a fun time to relax with family and share time together, I always had a lot of “things” to figure out in order to make it through. How was I going to get away from my family to hang out with my friends? How was I going to make sure I could stay high during the times when I couldn’t leave the house? How much did I need to get from my dealer so that I didn’t run out partway through? How much could I drink without my family questioning me? These were just a few of the many variables that I had to consider whenever the holidays came around.
My mind was never in the moment, simply enjoying the time I got to spend with my family who I didn’t see all that often. Considering that I went to school across the country, I was not at home unless it was the summer or the holidays, but I still resisted having to spend very much time at all with my family. My primary concern was usually seeing my friends and getting drunk or high as often as possible. Another problem was that over the holidays, I was usually hiding the grades that I had just received in school because I had been lying about how I was doing and I knew that my parents would try and get the truth out of me. As a result, I would almost never spend evenings at home, and during the day I was always trying to find an excuse to do something out of the house, and this caused a lot of friction with my family, especially my Mom. I felt as if I should be allowed to come and go from the house as I wished, but she really wanted me to spend at least a couple evenings home with the family. Nevertheless, every night I would announce that I was going to a friend’s house and that I would be home later, which usually meant after everyone in my house went to bed. It didn’t matter if something was going on that night, or if I was just going to sit around doing nothing, all I knew was that I couldn’t stay at home because then I wouldn’t be able to drink and smoke to the extent that I wanted. When I was home, I was usually able to interact with my family for a little bit, but I inevitably would drift up to my room so that I could play some video games without being bothered. The toughest part was when the holiday itself arrived, whether it was Christmas or Thanksgiving. I would spend the first part of the day with my family enjoying our time together, but inevitably, by late afternoon my mind was onto how I could find a plausible excuse to get out of the house for the night. It was especially tricky because, on holidays, most reasonable people are spending their time with their family and not plotting a way out of the house like I was.
Altogether, I was rarely ever able to stay present and enjoy the time with my family over the holidays. This year sober I look forward to being able to spend the holidays with my family and actually be fully engaged in what is going on around me, and not having my mind trying to figure out a way out of my responsibilities. Even in my short time in sobriety, I have been able to enjoy and appreciate the time that I have spent with my family much more than I did in the past.
This year, I’m also lucky enough to be able to see my extended family because I do not get to see all that often. Rather than be worried about how I can spend time with them and still find time to get high on the side, I can just look forward to the time that we are going to be able to spend together. Having my whole family together doesn’t happen all that often and before I didn’t appreciate the opportunity I had to spend time with them. Today, I have come to recognize the value of spending time with my family and I look forward to those occasions when we are all together again in a way that I could not have imagined during my use. When I think about the holidays now, I look forward to the prospect of being with my family and truly enjoying it in a way that I could not while I was still using.”