Recovery Bytes

Holiday Plans by Chris N.

Christmas Tree

Happy holidays fellow alumni and sober friends! This time of year can certainly provide challenges, no matter how long we have been clean and sober. I would like to tell a story about my first sober Christmas after completing treatment at TPOT.

I was just about 6 months sober, still living in a halfway house, and I was still pretty scared of relapsing. Life was slowly improving: I was working,  I was involved in A.A., I came back to Turning Point every Wednesday for the Fireside meeting which was my home group; I was in the middle of the boat. But the world continued to happen outside of my little bubble of sobriety and the holidays were approaching.  My Aunt was having an open house for friends and family to stop by and ”eat, drink and be merry” and I knew her husband and his family would definitely be enjoying several bottles of booze.  Although I never really needed a reason, or more specifically, a holiday to drink or use, I didn’t want to go back to the way I was living, so I knew I had to be proactive.

So before the party I was in constant contact with my sponsor, the men in my support network and my friends with whom I got sober.  When I went to my aunt’s house the party was in full swing and people were certainly “making merry.” The food was coming out in waves and the booze was freely flowing. Most people seemed to be having a wonderful time, but I was in a panic and the drinks were starting to look more tempting. I stepped outside to call my sponsor, but it was Christmas night and he was with his family, and did not answer. But I was taught that at some point the only thing between me and a drink is a higher power, which I choose to call God. So I prayed, and then I prayed some more, and then I went back inside to make merry until it was time to leave.

A few of the partygoers, who happened to average in age from 60-70 years old, were outside smoking cigars, drinking and discussing politics (not a great mix of things, I know). The discussion was escalating to yelling and name calling, all of them accusing the other of being ignorant, as they were getting more and more drunk. Eventually, one “gentleman” reached across the table and punched another, and then their wives got involved and the table was knocked over. I stood there in utter amazement; oddly enough I no longer felt the desire to have a drink. I looked up at my sister with whom I came and just said “can we PLEASE get out of here?!”

We thanked my aunt who apologized profusely, got into the car, and started laughing hysterically. I have learned a lot about me and my disease in the time since I got sober and to see an incident like that through sober eyes was not only very funny, but provided me with insights about my own behaviors in the past. I don’t know for sure if I was ever in a fist fight over politics, but there were plenty of holidays that I ruined by not showing up or getting so drunk and high that I made a scene.