This year is my fourth sober Christmas and New Year. I approached it prepared to have a moment at some point, because knowing me, and past years, I thought I probably would, but this year is the first time in a long time that I really looked forward to the simplicity of a family Christmas without any preoccupation or worry about drinking. Or not drinking, come to think about it.
We’re busy as a family with three teenagers and a three year old. My husband works hard and so it’s nice to look forward to the down time of Christmas or holidays. Sadly though, I also used to associate those times with wine and drinking. It wasn’t exclusive, most ‘good times’ were associated with wine. With the older three having jobs and working a fair bit too now, it’s hard to schedule time where we can do things together. Wednesday nights are the only evening that my daughter doesn’t work, and on the last week before Christmas I offered to take her late night shopping so we could get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy seeing the lights. It seemed like a good idea, but as often happens with me, once things start to get closer, I start to think of reasons why it isn’t such a good idea. For instance, because my husband was working away, I knew I’d have to drive. It isn’t a problem, but it’s about a forty minute drive, and that’s after taking my son to work which is twenty five minutes in the other direction. So I often worry I’ll be tired, but most of all I used to worry about not drinking. Of whether I’d want to. I’m quite happy at home so it’s always a bit of a challenge to get me out in the evening. That morning the weather was atrocious, we had loads of weather warnings in place and even the dual carriageways were flooded. There was even a landslide on the main road. I would normally have used it as an excuse and although it crossed my mind, I didn’t. All day at work I watched and waited to see what the weather would do, and then we went anyway.
In honesty, it wasn’t exactly what I would have hoped for, it was so busy and with Covid I was cautious, but, it was lovely to wander the streets and enjoy the atmosphere. We only went in a couple of shops, but my little one Stanley enjoyed going on a swinging chair ride and seeing the delight on his face was magical.
Sometimes, I still have to push myself to do things the old me wouldn’t have done. I still have a lot of safety mechanisms in place to protect myself, and it’s interesting realising that I don’t need them all any more. I can do things that are out of the ordinary for me, I can cope with it and more importantly, I can enjoy it.
It’s often assumed that recovery is hard and then over. I don’t think that’s quite right. I think it’s much longer term than I used to. But that’s okay, most of us have spent quite a few years getting into our habits, so it’s going to take a while to come out the other side. My motto is to remember to be kind, not just to others but to yourselves. Sometimes the wobbles come out of nowhere. They’re the worst, because they knock you unexpectedly. But it’s okay because you can just keep going, and with each day, you’ll be a little bit stronger. I know. I’ve been there.
So embrace the new things, enjoy the old things that you still want to keep, and let go of those you don’t. Most of all, take care of yourselves.