Christmas Present

Depending on my mood, hearing things in meetings like “my alcoholism is such a gift” can really piss me off. I mean don’t get me wrong I see and believe myself in the sliver lining of having this disease. But a gift? I’m sorry I don’t remembering registering for alcoholism. Can I exchange it for a waffle iron?

And yet on this day that is merry and bright, I’ll admit being a drunken disaster whose life exploded has been the best thing to ever happen to me. One of the best things about being sober during this time of year is actually being present for the events I show up to.  Granted, I was never one of those drunks who would miss holiday festivities. On the contrary, I worked overtime to make it look like it seemed as if everything was perfect during the holidays. I’d have the delicious dip you wanted me to bring along with wrapped gifts for everyone in my hands. But I wasn’t actually there. I was either living in the hangover from the morning or living in the future as I tried to figure out when was the appropriate time to have some wine or beer or anything to help me feel more comfortable.

Now when I go to holiday parties, I’m really there. With no escape from awkward conversations or silences. Today, I’m okay showing up without gifts or working overtime to make sure everybody knows how happy I am. I do however still pride myself in bringing excellent potluck items. The world is filled with shitty Jell-o salads and I for one will not contribute to such culinary vandalism. More remarkably, I’m happy to be there to really be present and capable of having conversations. So, yes person at the twelve meeting wearing the reindeer sweater who introduces themselves as a ‘grateful alcoholic’, this disease and recovery are really a gift. And ones I cherish. Even if they can’t make crispy golden brown waffles.

Maybe it’s not the holidays that suck. Maybe it’s me.

I seriously over planned what I was doing for my first holiday season sober. I made arrangements to leave Los Angeles and spend ten days in Arizona at my parent’s house. There I would hide out and wouldn’t be tempted to get drunk or do drugs. Yet little did I know, I didn’t need to go to all that effort. The fact was, the program was really working and I wasn’t in danger of relapsing. My sponsor at the time told me, “Boo, you don’t need to worry about the holidays. You need to worry about Tuesday.” He was trying to get me to see that I could relapse any day of the week if I wasn’t actively treating my disease and it wasn’t just Christmas or New Year’s that was going to trigger it. Also, I was starting to see that it wasn’t people or days of the week or stuff that made me get drunk. The cause for most of my problems was me. Figuring this out sucked actually. If I’m the problem, then that means I can’t blame anybody else? Lame. But seriously, it’s liberating now that I’ve accepted that the only person “out to get me” is me.  And despite hiding out during my first Christmas sober, I really had a great time. I baked cookies with my mom and watched movies with my dad and generally made the decision to enjoy myself without alcohol or drama.

So today I know that holidays or train rides or Tuesdays are just as wonderful or miserable as I decide they will be.