TW: Possible trigger warning for the struggling drinker: I list some drinkies in this post that I used to love at Christmas time. Just skip it if you are struggling. But also know this: those drinkies are so not even on my radar anymore. It does get better.
Ok. Here’s the scoop. For this post, I could have done a really clickbaity title like:
TOP TEN REASONS WHY CHRISTMAS DOESN’T EQUAL VODKA!
But I abstained.
(You see what I did there, right? Right?)
The thing is, I used to drink. Like a lot. I was really really good at it. If there had been a prize for Best Drinking I would have at least been a runner up. Or I would have won the Spirit Award and the Spirit Stick would have been a bottle of YellowTail. You get the drift. (I was in drill team in middle school and NEVER won the spirit stick which is still bugging me, fyi.)
The thing is though, quitting drinking was really tough, and I did it right as we were about to head into the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
At that time, here is what Christmas meant to me:
*cough* Sorry Jesus.
Anyhow, you can imagine this mentality, if you can call it that, worked for a while. But it’s really impossible to lug around all that emotional baggage about The Most Wonderful Time of the Year before I snapped like a peppermint stick.
Solution? I give you… MULLED WINE!!!!
And… I also give you: Schnapps with hot cocoa! And that thick stuff that you put over ice cream but I skipped the ice cream!
But wait! There’s more! Wine in a box because who cares? And ok also bourbon because somebody’s gonna need that for an awful dessert aptly named bourbon balls! And oh heck let’s throw in some hot buttered rum because Clarence talks about it in It’s a Wonderful Life!
But then, I got sober. I know. What a buzzkill.
But I did it. I actually DID it. There’s a lot of reasons why, and I don’t have time to into all of them here – if you want more details read my books, people. But I got sober. Yea! But in those early days, I realized, to my horror, that just a few months away I was going to have to do Christmas without alcohol.
Addiction does that btw – it gives you all sorts of reasons to NOT stop addicting yourself. It’s the best self-sustainer out there. It says, “But Christmas is coming…” Or, “Friday is coming…” Or, “You’re afraid of really facing the truth that there will always be something to put in the way of your total and tragic addiction to alcohol…” which is long-winded but in my case, very true.
My very first sober Most Wonderful Time of the Year was… tricky. At times it was effervescent. I was sober, and I was free. And it was so glorious. I felt so strong and kind of delighted with myself. I made new friends in recovery. I cried all the time, but mostly in the good way, due to the sheer relief of it all. I was THERE for it.
Unless I wasn’t, and I wanted to drink, which was also a lot of the time. What can I tell you? Early recovery is hard, ya’ll.
But I carried on. And here are a few reasons why:
- I would be drinking at Christmas. Like, drinking AT it. To calm it down. To keep it happy. To make it glowy. I did that a lot. I drank AT things. I never just drank. I drank to control.
- My children had noticed that mom had changed, and to change back to the previous version? I just couldn’t bear to think about how they would process that.
- I couldn’t bear to process that, either. There’s enough outside heartbreak in my life; I didn’t have to do stuff to heartbreak it all by myself.
- I knew that sustaining sober time, just one day at a time, would be the number one way I could get long-term sobriety. But also? I looked to the next Christmas as my anchor. I saw myself, a that next sober Christmas. She looked happy. And a lot stronger. And I was just so proud of her. So, I stayed in at one day at a time and I also looked ahead. It’s trippy but it worked.
- Because the words “happy, joyous, and free” had started to bubble up in me, and no amount of fancy drinkies were going to generate those real feelings. It’s true. For me, sobriety was the best buzz around. And I think that needs to be on a t-shirt.
- I just had to. I would die if I kept going. I knew it.
So, that’s my list.
And I’m sticking to it.
I love you, my friends.
If you would like a printable of the above list, maybe to just paste up on a kitchen cabinet to remind yourself… you can download it here.
Don’t worry – it’s not a “add your email to the list!” thing. It’s just because I put post-its all over my house in the first year to remind me why I was doing the sober thing, and they helped. Think of it as a small early Christmas present for yourself.
* And? I would like to just say? Mulled wine is gross, y’all. One should never add cinnamon to wine. But I found a loophole and just drank a truckload of wine before the cinnamon. As one does when one has a drinking problem.