The Gift of the Holidays

Happy Holidays fro CAST

Happy Holidays from CAST

Last new years I found myself sitting in a pool-chair, on the deck of a luxury cruise to Mexico, in a state of great introspection and, regretfully, self pity. Poor me.  Amidst mountains of exotic savory and spicy delicacies, and countless high seas leisure activities, I was drowning in my own misery.  I was an alcoholic, and I was alone.  While I found a hint of fellowship at a “Friends of Dorothy” meeting, I sank even more swiftly into a routine of solitude.  And on New Years Eve, while everyone gathered to welcome in the night with champagne and festivities, I drifted away.  The once adventurist socialite became a brooding bitter bystander.  I became apart, and not a part of.

Looking back, I realize the many steps that I, and many others take, either consciously or subconsciously, that lead us to a feeling of dejection during the holiday season.  We all automatically accept the “meaning of Christmas” mentality where we are supposed to relish in the values of family, kindness, togetherness, giving, etc.  And yet somehow it all becomes about “me”.  What are MY gifts?  What are MY travel plans for the holidays? The concept of family vacation is supposed to be about building family unity by stepping out of the regular boundaries of home and homestead, and building a cohesive solidarity through activities and adventures, which lovingly pit our personalities against the odds of inevitable clashes and challenges.

More often than not, family vacation turns into the question of “how can I vacate from the presence of my family?”  Instead of focusing on the warmth in your heart and the welcoming openness in your eyes, I focused on the glass in your hand.  Instead of looking out at the opportunities my higher power had placed at my fingertips, I looked inward at the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach.  True, I was new in sobriety and learning how to make connections with people that weren’t based on using, but what better place than a cruise where every interaction is a clean slate?  Instead of finding ways that we were alike, I judged and I knew that we were different and that we could never get along. Instead of letting my family know how I felt, I hid in the corner, and once again put on a mask to hide my fear.

This holiday season I, unfortunately, will be unable to vacation with my family.  Initially, on first glance, this appears to be a curse.  I have learned to trust the decisions of my higher power and search for the hidden blessings.  This holiday season, I will have the chance to build independence, and invest in moments of closeness with my community. This holiday season, I can discover how to celebrate and be festive, on my own terms, clean and sober.  This holiday season, I will sit and share with others what it means to make new starts, and reflect on the growth I have made in the past year. And this holiday season, I will give thanks for a fellowship, and a family, and the opportunity to be given, as well as give, a new year.

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