Pre-sobriety I always looked upon the ‘Festive Season’ as a period of acceptable drinking excess as everybody, well not everybody, over-indulged.
Many Christmases were ruined due to my drinking with some amusing and not so amusing antics.
I always started the day with the best intentions, as most of us alcoholics do, but inevitably by around lunchtime I was either merrily drunk or at best rather tipsy, but I always insisted that I was capable of serving up the Christmas dinner, often with disastrous results.
The most embarrassing incident was where I took the turkey out of the oven, which had been pre-carved and then re-heated in its gravy, and I proceeded to drop the lot onto the kitchen floor.
Undeterred I simply scooped the whole lot back up on to the serving dish and took it through to the dining room where the assembled family were waiting patiently and merely said that the ‘bird had flown the coop but now it had been recaptured!!’
I was always aware that I would be under extreme scrutiny by my family but no matter what I resolved the drink would, as ever, totally consume my thoughts and as we say, “all bets are off!!”
I would always try and laugh it off, but I became aware that the family were becoming more and more worried and annoyed at my behaviour, and friends would stop inviting us round for social events or gatherings.
The festive season was now a time of dread for my family and I suppose I eventually lost all interest in it as it had just become another day in my chaotic, alcoholic life, and I can’t really remember the last few Christmases when I was in full-blown alcoholism.
I left my rehabilitation treatment centre, Abbeycare Scotland based at Murdostoun Castle, on Christmas Eve 2015 and to say that I was fearful would be an understatement, but armed with the ‘recovery tools in my toolbox’, I decided very quickly that the only way forward was to tackle it head on and that is indeed what I did.
December 2015 was the first sober Christmas I had had in a long time, and it was probably one of the better ones.
The family were kind of walking on ‘egg-shells’ for the first few days, but at least they saw their dad sober for the first time in many years, and if nothing else they had a Christmas dinner that had not ‘visited the kitchen floor’ before being served at the table!!
In hindsight I think that it was indeed a blessing that I was allowed home at the time I was, and the fact that I survived and coped, helped me to continue thereafter, and up to today I have remained sober and my resolve is probably even greater now to keep and enjoy my sobriety, as in the two years since I have found and totally enjoyed my new life.
When I heard people talking and sharing at recovery meetings about how good life was I just couldn’t imagine how on earth I was going to manage without my ‘best friend alcohol’, but in truth I know that it was NEVER EVER a friend, let alone a ‘best friend’, and I am continuing to absolutely enjoy my life.
Family and friends rallied around when I most needed them and I also gained a whole new army of friends in the various mutual aid groups I am involved with, and they are indeed FRIENDS, like-minded people, who understand the daily rigours of sobriety that give us all a totally new and fruitful way of living.
Now, Christmas time is not a fearful prospect but one which I embrace with great joy and anticipation and I even look forward to preparing and cooking all sorts of meals, knowing full well that they will manage to get from the cooker to the dining table without making a detour via the kitchen floor!!
The family also know that I won’t ‘make an idiot of myself’ at any function or party and indeed I am quite happy now to offer to drive anyone to any place at any time of day in the full knowledge that I have nothing to fear with regards to drink driving, and that alone is quite a change.
Sobriety has given me a fantastic new way of life and I will do everything in my power to maintain it, but I am only too aware that it is only ONE DAY AT A TIME.
If I continue to use the ‘recovery tools in my toolbox’ that the staff gave to me on the steps of Murdostoun Castle on the 24th December 2015, I know I am in with more than a chance of success.