Alumni Interview by EHN Staff
In this blog post series, EHN alumni share their experience, strength, and hope for the holiday season.
What were the winter holidays like for you prior to recovery?
I used to stock up on Christmas booze only having to restock it as my consumption increased. I was a firefighter and I didn’t want to have to wait in lines because it was “all about me,” so I would purchase large quantities during slower times with the intention of not having to stock up again. These extras were getting used up before celebrations even started and I would have to go back for more. At my worst I was going through 40oz every other day and hiding alcohol around the house as well. It was never enough.
Is there a part of the winter holidays that is particularly special for you now?
Yes: being with my wife, our children and our grandchildren. There are no words for what this feels like. It is like when I am just constantly smiling on the inside thinking “thank you.” I am so grateful to spend time with these people. I get to be with my grandkids two nights a week. I got to remain married to my first wife, my high school sweetheart. What a life we have.
What would you say to the loved ones of someone who is new to recovery or attending treatment over the winter holidays?
I imagine it would be tough. Stick it out and let the process carry through. It will be worth missing one Christmas to have them back for the rest of your life.
What are your top three suggestions for people celebrating the winter holidays in recovery for the first time?
Attend lots of 12-step fellowship meetings, have an exit strategy when attending functions. Take your own car; don’t arrive with friends unless they are other recovering individuals, and leave when you feel ready. Always ask for help.
What struggles do you still face during the winter holidays and how do you respond to these struggles?
I am an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, so I don’t have to struggle. Pain is mandatory, and suffering is optional. It is only my own thinking that causes me to suffer. When I start talking to my Higher Power about my problems my suffering resolves itself. The solution for me is spiritual.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I completed treatment at Edgewood on December 10th, 2004. At my first house warming party at Christmas I asked the hostess for a different glass so I wouldn’t confuse mine with another guest. Mickey Mouse never looked so good! So a new tradition was formed that year. I went back to work as a Firefighter after two months following treatment and was welcomed with open arms. I am so grateful to all who have supported me on this path.
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