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Recovering Through the Holidays: Alex

Holiday Blog couple relaxing

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 had not spent Christmas or any holidays with my family in many years. I distinctly remember being invited by my sister and making an effort to travel to her house in another town, but addiction took over and I ended up right where I had started. It was very cold in the winter of 2009. I spent most of Christmas Eve on a park bench. It was very lonely.

Is there a part of the winter holidays that is particularly special for you now?

Watching my great nieces and nephews and the joy on their faces. I cannot go back and change the past or relive the fact that I was not there for my own nieces and nephews. I can only change the present and show up for their kids and my own stepchildren.  

What advice do you have for people in treatment over the holidays?

Be grateful. For a long time, I worried my family, and I am sure they wondered where I was. When I was in treatment, it was an opportunity for my family to have some peace at Christmas knowing I was cared-for and safe.

What would you say to the loved ones of someone who is new to recovery or attending treatment over the winter holidays?

Be grateful. Don’t be surprised if your loved one needs to leave a family Christmas event to go to a meeting or meet a friend in recovery. It is generally not about the family…it is about the loved one needing some extra support. There is a lot of drinking during holidays and that can be triggering. That is why most recovery support programs out there have 24 hours of meetings during the Christmas season.

What are your top three suggestions for people celebrating the winter holidays in recovery for the first time?

  1. Attend the 24 hour meetings that are provided in your community.
  2. Have a back-up plan, like a friend you can call or go to a meeting with.
  3. Try not to have any expectations. Life in recovery is unpredictable and the winter holidays are no exception. 

What struggles do you still face during the winter holidays and how do you respond to these struggles?

Missing my dad. Wishing I could have one more Christmas with him now that I am in recovery. Also, splitting my time between my family of origin and my family with my partner and step children. I get through it by remembering it’s okay to be sad and that I am only human. I do what I can with the time I have and that is enough for me.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

My most memorable Christmas is the one I spent in treatment. Now, I am so grateful that I get to be a part of wrapping presents and stuffing stockings every year for someone else’s Christmas at Edgewood. It is my most favorite thing to do…pick a patient’s name, pick a present, and wrap it for them. It makes me wonder who did that for me when I was in treatment…very grateful that they volunteered their time.

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