For most people the holidays are a time for getting together with friends and family, relaxing in their company and counting blessings. It’s a time of year when many eat and drink a bit too much and get to take some extra time off from work. We spend some precious, and all too rare, hours with those we love. We unwind, recharge and look forward to a new year to come.
It’s a time of year when most people let things slide a bit. We try to give others a bit of a break, you might say. The holidays are a time when we focus on nourishing our intimate, family and other relationships. We try to think of others, rather than ourselves, practicing charitableness. To our family and close friends we give gifts. But to all others we try to give a little more of our heart than we usually get a chance to do most of the year. And we’ll try to show a bit more compassion and tolerance for those struggling more than we are, those souls who we perceive as being less fortunate.
But for an addict Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years or any other holidays are just another day in the life. No longer able to feel satisfaction just from the simple strands of happiness …basking in the love of another, the warmth of sunlight on a winter’s day, the symphonies of the birds or the cooling rays of a gentle breeze in summer. We become callous, even immune, to the simple joys of life. For an addict there’s no relaxing and enjoying time with family and friends. There is never any respite from the constant need to quell a troubled mind; no break from the daily chore of arranging for drugs any way possible, by hook or by crook.
For an addict the holidays are sad reminders of a life lost. Everywhere we look we see and hear of peace, joy and doing good will to others. The sounds of laughter bring feelings of loss and alienation when we’re shackled to the merry-go-round of a life of addiction.
Maybe we’ll attempt to forget our horrendous and seemingly hopeless situation by getting into as comatose a state as possible. We don’t like looking at ourselves in the mirror, you know, what to speak of sitting with old friends and relatives. Every day’s the same. Think about getting high, planning for your next hit, fix, line or drink and then trying to stay that way…high, to just forget about it.
Forget about what? Every addict eventually comes to the point of realizing that they have gone down a tragic and dangerous road to ruin. When we are sober we feel this to the depth of our souls. We will come to the point of screaming within our minds from the pain, anguish and self-incrimination, eventually.
During the holiday season we’ll try to forget about the fact that our lives have no joy. They make no sense. So we tell ourselves that we must stop. We have to get clean! For ourselves, and for all those that, in their love for us, have unwillingly allowed us to run ramshackle over their lives.
But when we’re addicts we cannot sit and think about these things. It can drive you crazy. You go on trying to manage this unmanageable life…until you can’t anymore. The truth of the destiny of an addict is that it is always fixed. Either you quit successfully, go to prison or die. The last two stop the addictive behavior, but don’t cure the problem. Unfortunately for those that overdose, or die from violence in the drug world, there is no second chance. But if you’re alive you have a chance.
There comes a time when you have to believe that. You have to believe that you can change your life, finally make it a life worth living. And the holiday season is a time when family and friends will take more time than usual for others, so it’s a perfect time to try to get help. So for anyone caught in the web of drug or alcohol addiction the holidays are a great time to just surrender to the possibility of a sober you.
Ask for help. Nobody can do this all by themselves, so if you don’t have friends or family to go to, find a group that helps addicts who want to get clean. But you’ve got to really want to be clean. Picture the possibilities for your future. Consider what just might be possible to achieve, if you didn’t have this monkey on your back.
Make the choice to give yourself a chance at life. No matter how many times you’ve tried and failed, you will come to that time when there’s no going back. You come to the realization that there is a better way. There is a way to appreciate life and when that heart of yours opens to the joys of the inner life there is no longer a desire to get stoned, loaded, pickled or drunk. You actually find that elusive brighter day. And from then on…You own it!
Howard Beckman 11/27/15