Staying sober at New Year and Christmas the first year in AA can seem like an insurmountable challenge – it is not. Do whatever you need to do to get passed this time of the year for the first time and perhaps focus on the differences to the past.
If that is too much find somewhere you can help; whether in your own house or a homeless shelter, but staying busy and grateful help considerably. You will feel better in yourself by the end of January if you manage this situation well and to your own satisfaction.
The Christmas Past
Before getting sober in Alcoholics Anonymous Christmas and New Year had become times that I would lock myself away. For me, it was a time of the year when other people were with their family and I didn’t want to disturb them – I didn’t belong in those situations. It was family time, not alcoholic drinking time. I knew my life was a mess and I brought little happiness wherever I went, some of this penetrated my brain and I did not want others to endure me at this time of the year. I think in general I had become isolated within society anyway.
My own method of getting through this time of the year was buying a decent stock of drink and locking myself away. I would tell people that I was going home for the holidays and just withdraw and get drunk every day on my own. I had either abandoned my family or others had given up on me many years before.
My First Sober Christmas and New Year in AA
I didn’t grow up within a happy family that enjoyed spending time together during holidays, so I had developed a dislike of festive holidays. So now here I was in AA, sober, and disliking the prospect of spending time on my own while I was supposed to be happy and joyful due only to the time of year.
I was about six months sober, long enough to have started making friends in AA and knowing there were some people I could spend time with who were in a similar situation. I went to an AA dance. I find these affairs rather dull, but it was better than being on my own and brooding.
I went to lots of AA meetings, along with all the other sad folk that didn’t have a life – an indication of my thinking… being with them reminded me that I didn’t have a life either – perhaps that is why I disliked and was contemptuous of them so much.
Christmas and New Year Present
It got better. I was willing to experiment.
My second year sober was spent at home with my Dad. It was a really odd Christmas lunch with him and my Grandfather. Both of them were at the table with their girlfriends and I was there alone – just to illustrate even stronger my aloneness. I was about 18 months sober and still getting things together.
But it was better than the first year.
Before my third Christmas sober I made a decision that I enjoyed Christmas. I have no idea where that came from, but I decided it was a pleasant time of the year, the emotion of the festive period was to be enjoyed, buying presents were to be enjoyed, having time off was to be enjoyed. And I started to get into the spirit of things – without getting into the spirts.
Like the rest of my life, every year since the holiday season has become better; I am more in myself and therefore more able to spend time with people and not look for anything apart from enjoying their company.
Perhaps one of the reasons this time of the year has become easier is I met my other half when I was three years sober and she likes Christmas. We have spent every year bar one together celebrating together; one year she went home to family and I had decided I did not want to make the effort. Two days after Christmas I got a plane and joined her.
New Year and Christmas Future
Since I seem to be following along Dickens Christmas Carol I will think of what can be in the future.
I have choices. You have choices.
You can decide to hate this time of the year and be unhappy, it is not the wisest choice available to you, but it is down to you.
This year we have a new baby in the house. When I got sober I didn’t imagine that I would meet someone and be able to sustain a long relationship. I have managed this with help from friends and seeking professional help to enable me to change, as I really needed to change.
My hope is I continue to grow, fit better into society, and enjoy the moments of life as they happen.