“Quit Drinking” – I thought that’s all I had to do, as simple as that! I certainly wasn’t prepared for going on a discovery journey of self-reflection examining my behavioural patterns and coping mechanisms. I wasn’t prepared for my entire life changing!
Back when I was drinking, Christmas didn’t seem like a big deal. Sure, it was a time to give and receive gifts with loved ones and having time off work, but for me, it was more about having some of the biggest drinking days of the year. That’s what it was all about. However, at 34 years of age, this Christmas is my third in recovery and I now realise, I was missing the entire point of the festive season.
Before I started my recovery journey, I felt like the days of Christmas just seemed to run together. Apparently, this is often the case when you’re in active addiction. I remember regularly not having a clue what day of the week it was, but just going along with the flow.
One Christmas Eve in particular, I remember I had lost my phone and wallet while out drinking. I woke up the next morning on my couch, with no clue how I got home, and completely oblivious to the fact that it was Christmas day. It only dawned on me when I was standing outside the pub, waiting for it to open. I had missed Christmas dinner with my family, and completely ruined the day for my Mother and family.
The following Christmas, my Mother made sure I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home, in an effort to make up for me missing last years. I brought a litre bottle of vodka with me and orange juice to make sure we would have mimosas for breakfast on Christmas morning because the idea of being stuck at home all day without any alcohol gave me anxiety!
Every Christmas I would try to come up with ways to spend as little time as possible with family and friends and maximise the time I could be out partying and drinking. I even remember deliberately instigating arguments so I could storm out and go to the pub. There’s no doubt, my thinking was completely self-centred and selfish. I didn’t care about the spirit of Christmas or spending time with loved ones, I just wanted alcohol. The only time I’d ever show any interest in being with my family or friends was if it involved us going to the pub or drinking alcohol at home.
I hit rock bottom during the Christmas and New Year period in 2018. In early December 2018, I had lost my job. My addiction had eventually begun to affect my work, I was regularly turning up late in the mornings and even had confrontations with colleagues. My manager eventually had enough. I only had myself to blame but of course I was blaming everybody else but me! Soon after, my landlord kicked me out and I was forced to move back home with my parents for Christmas. Broke and back living at home, I felt completely useless. But all I could think about was how I was going to get my next drink. I never once thought about how grateful I should be to my parents for allowing me move back home in the state I was in.
New Years Eve was always the biggest night of the year for me, and I knew there was no way I was going to be staying home that night in 2018. For me that was a fate worse than death! I had no money, but there was nothing going to stop me going out. My nephew had gotten a Playstation off Santa that year, and I’m ashamed to say I took it and sold it to fund my alcohol addiction. Even now, I look back on it like it was an out of body experience. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but once the end result was alcohol, I didn’t care.
I did get out that New Years Eve, but I didn’t come home! After a long night of drinking, I ended up getting into a brawl in a bar in town and was arrested. I was never a violent person, but the alcohol used to completely change me. My parents staged an intervention for me and something registered at long last. I realised that I had to get some help. I realised for the first time that I had an addiction, and it was affecting me and everyone around me.
Tabor Group were recommended to me here in Cork, so I made the call in the New Year. I was a little worried and sceptical before going for my initial assessment, but within a few minutes I felt at ease and the entire process and treatment programmes were explained to me. Once a bed became available, I attended Primary Residential Treatment in Tabor Lodge, and it completely changed my life. Of course, it wasn’t all plain sailing, and it did take time to settle in. There were numerous challenges along the way, but I am proud to say that I got through it with the help of the amazing people in Tabor Group, the counsellors and others in treatment with me, some of which remain my friends today.
Tabor Group’s Continuing Care Programme was something that really got me through the early days of my recovery. I found the first 12 months of recovery the most difficult, but having that support gave me the strength to stay sober.
Today, as I look ahead to my third Christmas sober, I have begun to realise what Christmas is really about. It’s a time when of course I still need to be extra careful to prevent a relapse, but as of now I can say alcohol is nowhere on my radar. All I care about is spending time with family and the ones I love. I feel incredibly grateful that I no longer need to escape to feed my alcohol addiction, that I am no longer on that endless search for more and more!
I am now in a relationship; have a steady job and can safely say I am looking forward to what this Christmas and 2022 has in store for me as I continue on my recovery journey. Getting back that ability to see and feel what Christmas is really all about is just one of the numerous positive aspects of sobriety. Thanks to Tabor Group, I am no longer letting alcohol rule my life, even at Christmas, and there really is no better feeling that that.
Tabor Group provides residential & community-based addiction treatment programmes to men and woman over 18 years of age, who are struggling with addiction to alcohol, drugs, and gambling. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, get help today. We can help you recover in a healthy, friendly environment and beat your addiction. Do not hesitate to contact one of our counsellors today for information by calling +353 (21) 488 7710 for Cork or +353 (1) 639 2962 for Dublin, or alternatively you can email us at email@example.com. We can help you.