The Ghost of Christmas Past

29 Dec

While writing this blog is immensely cathartic for me, my goal is to help other people struggling to overcome alcoholism. Not just alcoholism or addiction, but any demon that they face. As I work to stay one step ahead of mine and follow the path to a much happier, healthier life, I hope that sharing my stories will help others see that it’s never too late to turn things around. Whatever adversity they face.

The holidays are a rough time for many people, including alcoholics. The parties, the expectations, the stress, the associations and memories. Year after year, I remember just sitting, in the dark, looking at our Christmas tree and it’s beautiful lights and ornaments, with several glasses of wine or cocktails du jour, and crying. Quietly crying. Why did such a beautiful symbol of Christmas always bring me so down? Or was I just down and the Christmas tree smacked me in the face to remind me? Depression is its own monster (though intricately connected to alcoholism). While we usually think of it as the blues, this time of year it just comes in red and green.

Past Christmases brought some wonderful memories back to me. There were several years when my brothers and I would hike through the woods behind my grandparents’ house and pick out the perfect Christmas tree. My grandfather would chop it down with pride and carry it back down, through the snow, to our car. Often, the tree ended up looking quite like Charlie Brown’s feeble little tree, but we always loved it nevertheless.

When we were kids, our dear family friends, who were Jewish, would come decorate our tree with us. In turn, they invited us to celebrate a night of Hanukah with them and taught us about lighting the menorah and their traditions. It was a wonderful way to experience the holidays together. Not to mention the incredible potato latkes and matzah brie we got to eat! (Thank you Aunt B.!)

But this year, when the house was quiet and the kids were asleep, I was able to sit and look at our beautiful tree, and smile. It was decorated by my children. And it was a happy symbol to me. No wine. No cocktails. No tears. Believe me, there were times very recently when I thought I was losing the battle and that the Drink Devil was pouring a glass for me. Get lost. 31 months yesterday without a single drop. Take that.

I don’t do it on my own, however. I can’t. My battle gear is multi-layered. First and foremost, I send my HP (Higher Power) in first. Going to meetings stores up the ammo I need to fight. And my family and friends back me up and provide me with additional armor. Thank you doesn’t really cut it, but until I find better words, that’s all I can say. Thank you, each and every one of you, for your support and encouragement. All while you have your own battles to fight. I don’t think that you have any idea how much just a small gesture means—-a hug, a kind word, a pat on the back, a “like” or a “share” of my work, or even taking the time to explain to me what I could do better. Short emails that say “you rock” make my day. You are the one who rocks for taking the time to send that.

As I have said before, I realize that everyone has their own crosses to bear. Most people fight their battles quietly and bravely in their own way. I have chosen to share mine openly and publicly, which I understand not everyone will agree with. I get my share of criticism with my writing as well. I have to learn to take the good with the bad. But, the number of people who have written to me or told me how much a piece I wrote helped them makes it all worth it. Kneeling on the floor, throwing up in the toilet, head pounding, hungover, humiliated and ashamed, is a scenario I don’t wish to repeat and I don’t wish upon anyone else. I’d be right back there if the Drink Devil wins. My writing helps get those bad thoughts out of my head and takes away most of their power. I hope somehow it helps you too.

So Christmas is over…now on to New Year’s. Ugh.

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6 Responses to “The Ghost of Christmas Past”

  1. Anne December 29, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    Nicely said Martha!

  2. Angela December 29, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    Congratulations on a great achievement at 31 months and thanks for sharing such an honest post!

  3. Dana December 30, 2014 at 12:24 am #

    Way to go Martha!! I keep my own private journal and I can see how it has kept me from making some of my own missteps. Thanks for sharing! I too have sat in front of the tree with many of the same thoughts.

    • Terri December 31, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

      Thank you. You are a voice for many. You make me brave! “…We get it all down on paper.” It’s the way out.

  4. Susie December 30, 2014 at 3:24 am #

    As always very well written and poignant.

    And yes your rock Martha!

  5. Ronald vanderBosch December 30, 2014 at 3:51 am #

    Bless you Woman, I salute the light within You !

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