‘Christmas as a recovering alcoholic – being alone and banning family visits’ – Irish Mirror

‘Christmas as a recovering alcoholic – being alone and banning family visits’ – Irish Mirror

There wasn’t a single moment – let alone a happy moment – I remember from the last Christmas I was drinking in 2018.

What I do remember is being admitted to A&E in a drunken state amid a mental health crisis on Christmas Eve and discharged the following morning. Next minute, it was my birthday on January. 8 Truth be told, I don’t recall any events during that fortnight.

In November of 2019, I was in hospital undergoing what I hope will be my fourth and final detox. I was experiencing one of my most serious episodes of alcohol withdrawal to date after cutting back my drinking too quickly – my symptoms included severe shakes, fever-like symptoms, and terrifying hallucinations. Given the state I was in, I had no question in my mind that I wanted to quit for good this time.

For many people who are alcohol dependent , they may not realise stopping drinking abruptly (eg going “cold turkey”) can be extremely dangerous. To put it into perspective, I easily drank four bottles of wine in any 24-hour period that had gradually built up over the space of eight years.

(Image: Getty Images)

The first significant test of my sobriety was a solo holiday to Gran Canaria three weeks after I completed the detox. Even with a bottle of complementary Cava in the fridge left by the owners of my rented bungalow, I left after a week in the sun without touching a drop.

The next big challenge I faced was Christmas and New Year, and that year I decided to spend it on my own. While Christmas may be viewed as a time for family, I realised it was one of my major triggers.

For me, my drinking was a symptom of unresolved trauma passed down the generations. The only way of breaking that pattern was tackling that trauma and my drinking head on – something my elder family members were never able to address.

On the big day, I cooked an unconventional Christmas dinner with Spanish-style chicken. For the most part, I watched trashy telly – which I never normally allowed myself to do.

(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

What I found was that I was far from isolated. In fact, I found it empowering doing it on my own, my way.

What I also realised is that there is no “right way” to do Christmas. That’s where I think a lot of the pressure stems from – the traditions, the presents, the good will and the expectations that come with it.

Another thing that helped was participating in the #JoinIn hashtag on Twitter. Interacting with other people spending Christmas alone meant that I never actually ‘felt’ alone.

Now approaching my third Christmas sober, I’m glad to say I’m in a far better place than I was three years ago.

I’ll be spending the festive season alone again this year and looking forward to it with bells on.

Source: https://www.irishmirror.ie/lifestyle/health/christmas-recovering-alcoholic-being-alone-25687452

Stop drinking