by Edward S. (Punanai 2012)

Family Winter WalkThe holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, a time to be with those you love the most. When I was drinking this wasn’t always the case.

The alcoholic life required a tremendous amount of work. It took a big physical, spiritual and emotional toll, leaving a minimal amount of joy to share with my family. Certainly not the best way to be during what is supposed to be a time of celebration.

I’m a very lucky person. My drinking took me down to low, far depths. Physically and emotionally I was in very bad shape. If I had continued drinking there was a very good chance I would not actually have been here to write this today. My addiction would have robbed my family of a father and husband. It would have been a much different holiday experience for my wife and children had I not been able to be here with them to share in the joy.

The holidays have changed significantly for the better since sobriety entered my life. My mind is clearer and I’m fully present for everything, which wasn’t usually the case in the past. I’m much better able to enjoy the holidays and share in the enjoyment that my wife and kids have.

The holidays are are a big deal for my young kids and not being sober took me away from their enjoyment. I was present physically but certainly not in spirit. Now I’m able to put their needs, and those of my wife, ahead of mine — or at least do a significantly better job of it. Progress, not perfection, right?

We have plenty of activities planned this year. With school out and me being off work for the week, we’ll be able to do many activities beyond opening gifts. Visiting with family will be a big part of the holidays and exploring our amazing city another. Being sober means being able to enjoy it all to the fullest. No hangovers, no worrying about getting the next drink, no errant behaviour — all are major benefits to not drinking. Building something up rather than tearing it down is immensely gratifying.

Since I still have the disease, I will have to be vigilant about taking care of myself. While I will be fully involved in the festivities with my family, I will also be sure to make time to work on my sobriety. First things first, after all. I will continue with my 12 Step work while doing my prayers as best as possible. I will continue to go to meetings regularly and stay in contact with my sponsor.

I will also do my best to keep service work front and centre in my mind by helping those in need during a time of year that can be difficult for many still in the grip of their addiction. I’m grateful that I have a loving and understanding family to enjoy the holidays with. Many others have less fortunate circumstances and they need our help as much as possible.

While things are not perfect (progress not perfection again!) life has certainly improved significantly in sobriety. I’m physically and emotionally improved, with hopefully more to come. Work has turned around and my prospects for work success are better than they ever have been. My relationship with my kids is great. And my relationship with my wife is stronger than ever. Her love and support helped me tremendously in getting out of the bad place that I was in. And I must not forget the major help that Renascent provided in my recovery. Doing it myself certainly was recipe for disaster. For all of this I am very grateful.

We are going to have a great holiday this year. The tree is up, Santa has been contacted, and the kids are extremely excited. I see their anticipation and joy and I’m glad that I’ll be able to fully share in all of it. And being sober is why I can do so.

I want to wish all of you and your families a happy holiday and a wonderful New Year. Taking it one day at time, of course!