Many of us will pack up the car and hit the road to join kin, this Easter long weekend. Families come together to share stories and celebrate Easter with a feast. Children are dreaming of bunny rabbits and Easter egg hunts. The aroma of roast turkey wafts in the air. We lovingly decorate our dining table in its traditional best, adding those personal touches. China plates are set out, along with Grandma’s silverware. The crystal wine goblets are brought down from the cabinet. We envision our family sitting around the table. Good food, good company, and good drink. Dear God, good drink! Instantly your mind races, and panic grips, as you envision it. Your family is laughing and joking in their slightly buzzed, camaraderie, while the newly sober person sits gripping their chair, with white knuckles. Next you picture your table without the drink. That warm, fuzzy feeling, you got when first imaging it, is gone. Now instead of laughter, there’s an awkward silence hanging in the air. Everyone in the room is aware of the newly sober person. But no one is talking about it. At least, not to this persons face. So what should you do? Some family members will be supportive of not drinking. Others, a little less so. You want to accommodate everyone, and you want to support your loved ones, recovery. Is there a way to have both? The answer to this question, rest solely on the family. There’s no real way to please everyone, all of the time. But what you can do, is talk about it as a family and with other, supportive, people. An addict in early recovery, forces us all to look at our own drinking. As a counselor, I encouraged my patients to stay out of slippery places. But what if those slippery places are in our homes? There is nothing wrong with drinking, in moderation. Alcohol is not the enemy, if you’re not an addict. Should we ask everyone at the table to abstain, for the sake of one? These are the questions you will have to ask yourself. Drinking can be a part of your family’s tradition and not everyone will be on the same page. It will help if you think back. Was this newly sober person, overly indulgent at family celebrations in the past? Did your family talk about it? Did you wish they would sober up? Did you agonize over them? Was their chair vacant, at most holidays? Did you wonder if they were even alive? Have conversations that include the person who is newly sober. Although you might not know it, these difficult talks encourage intimacy in families. Maybe we need to rethink our idea of a good time and start new, family traditions. We can toast rabbits, eggs, hot cross buns and the resurrection of Jesus, in crystal goblets with liquid that won’t cause more blood to be spilled. Chances are if there’s one addict in the family, there might be two. In my growing up family, there were three. There’ll be plenty of time to celebrate with a glass of wine, down the road. But those firsts, for anyone new to recovery, need to be safe. When I first left treatment I attended a family celebration. I was asked by a family member, if it bothered me that they were drinking. I shook my head, no. I didn’t think it would. But I was keenly aware of their open bottle of beer. I could taste it sliding down my throat. Sitting across the room from him, I could smell it. My salivary glands were in overdrive and suddenly, I had to get out of there. I felt like I was on the outside, looking in. What separated me from my family – was alcohol. Only now, I wasn’t the one drinking it. Addiction is cunning. My brain was plotting against me. At three in the morning, I crept out of bed. The household was asleep. I tiptoed to the kitchen and opened the fridge door. I stood eyeing a cold bottle of Blue. I plucked it from the fridge and held it against my chest. All that separated me, from it, was a twist off cap. My heart was pounding. I wanted it so bad. Just one sip, no one would ever know. I went from one sip, to where I could hide the empty bottle, in a heartbeat. Thankfully, I didn’t drink it. But not everyone is that lucky. You might ask the newly sober person would it bother them, if you drink this Easter. And they may say no. They might even believe it. Coming from experience, I can tell you this. They’ll be highly sensitive to the alcohol in the room. This will be the first time they see it, and smell it, since leaving rehab. You may have alcohol in the cupboard and in the fridge. There will be bad moments. Being a newly recovered addict is overwhelming, and that’s without the alcohol. If you’re still undecided, you can always ask yourself this question. What relationship holds more value, the alcohol in the glass, or the one with the newly, sober addict? To me, the choice is clear. If you’re looking for support or resources in your area, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 844-470-0410. Happy Easter! Lorelie Rozzano.
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