Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
What’s Under Your Christmas Tree? (Addiction In The Family)
Children all across the country are gearing up for Christmas as they countdown sleeps until the big day. Santa is on his way and he’s bringing toys for all the good boys and girls. Christmas is a magical time of the year. Our cupboards are overflowing with sweet treats. Presents are stacked up high under the tree. Everywhere we go; people are smiling and wishing us ‘Merry Christmas.” After months of hype, the season is finally upon us!
But sadly, Christmas isn’t merry, for all. If you happen to be the child, spouse or parent of an addict, chances are, all you’ll be getting for Christmas this year, is a lump of coal. But it doesn’t stop there. The holiday season can be an overwhelmingly intense experience, filled with emotional highs and lows. With addiction in the family, your moods may be dependent, on the addict’s.
To make matters worse, ‘tis the season’ to be jolly and well… drunk!
Drinks are being served everywhere, as we gather together to toast health and happiness for all! We’re more permissive and forgiving, during the holidays. A favorite uncle, who at any other time of the year may be lectured for overindulging, is served without question. We laugh and egg each other on. After all, it’s Christmas! A time to gorge, drink your face off, kick back and bend the rules a little. For some, Christmas is just one long bender.
But all the free flowing alcohol and overindulgence comes with a price. Drink enough and the gloves are off. We say things we might not, when sober. Christmas or not, drunk is still drunk and it’s not pretty. Our children are deeply affected. They aren’t dreaming of reindeer and sugar plums. They’re praying their parents won’t beat each other up. Some kids will be woken up in the wee hours of the morning to hear their parents arguing, swearing and screaming. They’ll hide underneath their beds feeling anxious and suffer from tummy aches. Others will wake up at grandparents because their parent or parents are missing in action. And some children will wake up to no presents at all because Mommy and Daddy spent all the money on their next fix.
As wonderful a time of year this is, there’s also a lot of pressure and expectations that go along with it. The holidays bring about an over-indulgence in everything we do. We shop and spend as if in a frenzy. We eat more than we need, gorging on turkey and sweets. Financial pressures are heavy. Many of us go into serious debt at Christmas. We rack up our credit cards vowing to pay them off after the holiday season is over. Addicts and alcoholics are particularly impulsive. They feel guilty and may go on a serious spending spree over the holidays, trying to make up for what they lack as a person and a parent. But some are never able to recoup financially and can barely make the interest payment on their credit cards.
For newly recovering addicts, there will be many challenges this holiday season.
Whether it be unhealthy family dynamics, financial pressures, late nights, or the alcohol being served from the moment we get up – coffee and Bailey’s, champagne and orange juice; Bloody Mary’s, beer chasers and wine – the temptation to ease the stress, is great.
For me, Christmas was just another reason to party. With the Christmas carols cranked up high, I’d wrap presents until the crack of dawn envisioning my children’s excitement as they opened them. But the harsh, sober reality, of the next morning, was seldom what I’d made it out to be, in my drunken, addled, state of mind.
Christmas morning arrived and my children could barely get me out of bed. What was even worse, there was no merry in my awakening. I was tired, grumpy and I just wanted to sleep. Ho, ho, ho, now get lost. I’d crawl back into bed after having done my Mommy duty and spend most of the day there.
To get back in the Christmas spirit I’d knock down a rum and eggnog or twelve, and be ready for the next round of festivities. Truth was, I hadn’t experienced a sober Christmas since I was a young girl. The discarded wrapping paper under our tree spoke volumes of this. Our home wasn’t merry. It was tense. And the biggest presents under my tree were the ones you couldn’t see. But see them or not, they were real. For under my tree was hurt, disappointment, pain, neglect and abandonment. Not the kind of gifts any child or family member wants to receive for Christmas, but sadly, many do.
This year why not start a new tradition?
There are many addicts and alcoholics who put off seeking help during the holiday season. They don’t want to leave their families at Christmas. But by staying, they’re only creating more hurt and disappointment.
This Christmas why not give them the best gift of all? The gift of life and a healthy, you.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1 888 614-2379