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Christmas Past vs Christmas Present

Old 12-15-2017, 09:05 AM
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Christmas Past vs Christmas Present

When I was drinking, Christmas used to be quite a complicated time for me. I could hide for a bit under the illusion that I was fine because everyone else also seemed to be drinking all the time. Saying 'Hey, it's Christmas' to myself or my partner was always the perfect excuse or at least I thought so at the time.

But with the end of Christmas I always suddenly felt exposed. I was forced to acknowledge again that my drinking was atypical. And strangely this was somewhat of a relief in a way. I used to romanticise my own drunken life as being excitingand fun and think that the lives of all part-time, Christmas drinkers must be boring. Who would want lives like that? Well, me, as it turned out lol, and what I thought would be a boring life has turned out to be a much more interesting and fulfilling one.

This is the first Christmas I will not be feeling all this again which is a huge relief!
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Old 12-15-2017, 09:23 AM
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Congratulations, Aleric.
It is a tough time of year, no question.
Peace.
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Old 12-15-2017, 09:27 AM
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Thanks Maudcat and the same to you - I think peace will be the big difference this year!
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Old 12-15-2017, 10:12 AM
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This is going to be my first sober Christmas too Aleric and yeah I'm with you on it being a different experience. Other years I would spend the mornings hung right over and sorry that I'd gotten so sauced. I took eat drink and be merry to whole new levels! It's good to be sober. Glad all of that is behind us!

Onward!
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Old 12-15-2017, 10:17 AM
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Once you notch a few Holidays or Birthdays under your proverbial Belt, my experience is that such Sober Markers become The New Normal. I have no interest in Booze Replacements like NA Beer. So, drinking something like fizzy Grape Juice is just fine by me. It's a special exception for Holidays. My other fall-backs are Lemonade, or Seltzer. Flavored or not.

The one mental imperative I observe is to not wind up the only non-Drinker at some Holiday Dinner. PITA. As a Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Sticker goes: 'If It's Not Fun, Why Do It?' <- Sums it up for me. It's not because I'm worried about grabbing and swilling some Champagne. Can't stand the smell, really. It's because I'd rather nap up against a Cactus than sit around while Folks purportedly enjoy their Alcohol swilling as some perfunctory part of 'Celebrating'. I staunchly believe they have their right to celebrate in that manner. In turn, I have a right to enjoy a Sober environment as a matter of, shall we say, Equal Rights. My rarely-drinking Wife abstains if she wants me to go to such Holiday Dinners. My sense of obligation to The Drinking World is a big ole zero.

I believe that stripping out Alcohol from Holidays or Concerts or watching Sports is an essential aspect of re-tooling my Brain to not retain Alcohol as some sort of Event-associated, go-to Beverage. This strategy has worked well for me; even when I [rarely] have to get kinda militant about it. Ain't nobody gonna watch out for my Sobriety except me. And, I'm totally cool with that...
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Old 12-15-2017, 11:34 AM
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I used to treat the Christmas holidays as a green light to drink every day, even years before drinking really became a major problem. I'd take the days between Christmas and New Year's off, and stay drunk more or less the whole time. My wife and mother in law would buy me booze as presents, since they knew that's what I really wanted the most, and that was another green light - have to show my appreciation, right? Eventually it wasn't even about holiday parties, it was about the excuse to spend my waking hours drinking at home, for a whole week.

My last drink was in this same time period, in 2010, and that Christmas was absolute hell. I'll never, ever forget the horrible nightmare that alcohol became for me, and it will always be associated with Christmas because that's when I was at my lowest low.

My first sober Christmas was a scary, since it really was the first since I was in my early teens, and since the previous Christmas I had been in hell. But making it through the holidays, happily and resolutely sober, was a huge boost for my self-confidence and sober stability. We can all do it, and we'll be much stronger on the other side come Jan. 1st.
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Old 12-16-2017, 03:51 AM
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I'm sure a lot of stress at Christmas comes from pressure to feel happy. My partner works at a primary school and has roped me into being one of the Shepherds in a school event this afternoon with my dog dressed up as a sheep. The children will be walking around the local area and Wise men and Shepherds and so on will be strategically placed along the route. I'll be in a park with two other Shepherds who I've met before and who I know will be throwing themselves into the part, and my dog will love the attention. I have a feeling though that I'm going to have to make an effort because I think I'm going to be bored as I have seldom been bored before. I'm 100% confident though that I can do this PITA thing without a drink!
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Old 12-16-2017, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Maudcat View Post
Congratulations, Aleric.
It is a tough time of year, no question.
Peace.
What's so tough about it?
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Old 12-17-2017, 02:03 PM
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Not answering for Maudcat but I agree with her when she says that Christmas is an especially tough time or at least, because I've not yet had a sober Christmas since I started drinking, I suspect it is especially tough.

I think if we were only talking about the ideal then it wouldn't be tough at all but we don't always achieve the ideal. For myself, I made a BP, a decision to quit drinking for good. Having done that, whenever I experience AV I try to objectify it as far as I can. One technique that works for me is picturing myself sitting in a theatre experiencing the AV. Why a theatre I don't know and it's not really important but perhaps it represents a mental shift from observing the world to introspectively observing myself.

Practicing techniques like this separates my from my AV and brings me back to my desired mindset in which I made my decision to quit. And then I can calmly watch my AV play itself out in a detached kind of way. This usually happens without much effort on my part but sometimes I find it tough. I may fail to objectively my AV because I'm distracted by other things, or I'm feeling too lazy and this gets me caught up in drinking thoughts where it becomes harder to extricate myself from it. Harder but never impossible if I really try. I am always absolutely confident that the AVRT practice of recognition and separation will work, it's just that I sometimes finder it harder for one reason or another to put it into practice. Like now, at Christmas.
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Old 12-17-2017, 02:16 PM
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Really brill Technique, and Perspective. TY for this...
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Old 12-17-2017, 02:28 PM
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Well, thank you, and thanks for all your Mesa, I mean mega, posts!
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Old 12-17-2017, 06:38 PM
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It is a tough time of year
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Old 12-17-2017, 09:34 PM
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Welcome, dominic!
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Old 12-21-2017, 12:32 PM
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Just wanted to take some time out to write this because people here have helped me greatly. I'm sure a lot of what I say doesn't help anyone.and probably does the opposite but I hope this may help someone.

It seems right then to share this even though we are all anonymous. Just quickly then, my beautiful sister passed on today. I was s please that I don't drink because I was able to drive across the country to say my goodbyes and just to have been there for her husband and children. And drink never crossed.my mind once. I hope that may encourage someone. Will be offline for a while.
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Old 12-21-2017, 01:42 PM
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Aleric, I'm sorry for your loss. You have helped many here, im sure.

It is good to be able to be present for family and others in hard times. Im going thru that w my dad in hospice. I am glad to be sober for it.

Peace to you.
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Old 12-21-2017, 02:19 PM
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So sorry for your loss, take care
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Old 12-22-2017, 02:27 AM
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Aleric, I am so sorry for your loss. Please take great care of yourself. I’m so glad you stopped drinking and are able to offer support to your sister’s husband and children.

Your posts on SR have helped me enormously, even though I’d stopped drinking prior, your special insight and thought provoking questions and observations, added additional cement to my sobriety foundation.

You and your family will be in my thoughts this Christmas .
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Old 12-22-2017, 02:37 AM
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Tursiops, I’m so sorry to hear that your Dad is in a hospice. I do hope that he is comfortable. Please take great care of yourself .

My Dad is still ill and hospitalised, awaiting the outcome of tests, to determine whether further heart surgery is possible. I fear that it won’t be. I am so grateful for my sobriety and thereby, being able to give my Dad the ‘gift’ of fully present me, not the shadow of myself that I became when drinking.
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Old 12-22-2017, 08:05 AM
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My heartfelt condolences to you Aleric. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's good that you will be able to go through your grieving process sober, as hard as it will be at least it will be authentic instead of glossed over through the haze of drunkenness.

Best to you and your family xxoo
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Old 12-22-2017, 08:08 AM
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My best to both turisops and Tatsy as you care for your fathers. My parents are aging too and are going through issues. It's not easy to go through. I'm glad we are all able to be present and clear minded to help those we love.
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