Christmas is a time for families and friends, but the majority of my Christmas’ have been full of shame. I’ve never really enjoyed Christmas because of my drinking and having to be around family for a prolonged period of time.
I remember loving the Christmas madness of drinking all day and all night and feeling like I was fitting in, it felt so normal because most people were up to exactly the same at that time of year.
As I mentioned in previous blogs, if someone else was drinking early it gave me the perfect excuse to do the same. The rest of the world were out for the night, but I did my best to make it an all-day event. I knew what I was doing wasn’t normal because I would lie about why I was drinking so early – the second you get defensive about your drinking is when alarm bells start to ring. I would never go to the same pub two days in a row as then they might suspect I was an alcoholic – I had all bases covered. The problem I had was I drank like it was Christmas most days of the week – you could never accuse me of lacking Christmas spirit! Christmas, however, was the one time I felt like I could relax and drink without judgement, but believe me when I say that’s a dangerous feeling for an alcoholic to have.
There were some extremely low points and shameful times for me at Christmas, which I feel it would be of benefit for me to share.
The most vivid memory I have was my last drunk Christmas. I had asked Mrs W for money to go and get her own Christmas and Birthday presents (which is very close to Christmas). I set off quite happily with a list in my head of what I was going to get her. I used to spend a lot on Mrs W but never actually thought about what I was buying.
I used to tell myself if it’s expensive she will like it and forget all the bad stuff that had happened all year round (again). I was basically trying to buy someone’s happiness, rather than just being there, which believe me would’ve been enough. Anyway, I was in town and decided to go for a pint and think about my strategy for shopping. As soon as I started drinking the list started to change with things gradually being removed. I was sitting in the pub at 11am and by 2pm had moved pub once and still not bought a single present. By this point I had spent a fair amount of the Christmas money buying some ‘new friends’ pints and half’s. I then had the ‘fantastic’ idea that I would go to casino and win all the money back. I walked into the casino, ordered two bottles of wine and set off to win the money back. Believe it or not, I was successful and the relief I had was frankly amazing. I left the casino with a spring in my step and headed to the shops, but because I was feeling so good about myself I thought I would head back to the pub to tell all my new friends what I had done – and buy a few celebratory drinks of course.
This was at around 5pm and by 7pm I had 15 pence to my name. It gets better – I then headed to a pawn shop to pawn the very watch that Mrs W had bought me, as well as my wedding ring. That was one of the most shameful things I ever did and still struggle to admit to this day. I got my hands on some money and bought Mrs W junk that year and lied to her by telling her that there would be more presents after Xmas, in truth there was nothing. I will always remember the disappointment on her face and never want to see that again. I was full of shame, until I got my next drink of course.
The Christmas time was always great for drinking but when it came to Christmas day I had with my family I hated it! I couldn’t drink the way that I usually would. I was always very nervous and agitated as I felt everyone was looking at how much I would be drinking. I would go into over-drive and hide drink so that I could get a quick hit. I hid vodka out in the back garden or outside the golf club and would go out for a ciggie and a quick slug of straight vodka. I knew this was wrong, of course I did, but it felt strangely right. It was just what I needed to do to enjoy Christmas but it never worked, I would be full of shame for weeks and before I knew it, Christmas was over.
Mrs W did everything at Christmas and generally hated every second of it. It was my fault though, we were supposed to be a team, but as usual, it was all about me. Christmas is a joyful time for most, but if you’re an alcoholic it can be the darkest time of year. Stay safe this Christmas.
I love being sober.