This time of year is terrible for me. It’s a lot of hustle and bustle, promises of better times in the coming year, get-togethers everywhere with lots of drinks, lights, red clothes, Santa Clauses. It seems like everyone goes into happiness-at-any-cost mode (sometimes very expensive) and that has always saddened me. Is very.
It’s weird: it turns into November, happiness arrives for everyone with sparkles, parties, trips. I always catch myself thinking: doesn’t anyone get sad like me? NOBODY? One of the characteristics of my alcoholism is anxiety. Seeing everyone in this frantic race doesn’t do me any good.
I’ve felt this way since I was little. I have a Super 8 video of a Christmas party. I was nine years old and cried a lot, holding onto my mother’s legs. The crazy thing was that she was saying some nice words to those present. In the recording, the antithesis is clear: the mother thanking her for her blessings and the daughter crying with a face of fear and anguish.
I remember that day perfectly. I couldn’t interact, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I thought I was melting, disappearing, dying. That was a panic attack, I know now, but on that happy night that we would all sing together in choir happy-night-happy-night-oh-lord-god-of-love-poor-little-born-in-Bethlehem, I just I wanted all those people to go away so I could lie down. That I didn’t need to be dressed up. I didn’t want to see Santa Claus arrive, I didn’t want a present.
This was a slap in the face to partygoers: SHE’S WEIRD, WHAT’S GOING ON? I think that year in which I was very ill made me realize that November is like a pressure cooker. At first it’s ok, then it starts to buzz, and there are invitations, traffic, the rush for gifts, appointments, toasts, a thousand get-togethers and BOOOM, it explodes on the day of the party. Celebrating is, with very few exceptions, toasting and drinking. Or am I too exaggerated? I see from the gatherings I’ve been to: they all have alcohol as the main guest. Except those inside rehabilitation clinics…
But I wanted to tell you that after I joined Alcoholics Anonymous, I’ve been looking at the brighter side of life and trying not to get into that. The first time I entered an AA room was the end of October. If I already felt destroyed and had no desire to live, that time of year could make my condition even worse. I started talking about it. I especially remember one lady from the group. When I started whining it’s-the-end-of-the-year-I-didn’t-do-anything, and continued I-don’t-have-plans-for-anything, she immediately hugged me: Girl, from now on it’s one day at a time. Just for today. And that hit me in the head like a relief. And she added: From now on, you don’t have to do anything. Did you understand?
My God, it was liberation, I could finally say no, I could not want to go to parties, to toxic meetings (as they say nowadays). Not only the words, but the hug from that lady were breathtaking. And from dialogues like this, from people who feel or have gone through the same affliction, fear and sadness, everything became easier, especially at this time of year. I’m not alone in this. I then knew the answer to the question in the first paragraph.
Today I respond to the invitations: no, thank you, I appreciate the wonderful year we spent together, but I won’t be able to attend. Very friendly and assertive. And it changed my life. I don’t have to be present at anything else. I don’t have to go into a frenetic rhythm, I can listen to myself and know what’s best for me. I don’t need to see ALL THE WORLD of the family I haven’t seen all year. As much as I often act like a pain in the ass, I always remember that lady and the thousands of people who are in support groups to get through this end-of-year chaos. I need to think about myself. Support groups, during this period, intensify. There are Christmas and New Year marathons precisely so that no one experiences anything alone. This brutal strength of the group makes all the difference.
I still want to talk more about this period here on the blog. But today I look at that little Alice in the video and try to recognize her in some child out there. It’s really difficult to enter the world and feel inadequate. Living is not easy at all and we do not arrive with an instruction manual. Mainly in relation to feelings. This cannot be taught at all. I’m sure that it takes help, listening, dialogue from a young age to try to ease, especially in the most sensitive, the pain of growing up.
So, on my heavy days: I don’t stay alone in my anguish, I talk more about my feelings and I avoid what bothers me as much as possible. Friends, stay strong this time of year. It’s damn hard to get through unscathed, especially if the person is an alcoholic. But it is quite possible. I’ve been in peace for a few years now. Thank you for your company so far and you can write to me if you have any questions. I am very interested in being with those who experience the same pain.
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