Magazine

December 2013: Alone for the holidays

Her AA friends were all leaving town, and she was miles away from home. Sponsor to the rescue!

When I was new in sobriety, the holidays downright scared me. I didn’t even know if my family was willing to speak to me. I couldn’t afford anything—not even Christmas cards. Plus all my new AA friends were flying home for the holidays. I was miles away from the ones I loved. Now came the pressure to stay sober.

Could I make it through the holiday season and stave off the horrid memories of selfishly ruining family get-togethers in the past? I began having total recall from last year’s Thanksgiving, when I was so drunk I overdosed in the living room in front of my mom and uncle. They had to rush me to the hospital. The guilt and shame began creeping up as November reared its ugly head. My first Thanksgiving came before my first Fourth Step, and I was a walking character defect.

My sponsor began to calm me down. She taught me about self-care and the things I could do to prepare myself for the busy holiday season. I took my sponsor’s advice and doubled up on my meetings. Every night I increased my prayer time by five minutes, and in the morning I did the same with my meditation. I knew my mother was feeling depressed, so I called her once a week starting in November and tried to cheer her up as best I could.

On Thanksgiving a local clubhouse was having meetings around the clock with tons of food and fellowship. So I went and checked it out. What I found was an outpouring of love and acceptance, a complete gift on a beautiful holiday. All of us drunks gave thanks together; I found the warmest family I could ever wish for.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I got plenty of rest, went to as many meetings as I could, and took care of my spiritual condition. I checked in with my sponsor often and got involved in service. On Christmas day I headed over to the clubhouse to help serve food and clean up. I even chaired a marathon AA meeting that ended at midnight.

The rewards of doing service for others, connecting to God and taking care of myself paid off. My heart was full, and although I missed my family back home, I found more than I ever bargained for. By the time the New Year came, I felt like I had earned my place in AA. I was right where I was supposed to be. I have never forgotten my first sober holiday season.

—Ali B., Delray Beach, Fla.