The most powerful craving I’ve had for a drink came about a year ago. I was in my room wrapping presents on Christmas Eve and wanted a glass of Christmas cheer so badly, I burst into tears. I should have seen the trigger coming since I’d been drunk-wrapping for years. It made the tedious act more tolerable somehow…it made me swear less when I played the inevitable, perpetual game of hide-the-tape-and-scissors with myself. Plus kids tend to look the other way when it comes to Santa’s sloppy wrapping skills.
I was in a bad way all-around last December. I had recently decided to wean off an anti-depressant known for its serotonin-withdrawal effects, so I was already in a fragile state. At least I was going to regular meetings then, and at one a woman I’d never met before said “I have something for you” and while I turned to see who she was talking to, she disappeared and returned with an issue of the grapevine and said “You look like you could use this.” The cover showed a messy swirl of holiday lights with the headline Un-Crazy Holidays. I went from being alone and scared to feeling like my recovery was part of something bigger. I still don’t know who that woman was, but I’ll never forget her kindness.
This December, so far anyway, has been the polar opposite of last year. I went through a rough period in late summer/early fall, and part of that was fear of the upcoming holidays. I was afraid history would repeat and our wrapping paper would again turn soggy from my tears. But the past is not the present. Time in recovery has given me tools I either didn’t have last year or wasn’t using.
When I met with my doctor last month for an annual med-check, we both decided it was best for me to stay on the anti-depressant I’ve been on for the last year. No, I don’t want to take something for the rest of my life, but it’s side-effect free and, anyway, right before the holidays is a terrible time to make a medication change. I’ve learned I’m no superhero and that my life is much easier when I respect my limits.
I also feel more prepared this holiday season, possibly because an early Thanksgiving gave a jumpstart to the holidays. It occurred to me this morning that I could start wrapping one or two things at a time. Part of last year’s meltdown was because I’d saved all of it for the last minute and I was feeling unmotivated and overwhelmed.
When it is time to wrap presents, I plan to introduce a couple new tools to the process. When I first saw an ad for the pop-up tape handband, I hadn’t felt like a product was designed so specifically for me since the onion goggles (and I still don’t own a pair of those <frownie face>). I don’t know if I’ll ever see a pair of scissors I can safely strap to myself, but at least there’s one less thing to lose under layers of gift wrap paraphernalia.
This year I will also reintroduce a cup of Christmas cheer when I wrap presents. Instead of booze, I’ll go for a mug of Trader Joe’s Peppermint Hot Chocolate, which the husband picked up and I admit I was skeptical until I tried it. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually looking forward to wrapping gifts this year, yet another example of how our perspective can change in small, miraculous ways in sobriety.