And…. I’m feeling OK. This is a big CHANGE.
I have always maintained I don’t like Christmas. This goes back to fifteen years ago when I was suffering from postnatal depression and had to wait until the festivities were over before I could be admitted to an in patient unit. I don’t really remember much at all about that Christmas. I know I drank a lot of red wine and was taking heavy duty tranquillisers. I believe Mr So’s parents came to stay and I have a fuzzy recollection of cooking salmon at some point.
Since then, I have always seen Christmas as something to be got over as quickly and painlessly as possible. Wine has been my painkiller of choice.
With my new sober perspective (!) I can see that a large part of the reason why dreaded Christmas so much was related to my drinking. Increasingly, I had been conscious that I was drinking too much and that I needed to cut down. But I didn’t want to cut down, let alone stop. I needed to drink. I couldn’t imagine not drinking. I didn’t want to imagine not drinking.
At the same time as being conscious that I probably shouldn’t be drinking, I became fixated on there not being enough alcohol in the house to get me through. I would calculate how much to buy, based on an estimate of 2 bottles a day and then add some more just in case. BUT WOULD IT BE ENOUGH? What would happen if we went out to friends of family and they didn’t have enough alcohol or they didn’t open a bottle early enough or if they drank too slowly, too slowly for me that is ? What would I do if Mr So wanted to drink some of MY wine ?
I would scour gifts for bottle shaped packages which would give me some comfort that there would be enough. Last year I remember a friend gave me a bottle of alcohol free mulled cider. I was so disappointed when I opened it – what kind of gift was that ?
But that was then.
This year I don’t have any of that worry. I’m not drinking so I don’t have worry about whether I should drink, what to drink, how much to buy, and what to do if there isn’t enough. All those worries are gone. The relief is HUGE. All the time and energy I wasted ruminating and catastrophising can be more usefully directed towards decorating the house, wrapping gifts, baking mince pies (I made my first batch yesterday), enjoying rather than enduring Christmas concerts (I hated the fact that going to a school concert took up valuable drinking time). I will also make time for plenty of self care – getting my nails done, long soaks in the bath, invigorating walks in the winter sunshine.
For the first time I can remember, I can honestly say that not only am I not dreading Christmas this year, I am actually looking forward to it. Now that’s a turn up for the books !!