The Greatest Gift

I’ve had a difficult and confusing relationship with the holidays throughout the course of my life. As a child, I used to cherish them and anticipate them with excitement and glee. Then when I grew up, I initially saw them as a non-stop party; an excuse to drink all I wanted without anyone looking at me funny for it. As my drinking got worse and I started alienating more and more people in my life, I grew to dread the holidays: the compulsory gatherings, the pitiful looks, the sideways glances…everything. After a while I just found them to be downright intolerable.

For me, holiday gatherings became a gut-wrenching reminder of how much I’d screwed up everything in my life. Whenever I looked at my cousins with their new babies, I’d think about how my marriage went bust; whenever somebody told about a promotion they got at work, I would scowl at them because my career was in shambles; whenever somebody mentioned a new house or car they bought, I would just think about how all my money was tied up in alimony and legal fees. It was impossible for me to feel glad for anyone and I’m pretty sure it showed on my face.

For a few years before I quit drinking, I just elected not to go to any holiday parties or see anyone or answer anybody’s phone calls. The last Christmas I spent by myself, I had nothing but time to sit and think of why I was alone. I had let alcohol control my life to the point where it turned me inside-out and made me a stranger among my own family. I suppose I have that last solitary Christmas to thank for my recovery. I started thinking about how to quit drinking and the following March, I entered alcohol rehab.

I expected the treatment process to the standard, boiler-plate routine you always hear about: dry out, talk to a shrink and tell them what they want to hear…the rest of the work, I would do on my own. What I experienced was something completely different. As intense as detox was, I actually found the raw, emotive elements of counseling to be even more taxing. Some of the issues I discussed with my therapist were deeply embedded in my conscience to the point that they were almost hard-wired into thoughts and behavior. It was like someone tore my heart out, fixed what was wrong with it and put it back in me.

I set out to find the best Florida treatment center available. What I found was, in my humble opinion, the best treatment center, period. Thanks largely to my time in rehab, I have reconnected with my family and they’ve been incredibly supportive in my recovery. I’ve spent the last two holiday seasons alcohol-free and am starting to recapture the joy and excitement I used to feel whenever December rolled around.

Frank A.
Roselle Park, NJ