The holidays are a time to reflect on family, friends, food and fun. These all play into our cultural image of the season. Could I also bring to light the holiday element of addiction and its influence on families? This aspect should not be ignored because of its adverse impact and the trauma inflicted upon those we love and care for, whether directly or indirectly.
I dreaded the holidays as a child; when all the relatives would get together to “eat, drink and be merry.” The problem was that one person’s version of eat, drink and be merry, was another person’s “consume, intoxicate, and abuse.” My memories of holidays were mixed with joy and heartache to the point of regret and avoidance. My family relished the indulgence of selfish addictive behaviors, specifically alcohol consumption and other vices, which made my holidays a time of heartache and sorrow. There were times of love and caring before the drinking and arguments started, after which the entire home’s atmosphere changed from joy to chaos. This was the opportunity for the young people, me included, to sequester ourselves to a safer part of the house that excluded inebriated adults, coarse language and abusive behaviors.
This made holidays an odd time for me; experiencing the family’s dysfunctional lifestyle up close and personal. It was an ‘American Classic’ that I am pretty sure Norman Rockwell would never have painted; and yet, it is a familiar scenario for many families at this time of year.
Today, I do not indulge in those old behaviors; however, addiction has tainted my lifestyle just the same. Instead of alcohol, sexual addiction has been my replacement addiction with its disconnection from family. Sexual addiction is as destructive as the alcohol addictions that contaminated my childhood experiences. However, I have chosen not to indulge in these thoughts and behaviors any longer. I will not allow sexual addiction to destroy any hope for change. I now work at connection, communication and commitment as a foundational aspect of my daily life to cultivate meaningful relationships with my family. It took some work to get free of my addiction and to break the patterns of the past that I had learned from my childhood.
I pray that your holidays are a time to connect with family and friends in an honest manner. I long for a true relationship with my loved ones on a heart level instead of the counterfeit that comes when someone in the house has an addiction. This is what makes the family holidays truly memorable and special. Merry Christmas to you and your family.