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Happy Sober Holidays

glass christmas ornament

In October 2012, I wrote a post claiming that I knew I was a better person when I didn’t drink. After a summer filled with “trips around the world” (a.k.a. drinking multiple bottles of wine in one evening, all from different countries), beer gardens and too many 8-packs of Strongbow, a couple of my relationships with friends and family had been so deeply affected by my own relationship with alcohol that I knew I had to give it up.

And I did – for a while. Being so new to Toronto, I felt like I could reform myself. I didn’t have many friends in the city, and I didn’t want any of the new friends I made to ever know how much I loved to drink. I was dubbed “Sober Sally”, but I wore the name proudly. I attended dinners and parties, where I sipped sparkling water or soda all night, then left early before “the real fun” began. I caught up on sleep, woke up hangover-free, and got back into a somewhat normal and productive routine.

Then everything changed in late November. On one particular night, I was treated to an intimate five-course dinner with people I’d never imagined I would have the chance to meet. The dinner was meant to be paired with wine, but I gracefully declined each bottle that was presented. I did not, however, stop counting – other people’s glasses, that is. I watched as each sip made their cheeks a little rosier; their laughs a little greater. I should’ve left the event feeling grateful, but instead I was shaken.

From there, I met a friend at a bar on Queen Street West. We were seeing a local Victoria band play live, and I wanted to drink. After 45 days of not drinking (yes, I was counting), I decided to buy a beer. I¬†guzzled it like you would a glass of water after a hard workout. The cold, rounded glass fit perfectly in my small palm – almost as though it belonged there. And yet, when I finished it, I began to pick at the label obsessively, knowing I’d just given up 45 days of sobriety and there was no going back on that decision.

Over the next month, I drank every chance I could. I got blackout drunk at our office Christmas party. I got blackout drunk in New York. I took chances that I never would have while sober. And things only got worse when I went home to Victoria. Most of my memories from Christmas last year include trying to piece together more blackout nights while hungover the next morning. The only morning I did not wake up hungover was Christmas… but I did get blackout drunk again that night.

On the morning of December 29th, I woke up knowing I couldn’t keep going at the rate I was. I was filling so many voids with alcohol; soothing hurt feelings with warm bellies and lonely days with eventful nights. I was ignoring the things that were causing me to drink all month long; some were the same things that had caused me to drink so much the summer before. On New Year’s Eve, I soberly drove from party-to-party, hugging and kissing my friends goodbye. I got on a plane back to Toronto early the next morning and knew I never wanted my holidays to feel that empty again.

This is the only post I’m going to publish this week. For the next seven days, I’m going to soak up every minute I can with family and friends – the people who have stood behind every crazy decision I’ve made this year, especially the one to stay sober. And the most beautiful thing about this Christmas is that I will remember every single minute of it. There’s nothing I can be more thankful for than that.

Happy holidays, friends.

xo

Flickr: mako_side_b

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Have a wonderful holiday, Cait. You should feel great about your sober resolve, it’s kind of like living within your means, isn’t it? It takes such a strong personal commitment, and often, well meaning friends may try to convert you back to the old life. Good for you! :)

    December 23, 2013
  2. Congratulations on sharing a year of sobriety with us – that is a huge accomplishment! Enjoy your time with friends and family. Here’s to a memorable Christmas break. Happy Holidays.

    December 23, 2013
  3. Congratulations on one year sober! Merry Christmas!

    December 23, 2013
  4. Dayle #

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Cait!

    December 23, 2013
  5. So proud of you for using a new start as an opportunity to make yourself into the kind of person you want to be. Have a wonderful holiday with many great memories.

    December 23, 2013
  6. Thanks for being so brave, Cait! I am glad you are sober now and doing well. I hope you have a great time with your family.

    December 23, 2013
  7. I cried reading through this post Cait. Congrats on one year of sobriety. Happy holidays friend. xo

    December 23, 2013
  8. Love this post lady. You’re amazingly strong. I’ve never been much of a drinker (I really can have 1-2 glasses of wine a few times per year and be done with it all) but someone I know quite well is just as you described as your former self and it scares me. Her husband thinks shes just a good time at parties but I, as the sober one 99% of the time, can see beyond it. It’s amazing what you see as the sober one in a room full of people drinking…anyway when you end up on a plane home from your Cuban vacation with alcohol poisoning I think it’s suffice to say you’re beyond ”having a good time”. I worry about her especially since she tells me they want to get pregnant….

    Enjoy the week off with your family making memories you’ll cherish forever!

    PS- future blog topic for you: How being honest with your money/spending allowed you to become honest with your ‘true’ self….I see the connection ;)

    December 23, 2013
  9. Amazing post Cait! Congrats on one year! It’s not easy going against the norm, you’re a strong person. Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year :)

    December 23, 2013
  10. Congratulations on the incredible, beautiful progress you have made this year. And thank you for sharing this post with us. I can’t speak for everyone, for sure, but this resonated with me and I am sure it will do the same with others. I hope you have a lovely holiday with your friends and family, Cait!

    December 23, 2013
  11. Cait. You are an amazing lady. This is an amazing post. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings you. Merry Christmas!

    December 23, 2013
  12. Cait, this post made me teary-eyed. I am very proud of you for staying sober for the whole year! I have had a couple of nights out this year and have been hangover twice (both times in December, I blame the festive season :P), and to be honest I am not looking forward to the next time. Maybe there will be no next time! ;) You’re not missing out on anything, that’s for sure! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2014! xo

    December 23, 2013
  13. I admire you for coming to grips with something that is leading you in a direction you don’t want to go. Even if you fall, you get right back up and try again. Merry Christmas, my friend, may 2013 be a great one. :)

    December 23, 2013
  14. Loved this post, Cait. I’m so proud of you for staying sober and being so positive about it. You’re an inspiration! Merry Christmas :)

    December 23, 2013
  15. Rob #

    Cait, you’ve accomplished so much this year, almost finished – getting fully debt free and having the discipline to not give in to drink. We all are very proud and happy to share in reading of your accomplishments. Your career has been growing by leaps and bounds and – lucky you – you made the move back out to BC. I say “lucky you” cuz we’ve been freezing our buns off here in Toronto, due to our recent big ice storm where over 350,000 of us lost power. After 2 days we just got ours back. And no, I didn’t drink a drop to keep warm! :-)

    Merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year, my friend.

    December 24, 2013
  16. Super strong post, lady.

    I hope your holidays have been magical (you deserve it!)

    December 27, 2013
  17. All I can say about this post is that you are amazing Cait. I don’t drink and I haven’t since I was a teenager. I come from a long line of a family filled with drinkers, some have been to rehab and not recovered. Some have had close to fatal car accidents with their kids and some have lost it all including their families and their businesses – and they still drink. I don’t want that type of burden in my life so I make the choice not to drink. I’m 33 and I love it. I can go out and have a great time and not buying drinks saves me a lot of money. You made the right choice Cait and I think you will find that you love life a lot more when you are sober. Good luck on your journey and Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    December 28, 2013

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