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Presence not Presents – Christmas as a Recovering Addict and a Mum

As a mother of 3 children I always found Christmas to be one of my favourite times of the year.

My house was always filled with Christmas decorations and had the facade of joy and laughter.

And I was always a proud single mum – my house on Christmas morning was always filled with everything material my kids had ever wanted.

But looking back on my last Christmas in active addiction I hold my head in shame.

Not only did I spend Christmas Eve high on drugs while preparing the kids toys for Christmas, but when Christmas morning came, I hadn’t been to bed or slept at all.

I looked at the clock at 5am and got changed into my PJ’s thinking I could outsmart the kids, that they would believe I had been to sleep.

Watching my children’s faces light up when they saw a room full of presents, in my mind, justified my using.

In my sick head I thought my kids had all the things they wanted. They did not know the gifts were bought from ill-gotten gains.

After spending the morning at home with just the kids it was time to head to my parents’ house for Christmas lunch.

Over the past 2 years I hadn’t really had much contact with my family. This made turning on Christmas day very nerve racking for me.

So I thought the only way I could deal with it was to have a 4ml plunge of GHB before leaving home and before starting the 45-minute drive to my parents’ home.

All dressed up for Christmas day, I loaded the kids into the car along with all the presents for the family.

This is when my addiction really showed its true form for the first time in 23 years of active addiction.

Looking back, I felt so ashamed.

Driving along a country road in Melbourne with my 3 children in the car I started ‘blowing out’, (which I have learnt in recovery is the closest thing to death, without actually dying), only to be awoken by my 11 year old daughter screaming “Mum, mum, you just fell asleep”, veering onto the dirt side of the road.

I remember waking and bringing the car back to the road.

This happened once more on the way to the family home, I remember putting my window down and saying to myself over and over again in my head…STAY AWAKE, STAY AWAKE…

Arriving at my family’s house, the first thing I did was go to the toilet and smoke ice as I knew this would over-ride what I had taken at home.

Not only was I shaking by the near miss in the car on the way over, but I realised if my daughter hadn’t woken me up, I could have killed my children on Christmas day.

Totally ashamed I believed the only thing that would get me through the day with the family was to take more drugs.

Looking back, now 18 months clean, I can see how truly sick I was, how clouded my judgement was, even though I thought the drugs made me more aware.

Worst of all, I now clearly knew my stupid actions had put mine and my children’s lives in danger.

I love my children dearly and they always had the best of everything, they had the best material things, but not the best mum I could be.

I wasn’t there for them the way a mother should be there for her children.

18 months on I am a proud mother in recovery.

I have a story I’m not very proud of. A story full of guilt and shame.

Past things that I am still working very hard to let go of, so they do not shape mine or my children’s future.

As Christmas comes around again I still have the memories of the horrors of that Christmas 2 years ago. Something or someone was definitely watching over us that day.

This Christmas is going to be totally different to any other Christmas my family is used to.

There will be very few presents under the tree, but my children will have me present for the day. They will have my presence, unconditionally.

Today, thanks to the addiction recovery program I completed, my children aren’t put in harms way anymore.

They have a mother who can attend to their needs appropriately. They have a mother who is 100% present and there for them in the moment. They have a mother who isn’t being consumed by how she is going to get the next hit.

And we will all have a family Christmas full of love, laughter and blessings.

Read more

How To Support An Addict In Recovery Over Christmas
An addict’s Christmas survival guide – Tis the season to stay sober
Women’s Addiction Treatment

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