Niki T – Hanley Alum
The most notable family tradition for me and my family for a long time was my absence. I was in active addiction and the holidays for me were just another monotonous day, no different than any other, where I had to focus on what I needed to do to get my next drink or drug. The rest of my family carried on without me; they would get together for the holidays, have big dinners, exchange gifts, enjoy my grandma’s famous trifle dessert and simply enjoy everyone’s presence on those special holidays.
After my daughter was born I began to spiral out of control again right as my family was gearing up for the holiday season with a first grandchild. While everyone else was overjoyed to celebrate these monumental events, my self-will was losing the battle with my mental obsession and I began to drink again. The week before my daughter’s first Christmas, when most new parents are Christmas shopping and creating photo shoots with their children, I was using again and wound up back in jail.
I was blessed with a miracle when I was given the opportunity to bond out of jail to go to treatment.
It was a difficult week, but eventually, I flew back down to Florida for what seemed to me like a last-ditch effort to hopefully get sober. I arrived at Hanley on Christmas Eve, the first day I didn’t put a substance in my body for years. I woke up in detox after what felt like days when a kind RA told me I was coming over to the women’s unit on Christmas day.
I spent the holiday season in treatment, 90 days total, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to begin a new holiday tradition.
I celebrated my 27th birthday, the first sober one in as long as I could remember, surrounded by people who were actually happy to celebrate me!
It’s been almost three years since then and by the grace of God I haven’t picked up a drink or drug since. I have been able to be present for the first time in years at family gatherings, where I look forward to nothing more than being in good company. Since getting sober I started working in treatment and I have spent every Christmas since back in treatment, though now it’s because I’m working!
I remember how filled with fear and shame I was that I was missing all these milestone ‘firsts’ in my daughter’s life when I got sober.
I remember being a trembling ball of nerves with no purpose or direction and feeling all alone on that Christmas day until a kind woman took my hand and made me feel a part of the celebration that was taking place on the women’s unit. Now I have the same opportunity to share my experience with getting sober during the holidays and if nothing more, lend my presence on that day. I’m blessed with the opportunity to wake up and do Christmas morning with my daughter every year now; but after the presents are opened and we share a huge Christmas lunch, I get to do something amazing. I go to work. I have the opportunity to share my experience with people who are struggling with the same feelings I was when I got sober.
The greatest gift of all is the ability to start a new holiday tradition with my presence.
I am eternally grateful my those staff members that gave their holiday to be with me when I was getting sober. I have been restored to sanity and now I am filled with joy to have the opportunity to do the same!
Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 844-501-4673