Tuesday, December 22, 2009


We're heading in to the home stretch for the holidays, and there is a lot going on. My To Do list gets longer every day: food shopping, cleaning, last minute gifts to buy. I'm swamped with holiday jewelry orders. Yesterday I got that overwhelmed panicky feeling - oh my God, I thought, I can't get it all done.

I was running around all day; I didn't sit down for one second. By the end of the day my head was swirling, and I decided to go to bed early, catch up on some rest and tackle the list the next day. It took me a long while to fall asleep; my brain wouldn't stop circling around and around, trying to make it all fit. I finally nodded off, and I had a dream.

I haven't had one of these in a while - a drinking dream. In my dream it is Christmas Morning. The kids are ripping open presents and squealing in delight. My husband has the video camera rolling, recording their happiness. I am curled on the couch, feeling awful. I'm hungover, my head hurts, my mouth is dry. All I can think about is whether I have enough alcohol hidden in the house to get me through Christmas - all the liquor stores are closed. I duck into the bathroom and search frantically under the folded towels for a bottle, my heart pounding. I take a pull off the bottle and sink to the floor, full of anguish and despair.

I wake up in a cold sweat, frantic. Did I really drink? It takes me a good minute or two to orient myself, to realize it was only a dream.

As my heart rate slows, I breathe a sigh of relief. I get out of bed and tiptoe into the kids' room - they are sound asleep, curled up together in Finn's bed. In the quiet predawn darkness, I get down on my knees and say a prayer of thanks. Thank you for my family, I think. Thank you for my rich, full, busy life. Thank you for the freedom from addiction.

Today my To Do list doesn't seem so long, or so daunting. Three years ago, Christmas was awful. I still had seven more months of drinking left, but I didn't know it then. All I felt was stuck. Unimaginably, irretrievably, stuck. There was no To Do list - it took all of my energy to get up in the morning and get the kids to school. Days were spent in a haze of anxiety and guilt. I managed to get gifts, barely, but when my husband and I settled in to wrap everything Christmas Eve, there was no wrapping paper, no tape. He was furious with me, and I hated myself. Three years ago the dream I had last night was my living nightmare.

So instead of adding to my To Do list, today I made a list of things I am grateful for:

Greta's big toothless smile.

The weight of Finn in my lap as we settle in to watch a movie.

The kids' squeals of delight when we lit the star on the top of the tree.

Finn belting out his version of 'Santa Claus is Coming To Town': "you bettah not pount, you bettah not cwy, be goodness for goodness sake!!"

Stashing gifts for my family, not bottles of wine, in the back of the closet.

Greta curled up in front of the tree, admiring the ornaments and asking questions about each one.

Finn dressed as Santa - a getup the two of them put together all on their own, including the taped-on beard.

A loving glance from my husband.

Feeling at peace with myself.

Have a joyful holiday season, everyone. I'm grateful for you, too.



  1. Thanks for reminding me. Making my list today too.

  2. Merry Christmas. I wish you nothing but great success in the future!

  3. Wishing you Peace!
    Merry Christmas.

  4. Merry Christmas. You've earned it.

  5. Your prayer of thanksgiving has me in tears. Youngest son is home. Only daughter is on her way, another 5 hours yet to drive. Oldest son and his wife will be here in 2 days. We both know this wouldn't be happening if freedom from addiction wasn't a reality in my life. Hugs.

  6. I wanted to come and tell you I saw you on Oprah. Watching my DVR oh a few months later but I watched and saw the preview. I was all that is Ellie! I read her, I remember her through Liz.

    I think you are a wonderful strong woman and lucky. Addiction is awful and you should be so proud of yourself.

  7. I think your blog is one of the best things I've found this year. I'm so grateful that you do what you do and that you share it with us.
    Amen! to freedom from addiction.

    And Merry Christmas to you and yours, Ellie!