Jennifer Maneely

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PHONE: 828-301-2028

What my first Christmas looked like clean/sober

Weird. That's the best way I can describe my first Christmas clean/sober. I was sad too, I got clean/sober fairly young and I remember growing up desiring to drink with the rest of the family so I couldn't wait to be of age so I could do it (legally).


I wanted to "fit in" with the rest of the family, so when I developed a substance abuse issue, I felt like an outcast. Now, to be clear, it wasn't true. I wasn't an outcast but those first couple of years clean/sober, I felt like I didn't belong...anywhere. So, being around the family I so wanted to fit into was slightly awkward.


I would find myself often times needing to disappear in the corner and gather myself as I felt so very alone. I was embarrassed, I didn't hardly know how to have conversations about things that weren't recovery related.


I would go outside and call my friends because I just needed a sense that someone understood me. I didn't feel like my family could really ever understand me.


But, over the years, I have learned those feelings weren't actually true. It wasn't that my family didn't understand me, it was that I didn't understand myself. As I grew in my community outside of recovery, I was able to have conversations again that weren't so forced and awkward. I grew to accepting myself so my embarrassment turned to my greatest gift and strength.


Don't get me wrong, I am still socially awkward but no more or no less than anybody else, and I remember the only person that ever makes me feel like an outcast is myself. I can choose to belong, or I can choose to be lonely and feel weird.


The thing I am most grateful for today is my family, and the fact that I never have to feel like I felt my first Christmas, and I did that by continuing to show up for myself.


To all of those who will struggle with their families this Christmas, remember this one thing, you are not alone.

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