HowStuffWorks Stars Share Their Favorite Holiday Memories

Experiencing a New Kind of Holiday Clarity

Photo: Kristina Wandzilak, host of Discovery Fit & Health's hit show Addicted.
Photo: Kristina Wandzilak, host of Discovery Fit & Health's hit show Addicted.

I have been sober now a long time. I have had the privilege of having 19 sober holidays, filled with family, laughter and warmth.

It would be difficult to choose one of the 19 that has been better than the others. Each holiday has been a new experience, as I grow into a new person, sober and clean. With each passing year I am better able to enjoy my family and friends, as I become more secure with myself and at peace with my past addiction and life.

I had holidays away from my family while addicted. The holidays held a particular type of loneliness. It seemed that everything hurt a little more. The emptiness felt deeper, the cold stung longer and the days and nights felt endless. The streets were busy with shoppers and passersby, during the festive season, until the early morning of the actual holiday. The streets were empty and still, as if they bled out through the night, church bells would ring in the distance and the bittersweet sound seemed to vibrate through the freezing air, landing hard and shaking loose the lost memories of family holidays, when the days were better and the love between us was still sweet and painless. I would be left with a hopelessness that would fill to the back of my throat, that was so painful and dark, I felt as if I might suffocate, standing upright, in the middle of the sidewalk, on Christmas day.

It was then that I would desperately seek oblivion.

The holiday season holds a different meaning since surviving addiction. One of my favorite parts is gathering around the holiday table, where my family -- my sweet children and beloved nieces and nephews -- sit and eat. There is laughter, love and feelings of family that bind us deeply and hard together. The other favorite time is watching my clients enjoy their first holiday sober. My phone rings and my inbox fills with sentiments from the families I've had the privilege to work with through the year. The messages are of gratitude for saving the lives of the ones they love most. I am very clear I do not save lives, but I feel humbled and honored to be apart of and to bear witness to the awakening of the beautiful souls lost to addiction.

During this holiday, I look forward to another season filled with family, children, friends, clients and the knowing that my life has purpose, which has been the greatest gift of all my years and holidays sober.

Happy Holidays, my friends and supporters.

-- Kristina Wandzilak, host of Discovery Fit & Health's hit show Addicted.