Nostalgia: The Toxic Ghost of Christmas Past

Dry and Disorderly
6 min readDec 22, 2020

As a highly sensitive recovering addict, nostalgia has always felt more like psychosis.

It’s officially time for the annual field trip back to Satan’s Land. That’s just Santa Land for seasonally depressed adults. December is extra aggressive this year, yes? The holiday music is aurally offensive apart from Mariah Carey and a thousand Christmas commercials a day without consent is well-nigh emotional assault. Recently, I had some time on my hands and a lot of bottled-up frustration and generously directed it at Amazon. I thought they might like to know what lonely consumers really want. That’s an opt-out function for all Christmas related content on Firestick. I informed them that I would gladly pay 99 cents a month to not be reminded of Christmas every three minutes. I think it’s a genius business idea they’re not taking advantage of and they can pay me for it in Don Julio Tequila.

Kidding. I’m still sober. Currently.

Holiday nostalgia is more unbearable this year as all we can do is sit around getting fleece hand jibbers from our favorite pajamas whilst eating cheese from the bag and floundering in our past transgressions. I knew things were especially grim when NOT having the option to get my butt handed to me off some tequila at the local booty bar for Christmas again was making me feel depressed.

But at least we always have nostalgia to keep us warm on lonely nights. I’ve never missed a date with The Ghost of Christmas past no matter how hard I have tried. One year I even slept through the entire month of December but got haunted anyway. That’s right. I lived in a crappy $600/month studio, worked doubles all of November just to drop a few pills in a whiskey eggnog December 1st and head to bed for a couple weeks. It might sound dark but I look forward to retirement so I can do it again one day. It was a dream; how often do you have a life of such little responsibility and familial commitment that you can catch up on 10 years of sleep deprivation in one month?

I’ve never enjoyed a stroll down memory lane hence the many blackouts I’ve initiated. As a highly sensitive recovering addict, nostalgia has always felt more like psychosis. Best to be avoided when there’s vices dressed in purple plastic booties lingering on every corner. My research states (you have Google, do it yourself. I have enchiladas in the oven to tend to) nostalgia is healthy, can make you more optimistic and increase vitality. STRONGLY DISAGREE. Who on earth enjoys the sensation of being haunted by their past? Maybe if you’re a person with great reputation, less than three stepfathers and didn’t date men that would steal your underwear and sell them on Craigslist. Good for you Beth but hard pass. Honestly, I’m just jealous. I could obviously learn something from you on not being so jaded.

Nostalgia a “neurological disease of essentially demonic cause” -Swiss Doctor Johannes Hoffer, 1688.

You know what I feel nostalgic for this pandemic holiday? 2016. You know what we had in 2016. Murder clown sightings. Everywhere. Let’s shake things up a bit. Nostalgia is only comforting because of its predictability. You can relive a costume party with your college pals and conveniently return to reality right before they roofie you this time. Or go make love on the balcony of the home you shared with your ex before you found out your best friend had been up there before, too. Maybe there is something there that you missed and it’s worth another look. Maybe your soulmate really is your narcissistic toxic ex or MAYBE you’ve just been watching too much Gossip Girl in quarantine. (Taken off Netflix December 31st. Binge NOW.)

Sometimes you bury the can of worms and you should just leave it there. It’s bloody worms. You’ve moved on, don’t give it another thought. Well, of course I ruminated on this anyway. Maybe we go back in time to search for the tools we used to survive our disenchanting past to cope with our current reality. I considered that as I took a mental deep dive into Christmas Eve brunch three years ago. During the party, I got hammered off mimosas, ate an edible, had an emotional conversation with a garden gnome about the long-lasting pain of betrayal, kidnapped him, then chucked him off the balcony and into neighbor’s yard. Rehashing that doesn’t seem too beneficial unless I want to recreate it for an audition for a Lifetime movie.

Nostalgia is a dangerous gateway drug of its own for an addict. Replying to an ex’s generic “merry Christmas” text could lead me into buying a four-hundred-dollar plane ticket halfway across the country then a year later I’m waking up in a hospital with pink hair after an overdose. Exploring the past without boundaries can get sticky.

I must be so cautious of the places I allow my mind to wander these days. Hopefully, it won’t always have to be so black or white. I’d like some wiggle room eventually. It makes me wonder how long this lifestyle can last, bouncing from one right rope to the next is not tenable. At some point, you will be off your guard and you will fall to the sharks, your vices.

Very recently, I broke that seal of destructive behavior. I didn’t drink but I may as well have because what I did was just as harmful. This month both of my pets died following an already monumental year of loss. In my grief and vulnerability, I handed off my heart to someone else to look after for a bit. I chose a person I knew had no desire to protect it. As expected, it didn’t end well. My heart had to shatter again from something I’d already spent the last year healing from. In a moment of weakness, I ignored my gut and ended up back at Day 1.

This could be the time to prove to myself that I can get through anything. This could be a time to grow. However, today, I considered drinking. I desperately wanted a mental vacation. The only reason I didn’t was the reminder of The Great Conjunction occurring tonight. I was worried if I relapsed on a day of such intense energy that I would manifest that tone for myself for the next year or so. That was enough to wait it out. The desire to fight it has been fading and I hope it’s only a few bad weeks. Sometimes at the time heartache can feel like eternal doom. Things are probably fine but, in those moments, you can’t stand another second in your skin. When you can’t see the light anymore, drinking yourself right out of the situation does not generate the same disappointment anymore. It starts to feel warm and comforting again like freedom. So, I don’t know what’s going to happen after this.

My impulsive fragility for destructive behavior has made some improvement though. It’s been thirty hours since I let the idea of liquor enter my brain without acting on it. If I entertain an idea, my mind is usually set. I still have some hesitation left.

I hope that is not just the conclusion to this piece but also to the idea that a backslide could lead to anything but my imminent mortality. Perhaps, this was just another wake up call. Some doors close for a reason and if you don’t take the time to resolve and heal from what’s behind them then they remain cracked and vulnerable until you do. In recovery, you must always be trying. You must keep searching for a purpose everyday even when you’re beat down. The second you start running out of reasons to take care of yourself you get closer to giving it all up.

Sometimes, that’s exhausting.

Anyway, check in on your friends. Give the addicts in your life a project if you can, they need something to do. Reach out when you need help but don’t call your ex.

Originally posted on my blog www.dryanddisorderly.com

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Dry and Disorderly

Addiction Recovery Advocate. Juice Enthusiast & Self-Improvement Junkie. Morkie Mother. Creator of www.dryanddisorderly.com