I had LEGO in my room, I had a tape recorder that could play audio books like for example: “The Jungle book”. So here I sat in my room and played until the clock had become 7 pm. and my granddad arrived in his fine outfit with a couple of presents and was going to celebrate Christmas. I hadn’t seen anything of my mother since 3 ‘o’ clock; she had fallen asleep on the couch with two bottles of cherry wine laying on the floor and a package of medicine (alopam) laying on the coffee table. The roast duck had been in the oven since noon and was all burned. Potatoes, red cabbage, French potatoes and the small pill potatoes, for browned potatoes – it was all still standing in its respective bags and containers and wasn’t any closer to becoming Christmas dinner, than when it was stored at the grocer.
My grandfather was quick to decide what was going to happen. So he called on me; and packed me, my presents, my LEGO and some of the food together – and then we drove to his place. I didn’t see my mother until several days later. My granddad got me some clean clothes and then I stayed with him for a few days. I don’t think my mother said sorry or explained to me why that Christmas Eve went the way it did, so I accepted that life is like that sometimes.
Me, my mother and my grandmother
Christmas, New Year and festivals – can – for me, Martin as 8 years old – be a lonely day filled with negative emotions. I am deeply grateful that my granddad picked me up that day and hosted my Christmas in the best way he could. I have also had countless Christmas Eves and New Year’s Eves and other holidays, which have been good. At my uncle and aunt, at my dad and Bodils place, at my friends and girlfriends and their families. There have through the years been many good experiences – and I am deeply grateful for being able to stay with them, when my mother couldn’t handle it.
The ambivalent part about the whole Christmas, New Year, Birthday and Holiday-term is that I always feel wrong and different compared to others. It was very pronounced and clear to me as a child. Remember; already as very young I have had really tiresome experiences with my mother and abuse around Christmas. So spending Christmas somewhere else, because my mother was under the influence, was on one side great – because then I was allowed to experience a “good” Christmas. But on the other side I have always sat Christmas & New Year’s Eve and felt pushy, wrong, different – and I felt like a homeless being favored a Christmas Eve at the master and mistress.
I did love my mother and missed her, at least all my little heart can/could. I am well aware that all the sweet families that I have spent Christmas with did it in a good meaning – and they have given everything they had to make it a good evening for me and everyone else. It just doesn’t remove the emptiness and loneliness and the great need I had inside me in these days. There wasn’t anything I rather would, than to spent Christmas and New Years and all others days with my beloved mother Janne. It just wasn’t possible.
For me as a little boy sitting with lovely friends or great family Christmas Eve and enjoying the dinner, Christmas tree, comfort, atmosphere, Christmas TV, candy, gifts; experience the atmosphere and the togetherness they had with each other was great: but at the same time it made me well aware of how wrong I was. How different my family was. How alone and lonely I was. Yes, how wrong I was – and how “right” all the others were.
This wrongness, loneliness and emptiness – have always filled me up in the Christmas days, at birthdays and other holidays. I have the same experiences around Easter, birthdays and so on. That’s why I became more and more careless about the festivals – It is obvious that – the older I became, the more it hurt inside me.
Then it was easier to ignore the holidays and for example choose to sit alone on Christmas Eve and enjoy my own company. I have been alone Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, on my birthdays and in many other festivals. Sometimes I lied about it, so my family, friends and girlfriend believed that I had someone to be with. As I knew they wouldn’t like me sitting alone: “You can just be with us, Martin. You are not sitting home alone”. But the older I got, the more it hurt to be with “ordinary” people in the festivals, because I got more and more aware of how wrong I was.
When I was approximately 18 years old my abuse and addiction kicked off – and as I began with I was an addict and abuser, every day, for more than 13 years. When I was approximately 15 years old my mother met a man, who she married. He was also an alcoholic and together it had the effect that I never saw my mother on festivals ever again, except my 18 year old birthday, which my mother and Bjarne hosted where they both were on antabuse for exactly a month.
Me – addict, 1999
But now my abuse of pills, medicine, drugs, alcohol and marihuana had begun. The advantage of my own abuse was that I could tranquilize my sense of emptiness, sadness and “wrongness” and have some fine festivals as I was 18, 19 and 20 years old. Or so I thought. As more years went by as an addict, the more wrong I felt and the bigger of an idiot I thought I was.
I was well aware that (deep inside) it wasn’t a good idea to drink, do drugs or eat pills at home, at work, or visiting friends and family. But it became a negative spiral: the more wrong I felt, the more drugs / alcohol I used – the more wrong I felt, the more alcohol and drugs it took to tranquilize it – and the more wrong I felt… and like that the spiral continued. All of this despite having great people in my life, friends, family and girlfriends who all wanted to help me. I was welcome to spent Christmas, New Years and birthday at their place.
I have spent countless festivals at my dad and siblings place – and also at my uncle and aunts and have been with my good friend Stig – and I am you all deeply grateful for your hospitality and that you could and wanted to have me there, but again, being together with what I saw as “right” or “ordinary” people, just clarified even more how wrong I was. Especially when I became and was an addicted abuser. Then it is just easier to sit alone, because then I could decide what was going to happen and how the festival, Christmas for example, should be.
So in 2004 I moved 100 miles away from all who loved me. Away from the closeness and away from family and friends. I wanted to be alone. I isolated myself. I couldn’t be close to all the “real and normal” people anymore.
The drugs, pills, medicine, alcohol and addiction had a decisive lead over me, my mother was dead – my uncle was dead and suddenly I could relate to, why my mother have had such a difficult time at Christmas and the festivals. Whatever she tried to tranquilize within herself, became extra clear in the days of Christmas and because of that she often wounded up constantly under the influence from November to January, where she maybe was hospitalized for detoxification – and then all over again at Easter – and then all over again in July where my birthdays was – and so on.
December 22. 2004 I sat alone and had declined all invitations regarding Christmas and New Year’s. I had shopped at my pusher and at 4 apothecaries in the area and I had done a bit of food shopping – and when I got home, I knew that I had food, drugs, pills, medicine and alcohol enough until the 28th of December, where I could go shopping again. Then I was filled with a calmness and satisfaction within. Even though it was lonely to sit alone in the days of Christmas and being constantly stoned, high and intoxicated; at that time I thought it was better being here alone, abuser, junkie and addict – than sitting with my sister or father who loved me.
Me, mother and father
When I was alone it was because I made the decision myself, that made it all easier. I could tranquilize the emptiness, sadness and wrongness for a while. Only to wake up feeling even worse, which needed to be drugged again. So it wasn’t anything that helped me out in the long haul – but in the days of Christmas it felt like the right solution, back then.
When I was in my 20’ies I had been an addict and drug abuser for approximately 7 years and just as Christmas was approaching I felt like shit. All the experiences with my mother and the feeling of being “poor” and being all wrong and different than all the “normal” people, made every day in December unbearable. I retreated into myself and isolated myself as I had been doing since I was a boy. I tried to the best of my ability to navigate through Christmas and New Year, by being as drugged and affected as possible.
When I asked my mother – and when other people asked me: “Why do you drink / do drugs at Christmas? Christmas is supposed to be a lovely time with the family, with good food, love and joy?” Then it was because I from an early age felt wrong compared to everyone else. I felt empty and lonely – and alone. When I sat at my dad’s, or my uncle and aunts, at good friends or girlfriends on Christmas Eve, then I am fully aware that they all want the best for me and wanted to give me the best Christmas ever; but I couldn’t choose my own emotions. They filled me up, without me being able to control any of them.
We could sit a Christmas Eve at my dad and Bodils and my siblings. Here is safe, here is warmth, here is good food, presents, Disney’s Christmas Show and it was great; however the thing I was filled with was that I missed my mother and wanted to share it with her. All the good and safe just clarified how “little” I had in my life. I didn’t see a Christmas like that at my dad’s place to be a part of my life, I saw it as me being allowed to take part of their lives. At some point the Christmas vacation ended and I was supposed to go home to my mother and a new chaos began.
The more years that went, the more aware I become of that I was wrong and lonely. My own thoughts, actions and my abuse were of course contributing to make me more lonely and “wrong”. The negative feelings got bigger and more obvious, they needed more and more tranquilization. The feelings of loneliness, emptiness and wrongness in the festivals was unbearable, especially at Christmas – that’s why I sat alone and spent my Christmas holidays getting drunk and doing drugs.
The thing that helped me was becoming clean and drug-free in 2010. The treatment was at a public treatment center in Denmark and lasted from November 2009 to July 2010. Just as slowly I started to discover that I was okay. As time passed I built a feeling of being worth something and my faith in being able to cope with life in a good way grew.
The festivals have gotten another and more positive meaning now. Now I can enjoy Christmas with family, girlfriend and be a part of the events – without feeling that I am wrong or that I am “visiting someone else life”. Now it is my own life that contains good people and nice holidays.
Me and my girlfriend Lea 2015
This is definitely because of my sweet family, my girlfriend and her family and our friends. The difference is that I feel I am worth something now. I feel that I am good enough. I feel that me tagging along, means my contribution is as good as the others. This makes me able to participate in Christmas and other festivals on even terms with everyone else – and that makes Christmas fun to me and my family.
Of course I wish that I could share it all with my deceased, beloved mother and granddad – but I have so many wonderful people in my life now – plus – most important of all, I feel I deserve it – I feel that I am good enough to be a part of it. I feel that I have something to contribute; I have never felt that before. Now I am enjoying the Christmas vacation and preparing for the final exams in psychology and business economics in January.
Thanks for me not being alone anymore – and thanks to you who have read along all the way to here.
If you like, you can read about how I became an addict here (click)
If you like, you can read about how I became drug free here (click)
Christmas greetings and a happy New Year
Martin Bødker Fritzen