This is why I spent the Easter holidays alone, drunk and doing drugs

I was an addict and alcoholic for more than 13 years. Every day I took a lethal combination of 40-60 pills, including medicine and drugs like amphetamine and cocaine – even mixing them with substances such as alcohol and marihuana. The holidays, especially Easter, Christmas & New Year’s Eve were perhaps my worst moments. The holiday season was always when my abuse reached its peak. This is why I spent the Easter holidays alone, drunk and doing drugs

Me and my grandfather

Me and my grandfather

This time of the year always resulted in irresponsibility- I was unable to keep up with my appointments, I hurt the ones that were closest to me, I isolated myself, and increasingly my abuse became worse. Easter was hard on me because I have experienced many disappointments around the holidays, so when I turned 18 years old my abuse became extremely serious.

Drugs, alcohol, pills and medicine could tranquilize all the stress I was feeling on the inside, so I could make it past the Easter days. The reality however, was that I couldn’t. My abuse pushed my family and friends further and further away from me. It interfered with my work, my colleagues, my family, my girlfriend, my girlfriends family, my friends and of course myself. Easter has always been delicate for me. My mom and dad got divorced when I was one and I was primarily raised by my mother who was an alcoholic. She got drunk almost every Easter so celebrations were often blurred by a series of painful memories.

I remember a Easter when I was 8 years old. My mother wanted to host an Easter dinner and party, at our house. My grandfather and I were supposed to be there. That spring my mother had been on antabuse treatment and she had bought delicious Easter food, bought and I can clearly remember myself thinking: “I wonder if she can actually pull through this time?” On Easter day I was playing with my good friend Stig and my mother prepared the dinner and set the dinner table. I still remember how happy I was that day. Around dinnertime I felt right away that something had changed in the way my mother talked and moved around. I could detect my mother had been drinking.

From I was very little until my mother died in 2003, I could tell just by listening to my mother’s footsteps if she had been drinking or not. So anyone who thinks they can hide their abuse and intoxication from their children: Forget it. Children feel the difference right away. Even if it doesn’t smell or can’t be seen.

That Easter my mother began drinking cherry wine. My friend Stig was going home to his family and as a result I was left to spend the afternoon alone with my mother. As she proceeded with the preparations for the Easter celebration, I found the cherry wine she was drinking off- in the closet with towels in the bathroom. I knew my mother had been drinking, but when I found the bottle half-empty it became real, and in disappointment, went up to my room.

By now it was approximately 3 pm. My mother had been sweet and nice all morning and Stig and I had received Easter eggs and candy while enjoying ourselves and playing together throughout the day. Now afternoon and nightfall was arriving, I sat alone in my room, 8 years old, playing with LEGO and knowing deep down that Easter would not be joyful as it was for any other family in my neighborhood.

When I realized that my mother was drinking, I retreated into myself. I didn’t speak to my mother. I removed myself physically from her by negating her. I was filled with a huge amount of shamefulness, because I thought my mother was extremely embarrassing when she was under the influence – whether we were alone, or at a parenting meeting at school or in the city somewhere, I was so embarrassed by my mother and her intoxicated behavior. I was filled with a form of guilt and deep sadness; “why were alcohol and pills more important to her than spending Easter with me, her son?” She knew I got sad and broken, when she was drinking so why did she keep drinking? Was I a bad son? Was it my fault that she was drinking?

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I also felt the loneliness and … “wrongness”. I have always felt that I was alone and that I was wrong and all the others were right and normal. Many thoughts and feelings ran through my 8 year old brain and body, so I simply retreated to myself.

I had LEGO in my room, I had a tape recorder that could play audio books like: “The Jungle book”. So there I sat in my room and played until the clock turned to 7 pm. and my grandfather arrived in his fine outfit, ready to celebrate Easter. 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) placed on the coffee table. The food had been in the oven since noon and was all burned. Potatoes, red cabbage, and French potatoes and were still sitting in their respective bags and containers- clearly the concept of Easter dinner was far from becoming a reality.

My grandfather was quick to decide what was going to happen. He packed me, 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 Easter  went the way it did, so I accepted that life is like that sometimes.

Me, mother and father

Me, mother and father

Easter, New Year and festivals are therefore filled with negative emotions. I am deeply grateful that my granddad picked me up that day and hosted my Easter in the best way he could. I have also had countless Easter holidays, 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, especially when my mother couldn’t handle it.

During the holiday season I always feel 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 Easter. So spending Easter somewhere else, because my mother was under the influence, was both a blessing and a curse. I was able to live some “good” Easter holidays, yet I also always felt different- like a homeless being taken in for a special occasion.

I did love my mother and missed her, as much as my little heart could. I am well aware that all the sweet families that I have spent Easter with did it with good intentions, however, none of it can remove the emptiness I felt from my broken home. There wasn’t anything I would have rather done than to spent Easter and New Years and all others days with my beloved mother Janne. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t possible.

As a result, as I became older, it also became easier to ignore the holidays and choose to sit alone on Easter and enjoy my own company. I have been alone Easter, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, my birthday, and many other occasions. 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 should not sit home alone”. But the older I got, the more it hurt to be with “ordinary” people during times of celebration.

When I was approximately 18 years old my abuse and addiction took off and continued for more than 13 years. When I was approximately 15 years old my mother met a man, whom she married. He was also an alcoholic and together it had the effect that I never saw my mother on holidays ever again, except my 18th birthday, which my mother and her new husband hosted for me where they both were on antabuse.

By then 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”. As the years went by as an addict, I began to realize perhaps I was not better off with these substances.

I was well aware that, deep inside, it wasn’t a good idea to drink, do drugs or take pills. But it evolved into a downward spiral: the more wrong I felt, the more substances I used to tranquilize my emotions, yet the more wrong I felt.

Spending the holidays at my loved ones homes- all of them but my own further emphasized to me the difference between normal people and my abnormal situation. It was less emotionally draining to simply sit on my own and forget the whole magic of the season.

So in 2004 I moved 100 miles away from all those 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 “real and normal” people in my life anymore.

On April 2004 I sat alone after having declined all invitations for Easter and spring celebrations. 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 to last me until the Easter holidays were over, when I could go shopping again. Then I was filled with a calmness and satisfaction within. After seven years as an addict and abuser, this system carried on.  When the emptiness became unbearable  I retreated to myself as I had been doing since I was a boy.

Me, after one of my motivational speeches, signing my book

Me, after one of my motivational speeches, signing my book

The more the years went by, the more aware I became that I was lonely. My own thoughts, actions and my abuse were of course contributing to make me more lonely and “wrong”. The negative feelings took over, and they required more and more tranquilization.

My salvation was finally becoming clean and drug-free in 2010. The rehabilitation was at a public treatment center in Denmark and lasted from November 2009 to July 2010. I slowly started to discover 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.

Holidays became a joyful moment now. They meant being able to enjoy celebrations with my family, and girlfriend without feeling that I was wrong. It was my own life where I learned to overlook the bad by appreciating the good.

Thanks to my family, my girlfriend her family and our friends I feel I am worth something now. I feel that I am good enough. I feel that me tagging along, means my contribution to the joyful season.

Of course I wish that I could share it all with my beloved mother and grandfather. Yet I am thankful and joyful to spend it with the wonderful people still left in my life. Most important of all, I feel I deserve it – I feel that I am good enough to be a part of all these events and gatherings. I feel that I have something to contribute; I have never felt that

Martin Bødker Fritzen

By |April 14th, 2018|My Story|Comments Off on This is why I spent the Easter holidays alone, drunk and doing drugs