Day 17 of HIKMT’s 25 Ways in 25 Days to celebrate Christmas.
How I got through the holidays during early recovery.
The holidays. F@CK!
Anyone else feel that way? I know I did.. In active addiction and certainly in early recovery. Active addiction i hated it because I could never show up because I either didn’t have a ride or didn’t have gifts or just forgot it was christmas (yes, this happened). When I got into recovery I didn’t want to go to my first Christmas because I didn’t have money, I was awkward as hell because I was so isolated during my using that I didn’t have any interpersonal skills, and my skin, hair, and nails were all starting to look healthier but not quite there yet; I basically looked strung out.
How did I get through it when I first put down the drinks and drugs? I went to 24 hour meetings. I knew I could not be around the alcohol (and drugs) at family functions, so I needed to go somewhere that was safe. The only place I knew was in the halls of AA. I want to alcothons for 2 years in a row for Christmas. My family was not happy about it but it was where I felt safe. I was giving back to the people that saved my life and I felt so full doing it. I didn’t think once both of those Christmas about drugs or alcohol.. except if we were telling our war stories.
To the families: I can understand this is difficult. Please try to understand it is not you, it’s us. We want to be with you… my God, we so want to… We just have to be safe. We have to work on ourselves, so we can be our best versions of ourselves for you. Please try to support this decision; it may be the last time we have to make you sad on a holiday.
The self is a calm stable center surrounded by a continuous changing sea. Merge with yourself and be ready for any emergent sea.
–Coretta Scott King
Wise ones tell us to be true to ourselves. Being true to ourselves means daring to disagree with a loved one, even when we know it might cause painful tension. It means refusing to go along with the group’s plans if our values are being ignored. It means standing alone, if necessary, in our family of origin if their expectations of us no longer nurture our growth.
With the help of the Fourth and Tenth Steps, we are learning who we are. We have recognized our shortcomings, and we have defined the assets that make our lives productive and enviable. Each day we are getting closer to knowing more completely the “inner person” who is calm and centered, unruffled by the external activity.
I can be calm and centered today if situations get tense. My “inner self” will take my hand and give me the words I need…
Shortcut to the Spirit of the Season:
Putting away your anger. Anger is one of the most common emotions that reveal themselves during the holiday season. In the madcap countdown to Christmas Day, it doesn’t take long to find something to be mad about. What is amazing is how trivial it can be. Much that is good at Christmas is missed due to anger.
There is another way. Take a deep breath, quit looking at the clock, look for something to lift your spirits and calms your nerves. It takes little effort. Look for a child who is excited seeing he decorations for the first time. Listen and you might hear a song that helps return you to the joy of the season.
Patience is an important gift we can give ourselves. As you begin your day, ask yourself, “Why am I in such a hurry?” Just slowing down and having some patience will bring about an improved attitude and perspective. At Christmas, slowing down brings even more incredible things into your world. Christmas is a time of wonder and joy. Even with a lot to do, we need to slow down and enjoy the splendor of the holiday. That simple attitude change, taking a step back and not being concerned about things you cannot control, allows you to enjoy the things you would have otherwise missed. Treat even the moments when we are forced to wait in line as a gift that allows you to look around and note the wonder of the holiday and speak words of encouragement and cheer to others.