Holidays can be rough on people in recovery, especially those of us who haven’t yet been able to develop normal relationships with our families of origin and/or old friends. If we don’t handle them carefully, they can be a real test of our sobriety. That’s especially true if we’re alone. Then self-care and attention to our wellbeing become especially critical.
Meetings are important when we’re feeling low, both for ourselves and others. We tend to forget that going to meetings works two ways: we not only help ourselves, but it helps others to know that we share their issues — and believe me, feelings of loneliness, low self-worth and similar emotions are common at these times!
We can double up on our phone calls to folks in the program, reaching out instead of withdrawing into our addict shells. We can go for coffee, have a meal, get together with other recovering people for games and fellowship. We do not have to be alone.
As always, honesty is of paramount importance. Even though “’Tis the season,” we can’t afford to put on a happy face and be jolly when we’re not feeling that way. That’s just another case of hiding our feelings from ourselves and others — attempting to bury and ignore them, the very things that we were trying to when we acted out in our addictions. We need to admit to ourselves that we’re hurting, and reach out to others as a way of grounding and discharging our pain before it becomes too great and we turn to the old ways of avoiding it.
It may help us to reflect on the impact that our addictions had on our relationships with others, and how important the connections that we have made or rebuilt are, now that we can admit some vulnerability. We can compare our present situation with our active addictions, and appreciate our current blessings compared to the pain back then. Are things really so terrible, after all? Aren’t the feelings of peace, hope and simplicity in our lives — even if only occasional — much better than they were back in the day?
We need to let go of our expectations that we’ll be miserable, and develop an attitude of hope and gratitude for the holiday season. We’ll be clean, sober, and moving ahead in our lives one day at a time. Although that may seem to be too slow for our addict thinking at the moment, we must remember that recovery is a process, not an event; life a journey, not a destination.
And how we are today is okay, if we allow it to be.