Holidays are a beautiful time. Family, dinner party’s, and giving are a fulfilling theme. But for some people, especially people in early recovery, holidays can trigger some rough memories and feelings.
If this is you, know that you are not alone.
I recall blurry holidays filled with inebriated episodes of self-centered chaos. My thirteen years of active addiction were layered with empty and depressed Christmas seasons. Whether I was surrounded with my family that loved me or willingly isolating myself while consuming whatever substances I could get my hands on, I was empty and alone and at times even questioning if living was worth it.
Now I’m almost ten years into freedom from addiction and the holidays are filled with fun, family, and joyous gatherings. If you’re not there yet in your recovery, don’t worry, it gets easier.
I can now go to parties with people drinking and not have a second thought or be even remotely triggered. The same reality is available for you, but for now here are some simple and practical tips to remaining free and victorious the next couple weeks.
1- Stay Connected to God
God understands, and God wants your Christmas season to be special even more then you do. The power needed to remain strong this time of year is fully available. Your part is time in prayer and believing you are loved.
We all need downtime, but are we isolating or relaxing?
Isolation can position you to stew in some dangerous mindsets. PICK UP THE PHONE! Call someone else in recovery, they want to help.
It is vital in recovery to learn to do the right thing whether you feel like it or not. It’s easy to do the right thing when you feel like it. Real change and recovery take place when you learn to do what you know you should do even if you don’t exactly feel like doing it.
2- Go to meetings, and/or be around people that understand what you’re going through.
12 Step meetings are filled with people who understand the madness that can sometimes go on in the mind of an addict, especially in early recovery. Don’t wait for everything to be the way we think it should be. Pick up the phone and call someone, being intentionally and reachimg out to people that you can talk with can feel like a huge load is removed from you.
My first year of recovery I lived with people who had significant clean time, I went to an average of 2 meetings a day, and I went out of my way to help people that were new in recovery. Early on, my life depended upon this.
3- Think Solution, Not Problem
What you dwell on in your thinking you grant permission to play out through your actions. Often times the list of good things happening in your life is much longer than the list of problems. Which are you focusing on? The good, or the bad?
If you are facing some serious problems, it’s common in early recovery, all you have to do is know the next step you need to take. All you can do is your part, and let God do for you what you can’t do for yourself. If you’re having trouble seeing and believing it, be around someone that will believe for you and encourage you into your own victory.
Writing a gratitude list can also be extremely helpful.
Something amazing happens when you freely give away what was freely given to you. The idea that you give to gain makes no sense to the person that hasn’t made this paradoxical paradise part of their daily lifestyle. You may feel like you have nothing of substance to give. But I promise you that no matter where you are at in your recovery, there is someone struggling worse than you and you have hope to give them.
Think spontaneous and practical. What are your talents? Where can you freely give your talents to help others? Maybe you have money to give, send some money to someone that you know needs it.
Maybe you have time to give. Find a soup kitchen, or homeless shelter and ask if you can donate your time to help.
Maybe someone you know needs a ride somewhere, and the list could go on. Getting outside yourself and helping brighten someone else’s Christmas season will paradoxical brighten your as well.