The holidays can be a challenging time. This is especially true for people who are new in their recovery process. Often times the gaiety and festivities of the season will bring back memories of holidays that were not so joyful and bright. Holidays that were ruined by our alcoholism and other holidays, usually as children, when our expectations were not met. Too often people new to the recovery have not had the time and opportunity to practice using spiritual tools they are acquiring through the 12 step process. The feelings of shame and guilt creep up. Without knowing it is happening, the alcoholic is suddenly without defense. A drink or a drug once again seems like a solution. The alcoholic may take a drink telling himself, “just one won’t hurt” and the downward spiral of chaos and destruction takes control over everyone’s holiday. Our loved ones will be stunned. They won’t believe “you did it again” when the truth is, “you” didn’t do it again. It’s a disease. You really wanted to stay sober this holiday season. Cunning, powerful and baffling hold the answers to this dilemma.
Is there no hope? Yes, there is hope and there are tools.
1. Get a piece of paper and a pencil and write down the names of three people who are supportive of your recovery (your sponsor should be #1). Next to their name, write their phone number. Yes, you have it in the contacts of your phone but what about the time when you are separated from your phone? What about that moment when the thought, “it will be different this time” crosses your mind. Immediately, at the first sign of any discomfort or any rationalizing thought, call one of the people on your list and tell them exactly what’s going on.
2. If you have a legitimate reason for being where alcohol is being served you can go there. Make sure you are not going to get a vicarious thrill, “I like watching other people over drink and get stupid” and, do not go alone. Take a recovering friend with you. There is little chance you will both be spiritual off guard at the same moment.
3. Spend as much time as possible through the holiday season helping others. Always look for what you are able to add to a situation rather then what’s in it for you. If you’re at a party, ask the hostess if you can help. If you see someone sitting alone, introduce yourself and ask them about themselves. It’s hard to be self absorbed when you are listening to someone talk about themselves.
4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. There may be a lot of activities going on the next couple of weeks. Participate as much as you are able making sure you tend to your spiritual program first. A 12 step meeting a day is not unreasonable during the holidays.
This is a festive season. It’s a time we should enjoy. As recovering people we are challenged with adding something positive to every encounter we have. Trust God, clean house and help others is the prescription Dr Bob gave us many years ago. It worked at that time, it works now.
From Embrace Recovery – have a Merry Christmas, a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!
Enjoy the journey!
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