Christmas is a beautiful time. Family time, dinner parties, and friends are familiar themes. 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 Holiday seasons. Whether I was surrounded by 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 often questioned if living was worth it.
Now over eleven years into my journey of freedom and recovery and Christmas is 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 for remaining free and victorious during the next few weeks.
1- Stay Connected to God
God understands, and God wants your Christmas season to be special even more than you do. The power needed to remain strong this time of year is fully available. Your part, spend time with The One who has all the power.
We all need downtime, but are you isolating or relaxing? Granted this year has forced many of us into isolation, but we can still be intentional and step outside of our comfort zone to connect with friends and family.
Isolation can position you to stew in some dangerous mindsets. PICK UP THE PHONE! Call someone else in recovery, they want to help. Much of recovery is learning 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, but real change and recovery take place when you learn to do what you know you should do even if you don’t feel like doing it.
2- Go to meetings, and/or be around people that understand what you’re going through.
12 Step meetings have people who understand the madness that can sometimes go on in the mind of an addict or alcoholic, especially in early recovery. Don’t wait for everything to be the way you think it should be. Pick up the phone and call someone, being intentional and reaching out to people that you can talk with will lighten your load.
In 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. Almost always 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 and take it. 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 in 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 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 paradoxically brighten yours.
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