Oh no! Here it comes again: THE HOLIDAY SEASON. Do you have fond memories of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, creamy eggnog, and yuletide cheer? Or do you dread the unrealistic expectations, increased anxiety and annoying relatives? If you have the urge to act like a groundhog, crawl into the nearest cozy hole, and not emerge until this crazy season is over sometime in the spring….well, you’re not alone! Many of us feel that way. But the holidays are rapid approaching like a speeding Amtrac train. So how do you survive the holiday season with your sanity and sobriety? Here are a few tips:
PACE YOURSELF: Remember you do not have to shop ‘til you drop. You do not have to select, purchase and completely decorate the tree, hang 8,000 twinkling lights on your roof, and bake dozens of sugar cookies – all in one afternoon. Learn to set priorities. Take your “To Do List” and break it down into “do-able” tasks. Call a H.A.L.T. whenever you get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. And if all else fails, slow your roll and take a nap!
PRACTICE PATIENCE: Your family probably hasn’t changed much. If every year granny gifts you with yet another Chia Pet – don’t be surprised. If mom still serves you ham although you converted to Judaism ten years ago – don’t be surprised. And if dad gets drunk and flirts with your sister’s college dorm mate – don’t be surprised. You have been on a journey of recovery…but unless they have also been working a program then they probably haven’t changed. So be patient with your loved ones, because they haven’t changed much.
BE PRO-ACTIVE: Prepare yourself for family gatherings and holiday festivities by attending a 12-step meeting before the actual event. Always carry a phone list of people to call when you need to talk. This will be a lifeline and lifesaver in a moment of panic. If you know you’ll be going to a raging party – convince a sober friend to accompany you. It’s best to arrive early and leave early before everyone gets embarrassingly wasted. You don’t need to witness that, and they don’t want you to see it either.
SET BOUNDARIES: It’s ok to say No. If you’ve been invited to see your nephew in the starring role of Rudolf in his pre-school holiday musical, it would probably be fun to go, but you have the right to make decisions for yourself.
GET OVER YOURSELF: The best antidote for depression is action. Move beyond your normal narcissism and do something nice for someone else. Dress up as an elf and deliver some laughter to a local nursing home. Buy a stack of cheap blankets at Big-Lots and take them to the animal shelter. And when you see that homeless guy mumbling in front of the 7-eleven – make eye contact- and bring him back a warm cup of coffee and a hot dog. There is very little difference between you and him…if not for the grace of God.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS: Take time to remember what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now. Remember two years ago when you spent the week from Christmas to New Years with your head stuck in a porcelain toilet? Remember last year when you stayed awake during the Twelve Days of Christmas because you were on a 12-day crystal meth run? Remember the many times you disappointed and scared your loved ones by being a “no show” during the holidays? You may not feel like the life of the party but show up this year anyway. You’re lucky that you haven’t burned all bridges with your past behavior. Be grateful that someone still cares enough to invite you. Yes, life is different now – so quit being a big baby and show some gratitude.
Filed under: Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Holidays, Life, Love and Relationships, Recovery, Spirituality · Tags: 12-step, boundaries, change, depression, drunk, family, H.A.L.T., holiday season, Holidays, Judaism, meth, phone list, Recovery, sanity, sobriety