Ahhhhhh…..the holidays—they are approaching like a speeding train. This is a season that can be bittersweet—for the great expectations that so many people have can often lead to disappointment. Seeing family and friends can be a blessing, but at the same time lead to additional seasonal stress. Answering the same questions over and over again can trigger intense emotions. Did you graduate yet? Are you still at that lousy job? Any kids? Are you still single? And comparing yourself to your seemingly “perfect” family members with their high-powered jobs, wonderful marriage and 2.5 children can be a recipe for the holiday blues.
To everyone receiving this email here’s knowing for you: A Holiday Season of Serenity, Reflection, Connection, and Fun! Knowing we all continue to experience the freedom of sobriety as we prepare to turn a page on the calendar and to peel more layers of the onion. Knowing we are guided and guarded in the final days of this year and all throughout the expansive new year ahead. Affirming that we are filled with empowering thoughts, actions, and fully engaged with ongoing personal growth and unfoldment.
The holiday season can be a joyous time, but for those in recovery from drug or alcohol addictions, it can also be a minefield. High expectations, over-commitment, and fatigue can lead to heightened emotions and mood swings. Travel and busy schedules increase stress. You might be away from your support network and routines, enhancing a feeling of isolation. Holiday customs, memories, and events associated with alcohol or other drug use may tug at you. But there are ways to prepare for this high-risk season and safeguard the greatest gift you ever gave yourself and those you love: your sobriety.
Toward the end of my run out there, a raucous Christmas party took place annually, full of loud and lively people I barely knew. Although there was food by the ton, mostly there was booze. Booze was the theme, the centerpiece, and the focus – a chance to toast and get toasted. In my Christmas past, it felt like big fun. Once I got sober, I didn’t attend for a few years.
Fall is my favourite season, always has been. I love the colours, I love the cool air, and I love the sound of walking through fallen, dried leaves. I even like a cloudy fall day because even though the sky is cloudy and dull, the beautiful oranges and reds and yellows showcase a beauty that will not be shown up by a grey sky. I recently returned from a month long work tasking on a ship. It’s amazing how small you can feel on the upper decks of a ship surrounded by nothing but ocean and blue sky. No land as far as the eye can see.
Take a walk or a ride around after dark and look at the night sky– the moon, the stars, and at this time of year, the beautiful, twinkling, sparkling Christmas lights . . . Put on music and dance around, alone or together – salsa, waltz, rock n roll, tango, disco . . . Sit silently outside in a naturally beautiful place for 30 – 60 minutes, deeply inhaling the fragrance . . . Find a friend that makes you laugh, and generate laughter . . .
Pretty much every recovering addict knows about 12-step meetings, sponsorship, working the steps, and going to therapy. And much of the time those tools are enough to establish and maintain early sobriety. Over time, however, addicts inevitably encounter situations where those highly useful forms of support are not available. In such cases, it is wise to have at least a few other tools of sobriety on which to rely.
With deep appreciation, I look back and reflect on this precious month, grateful for all the ups and downs of my human experience, and grateful for the perfection of my spiritual experience. I am extremely grateful to be in recovery, free from addictive substance and behavior, and grateful for the freedom I have to choose empowering thoughts, ideas, and actions in all situations. I am thankful for everything and everyone that serve as my teachers and remind me to open my eyes and stay awake to the lessons and blessings that surround me.