Strong boundaries are the foundation of my self-care. I began by saying no to a glass of wine, but now I’m able to say no to other uncomfortable holiday activities… When I look at my calendar in December, I often feel like I might hyperventilate. This holiday season, I encourage you to listen to your own little voice. Set boundaries, take care of yourself, and remember… Your sobriety is the best gift you can give to yourself and your loved ones.
Right here and right now, I recognize there is one mystical magical power that knows when I am sleeping and knows when I’m awake. It is the all-knowing intelligence and power that is always omnipresent, not just at this magical time of year. It is my Higher Power, my Highest Power. I close my eyes and sense it within; I open my eyes and sense it all around me, in people, places, and things. With this awareness, I see everything in a new light.
I am thankful I’m past the point of obsessing that 1½ bottles of wine was all that was consumed by 12 guests – and there was some left over in the bottle! I am thankful I could easily, unceremoniously, and instantly pour the leftover wine down the sink. I am thankful for leftover food however, and also that it’s just about gone…
As Thanksgiving approached, I was almost five months sober––and an orphan. Up until then, I had not experienced a holiday without my Mom and Dad. Honestly, I had no idea how I would make it through, much less stay sober. By the grace of God, the rooms of AA and the people in them, and my friends in Science of Mind, I did make it through––and I did stay sober. In a very real way, I learned what it meant to live one day at a time. And within those days, I frequently practiced living one moment at a time and one breath at a time.
Let’s face it, who could not use a little uplifting at this point in time? The holidays can have a funk to them. Maybe it’s the good, the bad, and some ugly family dynamics. Or missing loved ones, or plain loneliness, or sheer exhaustion. Maybe it’s those inner and outer fires raging, or omg the politics of the day. So draining. But wait––the truth is that the power is in me. I can care and cry for what is going on around me, and I do… and I can celebrate what comes from within. Gratitude comes from a deep place within that is always available and awaiting recognition and ignition. There is always an untapped reserve of things to be grateful for…
I stopped drinking almost 20 years ago, and I sometimes think that my real life began on that day in 1991. Getting sober was one of the best things I ever did, and, strangely, one of the most liberating. Drinking was one of the worst things I did, and I did it continuously and abusively from the age of 18 into my late 40s… I once thought that life couldn’t be fully experienced without alcohol: but the truth is the opposite – life can be more fully experienced without alcohol.
Gratitude is thrown around a lot in recovery. You hear the hard-core sober men and women say: “Get off your pity-pot and get in gratitude.” You hear gratitude is a necessary component of sobriety,” and “Write a gratitude list when you get in your head.” Why does everyone talk about gratitude so often? Because gratitude is scientifically proven to take the focus away from your struggles, shortcomings, and misfortunes, and redirect it to the goodness in your life.
November is called Gratitude Month, a chance for heightened awareness of what really matters. It is so comforting to know in a time when there is so much chatter in the environment that peace is within me whenever I seek it; always has been, always will be. This inner calm that knows that when emotions rattle my inner world, or the world at large, whatever else is going on is merely a situation or circumstance that will pass. Inner peace is eternal and constant. I cast my powerful vote for inner peace, and peace for the greater good. I let my inner voice be heard and trust the process.