Holidays tend to create an immense amount of pressure, for this alcoholic anyway, and I suspect, many of us. I can hypothesize that the pressure stems from a need to “people please” with the right gifts or gestures, which stirs up financial insecurities or worries, or better yet the pressure to “suit up & show up” at gatherings, or events & not embarrass oneself, further, around family or friends, by showing everyone how sober we are, lol.
Nostalgia kicks in, add a touch of guilt over Holidays past or missed completely and you’ve got a recipe for “Poor Me”, which we know in Recovery translates to “Pour Me”.. (as in another drink.)
I had countless lonely Holidays in my drinking/using career. I was always invited, but too ashamed to show up, or too stuck in my addiction (read that as too High) to be present for most of them.
But I’m one of the Miracles. A Fortunate Son (yes, daughter but what’s a blog without a Creedence reference? Lol) whose family did and still does claim her, love her and invite her for get-togethers.
STILL, Isolation is the shadow side or a result of the disease of addiction, and even in Sobriety, it’s a very hard habit to break.
I’ve developed a few Holiday coping skills (besides Gin & Juice, shout out Snoop Dog!) over the last 10 years in Recovery: ODAAT.
1. Stay Close. Check in on other alcoholics. Be of Service.. we might just help another Alcoholic not feel so lonely, and after all, the opposite of addiction is connection.
2. Send cards. Make phone calls! It’s perhaps unrealistic to fly across the country for a holiday get together and perhaps it’s just too triggering to be around family – amends made or not – and that’s OK. Simply acknowledging family is a far cry from where & how many of us dealt with Holidays prior.
3. Take It Easy.. (total recovery cliché, butttt….) Dropping the need to have a “perfect Holiday” is HUGE. There is literally zero need to impress anyone or overextend financially, emotionally or otherwise.
4. Gratitude. Simply. Being. Grateful. Having lived to see another Holiday is cause enough to celebrate, and by staying in Gratitude, I do not give myself much room for morbid self-reflection, regret or guilt.
5. Prayer. Meditation… There’s a whole lotta evidence out there to support the power of these practices – secular, sacred, religious or otherwise. In a program of Recovery, we get to find, connect with & define our Higher Power; I choose today to call mine God… but Great Spirit, also works? (and that is an entirely different and quite lengthy blog post, which I might have the opportunity to write later, haha) Prayer got me through many dark nights, even if it was “Please don’t let this kill me”.
Prayer has also gotten me through some since happier days, as well… So.. maybe don’t knock it til ya Rocked it? Simply practicing prayer or affirmation or yoga as part of a daily discipline helps alleviate the feeling of impending doom aka Holiday stress.
6. Just don’t drink or pick up. This one speaks for itself… and if I were to start to feel like a 6, I know to refer back to 1 – 5.. habitually, but consciously, thanks to my recovery. I am blessed (more than a hashtag, Y’all!) to say that the obsession to drink and use was removed for me, almost immediately, but at any given time, on any given day, the disease of Addiction can convince me otherwise… This is especially true during times of increased stress, fatigue or heightened sensitivity – even the “good kind” such as a Holiday.
I’ve learned to practice the recovery principles & to look forward to this nearing Season as a time of child-like hope, joy, and celebration – just for today…
One day, or Holiday, at a Time.
The Sober chick
Kristin “Gypsy” Schloesser
The Sober Chick – Kristin “Gypsy” Schloesser is a contributing writer and blogger for Over The Bridge Inc. Gypsy’s views are based on life experience and the AA 12 step model.