For many, the holidays bring copious joy and a sense of celebration: there are a bevy of lights illuminating the city streets, Santa’s everywhere you look, school’s out for two weeks, family gatherings are plentiful, and everyone is ready for a “break,” right? Well, that’s not always the case for the alcoholic/addict. When I was new in sobriety, the holidays were dreadful, and I had little to no coping skills in terms of dealing with the inevitable difficulties that can arise around family. I would spend every waking moment in marathon meetings, eager to recreate a sense of connection. I’m forever grateful for that experience.
As I gained more years under my belt and my proverbial tool box filled up with a variety of solutions applicable to most situations, my coping skills became broader. I became able to engage with my family in small doses, despite the fact that the sense of discomfort hasn’t ever really gone away. The thing is, just because we’ve continued to work on our behavior and our sense of disillusionment, doesn’t mean the rest of our families have as well. A lot of the time, they’re going to be the same as they always were. So, what does that mean for us addicts and alcoholics?
For starters, it’s an opportunity to put all of the hard work we do into action, but on a grander scale. Perhaps we can begin to treat a difficult person as the suffering being that they are and offer them compassion. What do you think would happen if you approached them with an open heart instead of anger and resentment? If that’s too hard, because the trauma is too fresh or too deep, then treat yourself with compassion and take a break. Call your sponsor, or a safe friend and check in; step outside and take 10 (yes, really) deep breaths–the kind that fills your lungs all the way to the top! And if all else fails, get yourself to a meeting. It’s one of the best aspects of recovery during the holidays: the meetings, just like the holiday cheer, are a-plenty!