Let me begin by saying that when I use the word addiction, I am including alcoholism. People seem to forget that alcohol is a drug; so addiction is any mind altering, mood changing substance. I use the word addiction to cover both.
We are in the major season of parties. Office parties, family get togethers, neighborhood festivities and more. Then you also have other holidays and birthdays and get togethers. There is more than a 82% chance that alcohol will be present and depending on where you are there may be drugs. If you are in recovery, and you attend these functions, it can be a very slippery slope and even more so if you are early in your recovery.
There is no shame in protecting yourself and your recovery by not attending. I know that sounds harsh, but why risk it? If you really want to or even must attend the festivities and you are permitted to take someone with you, ask your sponsor to go with you or someone who has shown they are working and living the program and have a fair amount of clean/sober time under their belt. Another thing you can do is have your own parties and make it clear that no alcohol or drugs will be present. Invite those who support your recovery! You are in recovery and you can take your power back in a positive way.
The holidays and celebrations can be a difficult time even for those not in recovery. But, personally for me they are depressing. I know that I am not alone all though that doesn’t make it better, it does help knowing that. The holidays, birthdays, and all those occasions that occur are when we remember who is missing from our lives’; what we have lost due to our addiction; even what we have lost – – our families, our jobs, our homes, good friends, marriages/relationships, our children and grandchildren, maybe even our legal ability to drive a car. When we start thinking about what we don’t have and why we don’t have it or them, the committee that pays no rent but lives in our minds starts playing the old tapes for us. “See, it doesn’t matter that you’re clean, you still have nothing,” “your family and friends will never forgive you, you know what you took from them-how you used them-how you lied to them and they don’t want you around,” “no matter what you do, you are never going to be good enough or acceptable.” I encourage you with all my heart to evict the committee without notice. All they are doing is using lies to stir the pots of our somewhat faulty thinking. Lies, lies, lies. If you have made amends and people have decided not to forgive you and move forward with you, that’s on them. I know how difficult it is to have that happen but don’t spend one nano second wondering what more you can do to get them back in your life. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
The very best solution I have found for these holiday and celebration times and feeling like I never want to leave my bed or home again is by getting out of my own head. I am my own worst enemy. If I did not work smart at this I would be like a turtle, climb in my shell and maybe come out for a bit in late May and that is only if I don’t do something insane like not evict the committee. All bets are off if they start talking again and I happen to believe them.
Here is what I do and have suggested and encouraged others to do with the sadness and all the temptations at this time. First, let me say, that Depression is a real medical condition. If you are truly very sad, unable to eat or stop eating, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time, feeling paralyzed, or even have actual physical pain please see your doctor.
As I said, get out of your head. How do we do that? We can serve. We can put others before ourselves, bring them some joy, ease the load they are carrying and it doesn’t cost us a cent and saves us at the same time. You can begin volunteering to deliver food baskets to those in need. You can volunteer at a library to read to children. You can volunteer at homeless shelters or soup kitchens and serve meals. You can shovel driveways. You can ask elderly neighbors if they need help with their shopping or wrapping gifts. You can go to your local SPCA or animal rescue and volunteer there. This is my short list of things to do when you are stuck in your head. Use your imagination and you will quickly find a place where you are needed and wanted.
When negative or sad thoughts pop into your brain, quickly replace them with positive thoughts and truth. Get to extra meetings. Watch all the funny movies you can. Read a book. Get a box of cool crayons and a coloring book and color!! Just get out of your head and out of your own way.
You aren’t alone right now and neither am I, even though it may look or briefly feel like it. You matter. You are worth it. You are earning back your own trust and the trust of others. You have value. You have purpose. Don’t give up on yourself now. The best is yet to come.
Sarah-Pink Welch ©2013
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