“Recovery for the Holidays”
Can you feel it? Temperatures dropping as the fall winds usher in our winter season ~ The faint aroma of chimney smoke as it escapes into the night air; Sweaters being retrieved from summer hibernation, with their soft and encompassing warmth; Snuggling up to the one you love with popcorn and a soft blanket for a night of movies; The wafting smell of hot cocoa as it rests between your hands causing your senses to anticipate that warm chocolate heaven rolling across your pallet; Enjoying the feeling of being completely enveloped under a billowy down comforter which escorts one into a blissful nights sleep; The joy of a favorite winter chili or stew which never fails to provide a lingering warmth in the belly; or the excitement of college football and anticipation of the playoffs drawing closer still… Yes, these are but a few of the experiences we all have in one form or another, igniting in our conscious minds a reminder that the holiday season is drawing ever near.
For some, this leads to a sense of joy, excitement and anticipation – while for others it evokes feelings of anxiety, guilt or remorse due to the memory of holidays past, where active addiction/alcoholism may have caused undo pain for those whom we love and have held most dear. This pain can cause feelings of loneliness, hopelessness or even relapse. But no matter what feelings or circumstances are being experienced as the approaching holidays arrive ~ for ALL of us a genuine gladness and gratitude can be embraced. Feelings of loneliness being replaced with connectedness, hopelessness being replaced instead with hopefulness and feelings of relapse replaced with the miracle of life and recovery. One might ask, “How is gladness and gratitude possible in the midst of such struggles?” Well, we need only look at the immediate blessings that exist before us:
Let’s start with the good news that this is a NEW season ~~ the years past are just that, “season’s gone by”. Recovery, (as in life), affords us the opportunity to have a “do over” or to “start a new”. The past holiday season could have been absolutely terrible…but that was last year. THIS is a new day and can truly be the beginning of fresh and wonderful memories! Some may ask, “How can I be happy because I am not even with my family now” or “I don’t have my home anymore” or “I have lost my job” or “I can’t buy gifts for everyone”. This does not mean that this season can’t be filled with beautiful and lasting memories. Gratitude is ALWAYS a good way to kick start ourselves into a different direction. Let’s look at a few of the things we can say we are grateful for today:
Another area of gratitude to motivate those of us who have survived so much already….We are ALIVE! It is the easiest of blessings to take for granted. I need only go out into the cool night air – feeling the breeze blowing through my hair and against my face, gazing upon the moon and stars as they cast their subtle light upon me, breathing in through my nostrils the coolness of night and hearing the earth as it gives way beneath my feat as I take in my surroundings on a late night stroll. It is in this moment that my mind becomes profoundly aware of the greatest gift, the most tremendous of blessings, causing my heart and mind cry out to my God ~ “Thank you that I am alive!”
Recovery has some important principles to it that deserve application during the holiday season. One of the most important truths we learn in recovery is that “feelings” don’t keep us clean nor do they contribute in anyway to the growth and strengthening of my spiritual condition. The only thing that does this is A C T I O N! We know the “actions” that keep us growing in our recovery are things like, step work, sponsorship, prayer and service work. Well this principle of action is a guaranteed successful tool in not only “surviving the holidays”…but quite literally making them the BEST EVER! A principle we learn in early recovery is that “self” is the root of our problems and that “selflessness” is where our solution can be found. Well, you know the saying, “We keep what we have by giving it away?” Along those same lines there is another principle I have found to be true – “To get what we’ve never gotten or to get back what we lost along the way, (perhaps hope, joy, peace, sanity or maintained recovery through the holidays) ~ we have only to get out of ourselves and try something new!!!
Here are some suggestions for staying clean & sober AND making this the BEST holiday season EVER!
What a wondrous life! The opportunity for a fresh start to live again…not one that we “deserved”, but rather one that was freely given to us. One of the most tremendous gifts I believe we have been given is in being blessed with KNOWING our “life’s purpose”…(at least one of them). A lot of people in this world go to the grave wondering why they were put on this earth in the first place and never getting that answer. WE know at least one incredible purpose! It is something that will lift me up and I can do anytime ~ and that is to be a vessel for my Higher Power and offer my hand to another sick and suffering addict/alcoholic sharing with them the solution I have found by way of my experience, strength and hope. How incredible is that?!! That someone like me with a medical prognosis at 19, that I needed to live in a group home, be put on disability and could never function independently – to being someone that the God of the Universe would actually use to provide hope, love joy and a working solution that would change the lives of the hopeless!
It is my most sincere and heart felt wish that this holiday season will be your very best. God bless you all!!!
© 2010-2018 Rebecca Balko, Alumni Program Manager