Any holiday can be dangerous when you’re in recovery. They can still feel that way to me and I’ve been in recovery for 23 years.
But this time of year is the worst. There are so many holidays—Thanksgiving, the New Year and Hannukah or Christmas or Kwanza or the Solstice, whichever you chose to honor—all within a few weeks of each other. To make matters even more difficult this time of year is also the darkest. Even if you’re not someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, the dark days this time of year makes many of us draw inward. That can feel like depression, or a pervasive sort of sadness. And that makes us long for that little something to make us feel better.
All of this happens long before you get to your auntie’s house and throw yourself back into that family argument that’s been going on for the past twenty years!
Since we aren’t bears and there’s no chance of just hibernating until the middle of January, what can we do to prepare ourselves for the next few weeks?
What about taking a few minutes and cataloging everything in your life that you have to be thankful for? Humans are funny. We have a strange habit of giving the negative things that have happened to us so much more power and presence than we do the positive things. We dwell in trauma, always glancing past our blessings as we look for the next trauma we’re sure will be hitting us soon. Now is a perfect time to take stock, to sit back and concentrate on the wonderful things that have been a part of our lives.
So, sit down for an hour. List everything that seems even slightly wonderful that has happened to you over the past year. Include even the tiniest little thing that occurs to you. When you’re done, review the list.
This is who you are, the person that these wonderful things have happened to. Give yourself permission to continue being that person right through December 31, right through the stress and strain of the holidays.
Say thank you when called for. Smile even if no one else is smiling. Don’t give power to the negative by worrying about how awful that meal will be.