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Preparing for the Holidays

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Everyone, in recovery or not, knows how stressful the holidays can be! We all set ourselves up with expectations that can sometimes be impossible to realize. It can certainly be this way for me. I definitely was when I was new in recovery. My poor parents! I based my expectations on the families I knew from TV, like Leave It To Beaver, The Donna Reed Show and Father Knows Best.

Needless to say, it was a set up for disappointment. My parents were never like that. Nobody’s parents were like that. They couldn’t be. TV shows are pure fiction. What I was expecting of my parents was as unfair as anything they had ever done to me.

It was step 3 of the Twelve Steps that helped me come to peace with the stress and disappointments of the holidays.

*Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.*

What I hear in this step is that I don’t have to do anything all by myself. My Higher Power is always ready to assist, *IF* I am ready to turn my will and my life over to Him. That doesn’t mean I expect Happy Days Again or Hallelujah from my Higher Power; that’s no different than expecting my parents to be Donna Reed or Robert Young. What it means to me is that God will never give me more than I can handle. If I start feeling I’m in too deep, I stop myself, take a breath and once more commit to turning my will and life over to the care of God as I understand Him.

How do I do this? From the beginning I’ve used a little prayer I created for myself:

Thank you God for my gifts, my blessings, my health, my happiness, my sanity and my sobriety.

After reminding myself of all the wonderful things that I’ve already been given, I’ll often add a few more things, like watching over my family and friends. When I need to, I ask for strength, especially around the holidays.

Know that the two months can really be rough. Don’t let stress and expectations cause you to lose sight of your recovery. If you feel alone and lost, reach out. Ask for help, whether from your Higher Power or through a meeting.

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HERWriter Guide

Thank you for this great post, Monica!

I know that the holidays can be stressful for many people, especially when they have to be around family they don't like or have money problems - and with all the food and drink around - it can be hard for people with certain addictions too.

Simplifying our lives is key. Even at hectic holiday times! We will have family staying with us for nearly two weeks but we'll have some days trips organized, and plenty of food stocked so that we're not rushing around at meal times or in a panic at how to entertain everyone. We'll also enjoy movies by the fire and some down time so that we enjoy Christmas rather than view it as a chore. Christmas was never meant to be a chore but women, in particular, find it stressful. Delegate!

I'm one of those people who only surrounds myself with positive people. I'm lucky that my inlaws are great! But even if it's a relative or friend - if they are negative, I either remove them from my life or have a quick and polite conversation and then move on! And it doesn't have to mean 'people' either. Toxic environments like an brother's house full of drama or clubs and bars filled with too much temptation are bad for us. I think too many of us deal with toxic people/environments in our lives because we think we should sacrifice our inner peace for the sake of outer peace - rather than surrounding ourselves with people who are supportive. While it's good to have patience with difficult people or situations, we have to remember that it's ok to eliminate or minimize our contact if they are toxic.

And these issues come to the fore around the holidays. I think we need to be brave and keep the toxins (in whatever form they come: addictions, people, situations) to a minimum and surround ourselves with friends and family (and an environment) that support us rather than attempts to poison our happiness.

I'm so glad you have found sobriety, happiness and peace of mind! Enjoy the season, I think it's going to be a great one :)

November 11, 2009 - 1:28pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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