Lifering’s e-mail groups are active, thriving communities of people who use them as strong sources of sobriety support, and many members often post remarkably written sources of inspiration, hope and encouragement that many other group members call “Keepers” – posts that they save for themselves so they can go back and look at them as often as they like.
We here at LifeRing like sharing these posts, with the authors’ permission, on our Blog so that everyone can enjoy them as much as our group members do.
This month’s Keeper is contributed by list member Mary S., who has some wise words to share about how she handles the Ghost of Christmas Present. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas (or any other of the holidays around this time of year), it’s still an unavoidable part of our culture that has the power to pose challenges to us all; Mary poses simple but important questions at the end of her post, which you’re most welcome to share your answers to in the comments! Read on:
I love Christmas, but because my life has changed so dramatically, I have to be extra vigilant. I was a daily drinker, and therefore tend to neglect to talk about or plan strategies for navigating seasonal minefields. But since I cherish sobriety above all else, I don’t take chances. For example, I never take punch unless I’m positive it’s alcohol-free. Fruitcakes, rum balls, foil-wrapped chocolates–fergetaboutem! When I walk into a setting where alcohol will be present, I make sure I go on a full stomach–not filled with “pub” food, but with a protein such as peanut butter, cheese, etc. And because I refuse to perpetuate the drinking ritual, I don’t engage in “pretend” drinking, i.e. drinking out of stemmed glasses, etc. One of my “bibles” with regard to food is Liz Scott’s “The Sober Kitchen”. She gives many wonderful alternatives to cooking with alcohol, and de-bunks the myth that alcohol burns off in the cooking process.
But beyond the minefields, I have to take measures to be sure my head is in the right place. I can’t draw on Christmases past, whether positive or negative, to create Christmas in the present tense. I have to watch my self-talk. If I say things such as “the holidays depress me”, I will ensure myself of misery. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that at this season, everything that feels empty will be filled; that everything that is dark within, will be illuminated. So how do I overcome this funk, and use it as an opportunity to grow in recovery? For me, it’s making a conscious effort to come out of self. It could mean contributing to a toy drive, volunteering time, or even visiting someone who’s in the psych ward because of addiction. Sometimes this requires overcoming shyness, or worse yet, a sense that we have nothing to give. I’m not talking about a Pollyanna positivity, but a powerful life-changing resolve. With our thoughts and words, we become victims or creators of our own reality.
In early recovery, sometimes we have all we can do to get our heads around the concept of abstinence, and then work toward coming to a place of acceptance. That’s great, and I don’t believe in rushing the process. However, sustainable recovery means that I have to slowly work on all the other stuff, and to utterly let go of everything that no longer serves me. With regard to Christmas, it means that I have to consciously let go of my neediness, of my expectations of others, etc. etc.
What about you? Does the prospect of the holidays fill you with joy? With dread?
A peaceful, sober day to all!