Ho-Ho-Ho or No-No-No
Oh dear - here we are again. Sure, for some this is the season of ho, ho, ho, and maybe go-go-go. For others, it’s the season of No! No! No! Yes, some people really enjoy the holidays, and there are many who absolutely dread and hate this time of year. Those who enjoy the season are lucky, and maybe there is hope for those who don’t.
No, we can’t avoid the season. And, yes, it is everywhere – movies, television, radio, magazines, stores, restaurants, and even the streets are full of the sights and sounds of the season.
But it’s not “The Season” for everyone. Think about it – marathon movies with happy people, or people who may not begin so happy but have a happy ending, aren’t so wonderful for someone who isn’t in a relationship, or if our family is no longer available, and if our old friends are anything but supportive of our recovery.
So whether it be the music in the store, the sights on the street, or what we see and hear in the stores, or the movie we swore we wouldn’t watch, we may be left feeling lonely. Then the memories invade: of the good old days (Were they, really?), or the not so good old days. Either way, our lives just don’t seem to measure up to those pretend stories we see in the movies or on TV, or in the pictures in the magazines, or in the lyrics to some of the songs. Faced with them (or, having them in-your-face) can create high expectations. These can lead to expectations of ourselves and others. When we or they can’t meet the unrealistic expectations we may be left feeling unfulfilled.
There’s more to haunt us. We may have thoughts and feelings of loss and grief. We may find the too happy and too loud Christmas music is overwhelming. It’s cold and dark outside, and everyone is hustling around, pushing us to join in with what they see as fun. Bah!
When we’re feeling lonely, trying to find ways to meet unrealistic expectations, and we believe that we are surrounded by people who are all happy, we can feel defeated. We may not know how to cope, and yet we know that to hold on to our recovery, cope we must!
All of the tried and true suggestions we hear in the rooms are even more important if we are feeling down during the holidays. So, as trite as it may sound, yes, it is right. Go to meetings! Share. Talk with your sponsor. Talk to your Spiritual Director. Talk to your priest.
Try to avoid toxic people and places. If we really feel forced to go somewhere, like a work-related party, prepare ahead. Know what to say when tempted. Carry a beverage so maybe no one will offer a drink. Stand on the other side of the room instead of by the snacks. Breathe! Deeping breathing in the moment does help.
Back at home, practice self-care. Throughout the season, pay attention – what are we doing, thinking and feeling? Eat the right foods, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. If still feeling down, do something for someone else, especially someone in a situation that seems worse than our own. Join with some others and take blankets to street people. Offer to help in a soup kitchen. Do some errands for someone in need. Remember, as Teresa of Avila taught us, we are the hands and feet of Jesus. (But, for the codependents among us, take care! We are only the tools, not the Savior.)
Still down? Maybe it will help to just go with the flow. Get your blankie and pillow, cuddle up and have a good cry. Take a nap. Take a bubble bath. Listen to some good music. Time alone can be very healing. And, pray, read scripture or a devotional book, because that’s how we can remember we are never really alone. We are blessed. Along with everything else, we have been blessed with the Gift of Recovery. Thanks be to God!