In the spirit of the holiday season, we figure it is about time to not only celebrate love, giving and connection but also a time to celebrate the journey into sobriety many amazing people are on all around the world. As we reach the end of another interesting and exciting year, full of bittersweet memories as well as joy and hope, we thought it would be nice to give a sobering spin on one of the Christmas classics; the 12 days of Christmas. But honoring the legacy of 12 Step fellowships that have been such a life-changing foundation for many people recovering from drugs or alcohol.
We know that the holidays can also be a difficult time for those who may be separated from their loved ones for the season. They can certainly be a difficult time for those who are still struggling or who have loved ones suffering. So we want to spread a little bit of hope along with holiday cheer.
So for the days leading us to Christmas, we look forward to presenting all of our incredible followers and friends with our very own version of the 12 Steps of Christmas.
Step 1: Admitting that I am powerless over the Holidays and they can make my life unmanageable
Forget the partridge in the pear-tree for the first day… let’s start off slow.
The fact is, the holidays will come around whether we are ready for them or not. I’m still trying to figure out how I survived the turkey and stuffing from November. Then BOOM here comes Christmas, with the gift giving and the family time and all that fun stuff. With all the tinsel and toys (yes, I still ask Santa for Batman action figures for Christmas) there comes a lot of stress and temptations for some people in sobriety.
Remembering Christmas with drinking…
Sometimes they want to join in “merriment” is pretty tempting. I know personally, the temptation to drink during Christmas was pretty much the same as every other 24 hours in early recovery; a lot. Lucky me, I got to spend my first sober Christmas in a holistic addiction treatment program. NICE! In all seriousness, it probably did save my life.
But I can remember the days when I used to drink with my loved ones on Christmas. After getting through the presents and coming together in the afternoon to spend time together, we would have food and drink together. The only problem, maaaaaybe some of us (ME) drank a little too much of the eggnog.
Whether or not you are a fan of “eggnog”, which in some families (or maybe just my family) tends to have a hearty serving of whiskey in the mix, there can be plenty of things about the holiday season that are tough to tussle with, especially in early sobriety.
Powerless over family…
We have to remember that our families are out of our control. All that dysfunction and colorful history with all the characters you call relatives can be, to put it mildly, exhausting and stressful. Sometimes our family members want to remind us of all the time we spent last year nodding out at Christmas dinner…
…or the time we threw up on the snowman in the backyard…
…or the time we sold all the presents under the tree and disappeared for a week…
…No? Just me?
Anyway, the truth is that when aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings all come together with the parents and grandparents and so on, reminiscing is just part of the package. Maybe for some (me, apparently), it is more painful than others. Or perhaps, maybe you still have that family member that is struggling. Perhaps they are the ones disappearing for days, drinking too much cider or even causing conflict due to their distressed state in active addiction. It can be incredibly disheartening.
Either way, it is important to remember that we are not in control of our loved ones. Early recovery for a lot of us is about learning acceptance and working through the adversities we face with humility. Family support in the recovery process is more important than most people realize.
Plus, an abundance of Christmas cookies can go a long way.
Working with that unmanageability…
The most important part of any holiday, especially this time of year, is the compassion and goodwill toward others this season is meant to inspire in us. As troubling as life can be, our efforts to share love and connection are the best way to work through that obstinacy.
No matter how unmanageable the family get-together can be, in recovery, we have to try and remind ourselves that all we are responsible for is giving as much love, compassion, and acceptance as we can, while still maintaining healthy boundaries.
So step 1 for the 12 Steps of Christmas is essentially trying to remember not to stress the small stuff, and to accept yourself and your loved ones.
As for the partridge… is that even a thing? Who has a spare pear tree these days anyway?