As we count down the days until the big guy with the hipster beard in red comes to slide some Christmas love under our trees in exchange for some glutton-free cookies and vegan almond milk, we also take some time to talk about what is important for those in addiction recovery during the holidays.
We’ve made it all the way to Step 5 of our 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery. Today we are talking about how that little bit of Grinch might slip out, and how to see when the mean green gets out.
Step 5: Admit to ourselves and another human when we are being a Grinch.
In Steps 1, 2 and Step 3 we talked a lot about acceptance and facing unmanageable situations during your Christmas in recovery. In Step 4 we took a lighter approach to making a personal inventory by making it a Christmas wish-list. Now, for Step 5 we are setting ourselves up for more accountability during the holiday.
By this time we have talked about trying our best to accept the things beyond our control, and now we look even more at what we can control; ourselves. Our actions and reactions do have an effect on others, and Christmas time is definitely a time to make sure we are putting our best foot forward in our relationships. So after we have accepted what is out of our control, and set goals for how we hope to make the holiday in recovery a special one, we have to admit when we are being a Grinch.
In the past, some of us might have literally stolen Christmas. Maybe you didn’t disguise yourself as Santa and snatch up the tree and decorations to take Christmas away from everyone else, but you may have done some things in the past that made it hard on your loved ones. Either we actually got far enough down the road of addiction that we were pawning off presents, or we were simply stealing our loved ones’ peace of mind.
This year, let your true love keep her 5 golden rings.
Maybe now your heart has grown a couple sizes since getting clean and sober, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a little Grinch in you somewhere. The point is to be accountable to yourself and your loved ones when that mean, green, anti-Whoville machine peeks out.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to be a Grinch when the holiday is in full gear… all the noise, noise, NOISE!
We all need a Max to our Grinch…
I hope I’m not the only nerd who remembers Max, the lovable side-kick puppy who Dr. Seuss’s Grinch character disguised as a reindeer to pull the sleigh on their Christmas tree burglary spree.
You remember? Ok great… I was worried for a minute.
Anyway, Max seemed to be the only one in the majority of the story that the Grinch actually cared about (in his own dysfunctional and unhealthy way). Max was Grinch’s day one; his BFF; his road-dog! Everyone should have at least one friend as good as Max. Because even though the Grinch was so cold, Max was his buddy and had his back.
Now, you might think you can just be friends with your own dog for Christmas, and that’s cool, but you’re missing the analogy.
Having a Max is having someone during the holiday that you can confide your frustrations and difficulties with. If your mood is taking a turn for the worst, or you get stuck in a funk, having a friend like Max to admit your Grinch-tendencies to can help lift some of the weight off your shoulders. In many addiction recovery groups, they talk about how important it is to have people you can be honest with; people you can depend on.
Being able to admit when you are struggling with staying grounded and getting through all the stress brought on by the season can make a huge difference. Sometimes just talking about the temptations or the aggravations can make facing them easier. So this holiday season you should not hesitate to share your struggles with someone who you trust. They might even have your back like Max.
Remember what Christmas is about…
In the classic children’s story, the Grinch realizes that he had never stopped Christmas at all, because even though he stole all the ribbons and tags; Christmas came without packages and boxes and bags. He has the sudden revelation that this special time of year is about coming together with connection and compassion.
This year, when you can take the time to talk to those you love about what is bothering you, you have a better chance of working past it. We all have to remember in recovery that we can bring so much more to the holidays with love and compassion. So when the Grinch in you tries to steal away your own Christmas joy, face it head-on. Admit when it is there for yourself and others. Connect with your support, your sponsor and your family at a time when it is most important.
And seriously, don’t steal those 5 golden rings.