Guess what folks… we are in Step 3 of our 12 Steps of Christmas series! We are happy to share our ideas on how the 12 Steps most commonly associated with fellowships for alcohol or drug addiction recovery can actually be applied to other aspects of life. These concepts on self-awareness, reflection and compassionate action have such incredible value, that formatting them to talk about the stresses of the holidays seems like a pretty good way to spread some Christmas spirit and cheer.
We look forward to reading your comments and seeing what you think can be done to help support people in recovery during the Christmas season! While relapse is always something to protect against, the stress from relationships you may still be in the process of repairing can be pretty intense itself.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn your Holiday over to the care of your Higher Power.
Some people are probably reading this one like “PAUSE, we already did the talk about the Higher Power stuff in Step 2, don’t wanna do it again!” So before you get too worked up, let’s just relax. We remind you that this isn’t about trying to sell you on any specific concept of a god, or an established faith, or a belief system. We are not trying to recruit you.
That being said, we will talk about the whole Higher Power business a bit more, but not much.
But first, can we talk about the “French hens” from your true love… I mean, what is so French about them, anyway? Do they eat croissants? Isn’t this discrimination against hens? I demand an explanation!
When we say turn your holiday over to this Higher Power, we are not saying your sobriety for Christmas will be contingent on whether or not you have accepted a certain god into your life. Some people think when we talk about turning control over, it means you get to cop-out and take no responsibility.
Have a little faith in the holiday spirit…
Going back to the beginning in Step 1 of Christmas, we know that things with our families or friends can be unmanageable; meaning we are not always in control of how everyone gets along during the holidays. We are not in control of which uncle starts arguing about politics at the dinner table, or of which aunt decides to try and cook for the first time since that one year that nobody brings up anymore. You can’t control how many pairs of socks you unwrap this year, or how many times you hear the same carols over… and over… and over!
You also aren’t in control of how others may react to your sobriety either. If they are doubtful, suspicious or even overbearing, you cannot change them by force. It might just take some patience and some follow-through. Once we can accept that we are not in control of everything, we can learn to let go and try to have some of that ‘faith’ stuff people keep talking about.
Most of all, you can’t control anyone else’s feelings. In recovery from addiction, we learn to let other people be who they are, and to try to be the best version of ourselves in response. We learn to bring all the joy to the world we can without drugs or alcohol, and let the rest take care of itself.
Like in Step 2, we can either put that faith in a God of our understanding, in a Higher Power or belief system we have, or simply in the goodwill toward others that we always hear about during Christmas time. Just giving up the attempt to control the holidays and allowing yourself to be present in the celebration can make Christmas so much easier.
Control and responsibility aren’t always the same…
The idea that being responsible means always being in control is a foolish way to look at the world. The truth is turning things over helps you focus your responsibility for what you actually can control.
No one is always in control of everything in their lives, even the most powerful and influential people on earth. Sometimes the mistletoe of life catches you off guard. Whether we like it or not, life has a way of surprising us. So when we talk about turning things over to something outside yourself, we mean relinquishing some control, not responsibility.
Of course, you still have to be responsible for how you react, and how you treat others. During the holiday chaos, we can still be considerate of their discretions or even their suspicions of our recovery. It isn’t really the purpose of hour Christmas to win them over. We can simply try to apply all that we have learned and all we are trying to accomplish to show people we care about doing better. We can still set our boundaries and be responsible for maintaining them, even with our families.
You still might find some lumps of coal in the stockings, but at least you know in recovery you are strong enough to take some lumps and keep it moving.
Forget the French hens though, I don’t know if I trust that.