Christmas in Recovery

 In Articles for families

​​How I Enjoy Christmas ​in Recovery?

Each year I try to figure out how to enjoy Christmas ​in recovery without reverting back to my old ways. What I've come to realize is that I enjoy them by making sure I don't end up face down in a snow bank smelling like booze.

​Looking back, the holidays used to represent a "party", and at first they always were a good time. Years later, I would spend weeks trying to figure out how I was going to avoid the "party" because I didn't want any of my family members or close friends analyzing me.  I felt like they were trying to figure out if I was out of my mind or ​when I was going to start getting blindly drunk and start accusing everyone of conspiring against me. Needless to say, I don't act like that anymore, but I can still find ways ruin the party. 

​Christmas in Recovery

Today, I try to enjoy holidays around family despite whatever is going on inside.  On Christmas eve I still get roaring anxiety knowing I have to be around people that still haven't forgiven me for throwing the Christmas tree out the door and into the front yard in 1998.  I guess they're still traumatized.  Truth is, even though I've done a complete 180 (for the most part) and generally don't behave like that anymore, people are still leery of me.  I guess I can't blame them.  

Knowing my own uncomfortable feelings about my outrageous behaviour in the past, and having to deal with looking in the face of others that know exactly how I've behaved, it's no wonder as to why I don't really like this time of year.  It's a harsh reminder of what I was, and what I could be if I don't put recovery first in my life.

Here's a list of 6 things I've compiled to avoid unnecessary anxiety and bad situations that present themselves this time of year:

  1. Stay far away from the liquor store. and anyone who makes homemade wine or alcohol.  Normally these things aren't a problem for me, but this time of year the liquor stores stand out like a naked Santa on Main Street
  2. I avoid shopping malls like I avoid bad neighborhoods.  Buying gifts at the mall during this time of year can be incredibly frustrating.  Like me, most people have a limited amount of patience for long lines, unavailable parking, and crowded stores. To avoid getting thrown in jail or any other trouble I stay away from soccer mom's and shopping malls.  Thanks Amazon!
  3. I never leave the house without a plan!  On Christmas Eve and Day I always have an exact plan of where I am going and what I am going to do when I get there.  These days I tend to volunteer in the kitchen.  I find the kitchen is a safe place (as long as your busy) especially if you're cooking and serving food to others.  People tend to be less judgemental when your giving them stuff to eat.  
  4. Don't get sucked in to talking about any sensitive issues especially politics, current affairs, opposite sex, or any other topic of conversation that could become instantly heated. I don't give anybody that I haven't seen in the last calendar year a chance to say something stupid to me.  
  5. I always have an exit strategy.  If things don't go well, or I find myself in an uncomfortable position, I know where the door is and I'm not afraid to use it.  If I have to get out of dodge I got a plan.  I won't stay somewhere that I am uncomfortable just to appease my mother or any other family member.  My peace of mind and my recovery is way too important.  If it's time to go, then it's time to go...
  6. On New Years Eve AKA amatuer night I usually stay hunkered down in my house to avoid unnecessary run-ins with people who have an excuse to get drunk once per year.  In my experience these are the most dangerous people for me because they're unpredictable and they can go back to work in a day or two like it never happened.  I am not like them!  I won't go back to work, and if I do, I will probably get fired in a week or two anyway.  I've go no business hanging out on New Years eve unless it's at a marathon meeting.  I try not to get confused about that.

These are by no means is the way I live my life on a regular basis.  Normally I have no problem being around family or people that are enjoying themselves.  Just because I stopped consuming substances (JFT) doesn't mean everyone else has to stop too.  I am the one with the problem, and I have to use good judgement to make sure I don't return to that place I would have done anything to get out of.  In order to not return and stay in the darkness I once lived​, I have to take a militaristic approach (especially on Christmas) to make sure I don't end up there again.  

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