The holidays present a unique opportunity to develop and practice new living skills in recovery. Because of the extra stress created in various areas of a person’s life, you have the opportunity to practice new stress management skills, gain an ability to maintain balance while juggling conflicting life demands, and to begin to repair damaged relationships. Addiction puts tremendous strain on even the closest families.
Although the holidays have the potential to be hazardous to the health of a recovering alcoholic/addict, they also serve as a golden opportunity to healing the harm caused by addiction. Because most people hold the value that these special days “should” be spent with family, people in early recovery will be seeing some of their relatives for the first time since abstinence.
For many families, last year’s festivities still sting from the rampages of addiction. For some people in very early recovery, these first interactions with family members may be best kept superficial and light. For others in later recovery, with new living skills and recovery skills under their belts, it may be an opportunity to delve further into relationship repair. Below are highlights of suggestions on using the season for growth in recovery:
- Keep your expectations realistic and manageable. Explore old expectations that have hurt you in the past when they didn’t come true. Check to see if you are still harboring those expectations.
- Remember that life goes on. Holidays now are not the same as your growing up years. You are not a child. Don’t act like one. Don’t expect your elderly mother to wait on you hand and foot, do all the prep work, cooking, cleaning, and give you money.
- Make new traditions to accommodate your new healthy lifestyle. You are an adult. You get to choose how to spend the holidays. You get to make your holidays match your own values.
- Spend time with people who love you and who support you. They may or may not be your family. Don’t wait for them to contact you. Reach out to them.
- Take responsibility for your own behavior with your family. You cannot change them, but you can change how you interact with them and how you respond to them. Don’t justify your own inappropriate behavior by theirs.
- Use this holiday as an opportunity to re-connect, but if not ready for relationship repair work, keep things light. Don’t get into old grievances.
- If you choose to make amends for your past inappropriate behavior, talk only about your own behavior. Don’t take any one else’s inventory.
- Keep your priorities straight. Make decisions about accepting invitations, visiting relatives, and other holiday activities based on how it will affect your recovery.
This article is taken from my e-book, “The Recovering Person’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving Through The Holidays Without Losing Your Sobriety or Your Sanity”. To purchase and download this e-book or others, click here.
If you or someone that you love is dealing with addiction issues, the educational information on my website is available to you. My website (always a work in progress), has numerous articles on Addiction and Recovery, Marriage, Communication, Sexual Addiction, Mental Health, and Skill Development. Other informational resources on my website include a Recommended Readings page, a Links page, an Ask Peggy column, Surveys, and e-books. To sign up for a newsletter that will alert you to additional informational opportunities on this topics or others, go to http://www.peggyferguson.com
Dr. Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D., LADC, LMFT, Marriage/Family Therapist, Alcohol/Drug Counselor, Writer, Trainer, Consultant.
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