For many, those words mean parties, self-indulgence, excessive eating and drinking, followed by a good sporting event on the TV (with perhaps a bet or two on the outcome). Happy days.
It all sounds attractive to addicts – some of us were doing that sort of thing all the year round. Yet recovery is about changing attitudes and behaving differently. In early recovery we sometimes forget this and revert to old patterns of thinking. Christmas time is a good place give ourselves a reality check. Try challenging your attitudes to the festive season with these questions:
- Do I think I can only have a good time without alcohol and drugs?
- Do I feel sorry for myself at this time of year and if so, why?
- Do I feel resentful that I can’t join in the drinking, that it is somehow not fair?
- Do I feel bored at the thought of a sober festive season?
If the answer to any of these is ‘yes’, then you have work to do:
Remind yourself that addicts are wired to go after short term gratification – the quick fix – whereas it is far more important to consider our long-term needs.
Remember that you have the power to change your feelings – self pity, resentment, boredom or whatever, by changing your thinking. Look for the positive, count your blessings and take action to make yourself feel better by helping others.
Remind yourself that true contentment is said to come from three things: a sense of purpose in life, a sense of competence that we can do what we set out to do and a sense of belonging. If you feel yourself lacking in any of these respects, then attendance at a fellowship meeting will give you all three.
Ask yourself – do I feel grateful to be clean and sober today, and if not, why not?
Fairytale of Smarmore
A visitor to Smarmore Castle wrote this small poem of gratitude – I think he is a Pogues fan because you should hum ‘Fairytale of New York’ while reading it…..
Fairytale of SmarmoreIt’s Christmas Eve here – I want to give my thanks. I’m here to change my life – An opportunity. I’m kinda missing you And feeling all the pain But next year I’ll look back And recognise the gain. At first I thought it wrong That some can drink and smoke, I couldn’t see that fun Could come just drinking coke. They say I have to change Or else I’m going to die – so best get on with it Instead of asking why. There’s plenty of tea and There’s places to smoke But the wind goes right through them And the coffee’s a joke. I gave up my iPhone the very first day, I wanted my laptop – they took it away. But the boys and girls who are my peers Are more than I could hope And I’m grateful for this special Christmas time. They put you in groups and there’s plenty to tell, And all kinds of therapy, lectures as well And swimming and gym till you’re ready for bed. The one to one counselling does in your head. But the nurses and therapists really do care They go the extra mile And I’m grateful for this special Christmas time. Tomorrow’s Christmas Day – We’ll start our lives anew. Next year we won’t forget The day our dreams came true. There’s work that must be done And lessons to be learnt But one day at a time I’m going to make it through.
Best wishes for a happy and sober festive season. Recovery rocks!
By Christopher Burn, Therapist