Ah… my first sober holiday season. I have to admit that I’ve been thinking about drinking a lot. There is a lot of talk about it right now. Holiday parties and advertising are the main culprits. I have been able to get through it so far without any issues, despite the increased stress. Getting work done before the holidays, shopping and maybe even a little bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder have got me feeling a little down at times. My old self would self-medicate with alcohol. Now I am focusing on gratitude and consideration of others.
You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
I read this blog post a few days ago, “How the Alcoholic (Grinch) Stole Christmas“. Seasonal grumpiness has been a theme for my recovery lately. For me, the solution lies in service unto others. The key for me to avoid being the Grinch is to think about how it’s not about me anymore. I’m a human among humans. My primary concern is to be of maximum helpfulness because I know that it makes me a stronger and better person. My intentions should not be for self-gain, especially in the “giving” season. The goal is to be courteous, patient, and emotionally sober. That’s what we need more of this time of year. People are out in droves, getting road rage on their way to malls, and ending their days with too many adult beverages. My hope is to counteract the frenzy with some loving calmness. My goal is to NOT be the Grinch for once in my life.
Miracle of the Mundane
I’ve been thinking recently about Mark Goodson’s website “the MIRACLE of the MUNDANE“. Admittedly, I haven’t read many posts there yet, but the whole idea of his website is excellent. It’s especially meaningful this time of year. I love the idea that beauty lies in the small, mundane things that we experience every day. This is a theme that you will find in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life“. The really important things in life often go unnoticed. It’s the simple things, like spending a moment talking with another person, or making someone smile, that puts an imprint on our hearts. David G. Allan of CNN points out in this article, “It’s A Wonderful Lesson“, that “Our lives are full of wonder … by the mere fact of our interconnectedness.” The bottom line is that our life impacts other people, whether you realize it or not. We can choose to be there for other people, or continue to act in selfish ways.
The book “Emotional Sobriety”, which you could purchase at Amazon, has a great little story about being helpful to others. The author, a 72-year old man, starts out by describing a day in the life. He wakes up feeling discomfort caused by his chronic health condition, but has the wisdom to tell himself that he can still manage to have a good day. Reluctantly, he goes to a local nursing home to pick up his sober, 90-year old friend, so that he could give his friend a little break from nursing home life. They went to a fast food restaurant, then visited their old neighborhood. They walked around, ran into people and had conversations, and then they returned to the nursing home. At the end of the day, the author says that what started out as another dreary day turned into a memorable one. Doing this good deed made another person happy. In turn, he was able to get out of his own head and delight in simple joys. He was initially reluctant to “drag” this guy around town, but it ended up being a wonderful day.
While other people are out there getting liquored up and justifying it with “It’s the holidays!”, consider just trying to be a good person. We need more lots of good people this time of year. It is important for us sober folks in recovery to have tolerance and to be available for emotional support. The cold months are probably high time for relapses.
The final pages of Chapter 7 in the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous) are my “go-to” reading when it comes to being around drunk people.
“So our rule is to not avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there.“
The key is to NOT think about what you will get out of the occasion. This is selfish thinking. Instead, “Think of what you can bring to it”. The authors continue to say, “Why sit with a long face in places where there is drinking, sighing about the good old days.” If you can muster up the energy, why not show people that you can still have a good time, even though you are not drinking? It is our responsibility to be available to people who might be in need. Being intolerant of drunks is not being helpful.