Well we are a few days away from Christmas day and I wanted to touch base with you all to see how your Christmas lead up is going.
How are you?
I realise that I cannot hear your answer but you can take a moment to really reflect on the answer to this question: How am I doing?
Christmas is, of course, different for everyone and every family. For a family living with addiction, however, it can be tainted with ‘the nightmares of Christmas past’ and hold anxiety on what this year will bring. Christmas often involves expectations that can lead to a lot of disappointment for everyone.
As a child, I would hope and expect that my father wouldn’t drink on Christmas day because…, well…, it was Christmas right! A special day where everything was happy, a day for an alternative reality to exist one in which dad wouldn’t drink for ‘me.’ Unfortunately, every year he drank (as a child I did not realise that addiction cannot take annual leave and does not adhere to statutory holidays) and every year I was angry and heartbroken. I wonder if you can relate to this experience and hope for a reprieve for just one day?
Because addiction does not go on holiday my gift to you and your family this year is a Christmas survival kit focused on what you can control this season -yourself.
Decide what Christmas means to you. Identify what is important to you in this time.
We can easily lose sight of what truly matters. Let go of what you cannot control and reconnect with yourself and your values.
Decide to enjoy yourself
This may mean creating new traditions and different ways to celebrate. Christmas may need to be different this year- that’s okay.
Make an inner commitment to yourself that you will mindfully engage in you and your family’s celebrations, even if your loved one isn’t present. Remember that you can be a positive role model to the rest of your family, you can inspire a new way to ‘be’ this Christmas.
Don’t try to be all things to all people
Know you are not responsible for anyone else’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviours- except your own.
With all the noise that Christmas can bring take time to tune into yourself. Be aware of your self-talk, perceptions and presumptions, physical sensations, and emotions. Treat your mind and body with love and respect.
Create some me time
Step back, take a breath and put the kettle on. It’s ok to say ‘No.’ If you need to, take some time away from the Christmas commotion to de-stress and focus on you.
Be aware of your boundaries and why it is important to keep them at this time. Also, be clear in communicating these to others.
Choose who you spend your time with. As best you can limit time with people who de-energise and upset you. Choose to spend your time with those who ground you, accept you, and cheer lead for you.
This Christmas may not be what you wish for but gratitude takes you out of yourself and connects you with something larger. It can provide you with balance and perspective to the good things happening in your life and around you.
As always- be kind to yourself
Acknowledge how far you have come this year. Let go of judgements and remember the best present you can give to your family is to be present.
I wish you a restorative Christmas and a healthy hope-filled New Year