‘Tis the season…..for sobriety! The holiday season can be challenging for any family. For anyone involved in family recovery the holiday season can be particularly daunting. Fortunately there are steps you can take to make this season what it is meant to be: filled with peace, love, and joy.
Make Home A Sanctuary Families who have struggled with addiction usually suffer in an environment that is filled with fear, anxiety, and anger. For many, these emotions have made the holiday season a time to dread. This time of year can open old emotional wounds and expose the distance between family members. For families who are new to recovery making home a sanctuary is vital. Some simple ways to make a safe environment include:
- Eliminate alcohol (this should be obvious, shouldn’t it?)
- If it is possible to minimize the number of out of town visitors, do so. The bigger the crowd, the more potential for unnecessary stress for everyone
- If you don’t have to attend the big family gathering out of town, don’t. Leaving the safety of a sober peer group in early sobriety can be risky
Treat Your Kid Like A First Class Citizen The most effective way to plan for the holidays is to talk to your child in recovery about his or her expectations for the season. You may not get a clear response but simply asking the question opens the door to finding an adequate solution. If your son or daughter isn’t ready to face the entire clan he or she shouldn’t be forced to. If sobriety is maintained there will be many years of large family gatherings ahead.
Don’t Take Temporary For Permanent The first year of recovery brings many ups and downs. The longer someone stays sober the more capable she becomes at handling emotionally challenging situations. Missing this year’s traditional holiday get together is not the end of the world. In fact, it may allow the immediate family to re-group and become stronger. Take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company.
Have A Plan And Be On Your Kid’s Side Your child may want to leave on Thanksgiving or Christmas to be with other sober people. If this happens it is not a personal attack. You can actually be preemptive by letting your kid know that if she needs to spend time with sober friends to simply let you know. When a person in recovery is aware she can escape an uncomfortable situation she will often stick it out. Either way your relationship with her gets stronger because you have made sobriety the top priority.
There is no perfect formula to make the holiday season easier for a family in recovery. For many this represents the end of several years of tradition. However, new found sobriety makes it possible to forge customs rooted in genuine harmony. Have a wonderful holiday season!