I want to share with you my experience getting through 27 holiday seasons clean and sober. It started with me making a conscious decision to do the supernatural thing - stay clean one day at a time no matter what. If you are truly serious about your recovery and growing in faith, these are some of the things I've done through the years and continue to do:
1. Pray and Meditate. Use Step 11: "We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for His will for us and the power to carry that out." At this point, I know His will for me is to stay clean. From that understanding, a fruitful and lasting recovery became possible.
2. Bottled Water. I take my own bottle water to office parties, even family gatherings thereby assuring that what I drink is available and unaltered. I NEVER drink from a glass that I've left unattended. Thus, I can be assured no one put any anything in my water. This also alleviates my picking up someone else's drink by mistake.
3. Non-Alcoholic Beer a No-No - I don't set myself up with non-alcoholic beer. I know me and the taste would tickle my fancy and before I know it, I'd want the real thing--an alcoholic beer. Eventually, the beer would not be enough for me and I'd be back in the vicious addiction cycle again. As the 12-step program literature reminds me, "One is too many and a thousand never enough."
4. 12-Step Program Marathon Meetings - Before the holiday arrives, I've already mapped out where all the marathons are in my area or wherever I'm going to be for the holidays. These come in handy in my early days of recovery as well as with family when negative feelings can arise. Nobody knows how to push your buttons, like family. I can get away to a meeting for an hour, share my feelings, listen to the experiences of others, get a hug, and then go back to the family--reinforced and focused on what I need to do to make our time enjoyable. In the beginning, I couldn't go around my family because they would pressure me to drink, out of ignorance of how addiction works. They were so glad I wasn't using "hard" drugs they'd offer me alcoholic drinks. As far as my life goes, it's all hard!
5. 12-Step Program Hotlines and websites. Before I go out of town, I research to find out where meetings are located. I've also asked members to meet me at a meeting, and talk to then when an urge to use arises. Online driving directions can sometimes throw in a wrong turn; so having the number to the hotline, where people are familiar with meeting location is always a good thing. There are many 12-step programs and recovery links on my website.
6. Rely on God to allow you to lean on others. To do supernatural things, I need supernatural help which is God and the people God uses to help me one day at a time. Doing the opposite of what comes natural for me to do. For example, I naturally do not want to call somebody but with supernatural help, I can reach out to a trusted friend for guidance. 9 times out of 10, when you talk about your urges to use, you won't act on it.
7. Gratitude. I try to remember what the season means to me: A new beginning that God so graciously gave. The thoughts usher in an attitude of gratitude because I'm free from the bondage of active addiction.
8. Do not hang out with people that still use. There's a saying: "If you hang around a hotdog stand long enough, you're going to eventually buy a hot dog." Instead, I surround myself with those are serious about their recovery and mine.
9. Understand you have an allergy. - During the holidays, drinks and drugs abound. People are offering, trying to persuade you that "you've been clean awhile, you can handle it." When offered anything that would compromise my recovery, I say, "I'm allergic. I break out!" If they insist, I continue, "I really am allergic! I break out in hopelessness. un-employability. homelessness. whorish behavior, thievery..." Everyone usually laughs first; then back up off me. The offers cease. I get through one more day.
10.Don't take yourself too seriously. Be easy on yourself, laugh, and develop a sense of humor. Happy New Year everyone. Keep your primary focus--staying clean and sober no matter what.
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