Holidays are generally viewed as times to get together with people we care about. It may
be the time when there’s a sense of obligation rather than pleasure. Family can be a
source of comfort or at times a source of emotional pain. Sharing holidays together is a
mixed blessing at best for persons in recovery.
Addiction has often robbed us of relationships, quality of time and memories we choose
to hold warmly in our memories. Memories can be a source of joy or sorrow. Emotional
pain may be something addicts try to cover up generally with drugs or alcohol during
periods of use. When in recovery it may still be a tender topic and a point of concern.
Finding the joy in remembering may in fact be an art. To find the nuggets of happiness in
the middle of difficulties help to contribute to us having better holiday experiences.
Making holidays more joyful by creating new positive experiences helps to build a solid
foundation for more positive holidays today and into the future. The past will always be
what is was, but we can choose on what to focus our attention. In the same way it is
possible to be selective in where and with whom we spend our time.
Taking responsibility for our personal recovery is important. If there are people who
insist on making recovery difficult we may choose to spend time with others who are
supportive of our recovery.
Regardless of whether we are remembering or creating new memories it is important to
realize there will be both positive and negative memories. Our addiction wants us to
celebrate the joy by indulging in our addiction while the sorrow beckons us to pity
ourselves through the addiction. Either influence of addiction can be a trap for persons in
It is essential to develop sober strategies for being celebratory and joyous. Equally
important is the development of coping strategies for times when people let us down or
our expectations are left unfulfilled.
This year you may choose to take some pictures and make a memory book of this year as
a year in recovery. Caption the pictures with new memories you create this year. It can be
a rewarding time. Know there will be memories you have to deal with emotionally.
It is positive to journal about these memories at the close of the day. When you journal be
sure and indicate what you plan to do today with the memory you are facing. It can be as
simple as accepting people for who they are at that point in time. It may be making a
decision to limit the amount of time you spend dwelling on this memory. In any situation
know you have choices. Today you can choose recovery regardless of what you memory
The subtlety of addiction may result in self sabotage if we do not clearly understand how
to handle the up and down moods of remembering. Living in the moment, being honest
with ourselves, and remaining accountable to someone we trust can make it possible to
get through holidays with success.
Successfully encountering the holidays with all they bring is a great accomplishment in
the recovery process. Be encouraged day by day with your successfully managing of
thoughts, emotions and ultimately the behaviors. Success is found in the moment, in the
response to each moment. Each holiday can be an opportunity for new memories for
recovery moments… and they do seem to get better over time
Written by Wendell Montney