by Joshua Hoe
Happy Thanksgiving! To all of you and to your families!
Struggling on Holidays
I have certainly struggled on holidays.
For several years, as I have mentioned, I was in prison and prison is hard normally much less during holidays.
Now that I am out, I live alone, am single, and my family lives far across the country in Oklahoma (I am in Michigan).
There are lots more ways to stay in touch now then when I was, for instance, a kid, but I still have to really stay present in my program to keep it all together on holidays.
Because, like many people in general and also many addicts, being lonely and feeling isolated are triggers for my acting out.
Use Your Tools!
Crazy as it might seem, I use my tools when I am feeling down or alone or isolated.
Tomorrow, I am cooking for all the people in my house. I went and did the shopping today. If you can’t be with your family, make everyone part of your family.
Lots of things can help you work your 12th step.
In addition, for the last several years, I have gone to meetings on Thanksgiving. Sometimes, I have been the only person there. But other times, someone else shows up and we are both grateful to have someone to share with.
I also try to work my phone list. The literature in my program has this great passage about calling particularly in the pit of your own hell, not because you want to, because you don’t want to.
I try to call my sponsor or another program person anytime I am feeling down. And I try to develop the discipline to call whenever I feel triggered (in the moment of my hell).
I often hear that people have a hard time calling because they don’t want to bother people (that probably goes double on weekends). I know for me, I had to work hard to get past that.
I convinced myself that everyone in the program understands how important and hard calling is, and treats most calls as sacred and important. I try to either answer or get back to everyone who calls me quickly.
Good Substitution and Bad Substitution
Often I look at being triggered as a place for substitution. I can substitute something positive in the place of acting out.
For me it can be a phone call, going to the gym, going to see friends, meditation, all kinds of things.
There is a reason that bars see a huge uptick during the holidays. Lots of people are lonely and depressed and look to alcohol or some other escape to substitute for their loneliness or sadness.
You can choose to substitute something good instead.
I hope you are with family and friends this Thanksgiving. But if you are alone, find a meeting, call people, and find good substitutions when you are triggered.
I wish you a happy and sober Thanksgiving!