A middle aged couple, while driving to a banquet one evening decided to discuss the closeness of their relationship. To make her point the wife reminisces, “Remember when we were first dating and even after we were married a while, whenever we drove somewhere, I always sat in the middle and you would put your arm around me. I would rub your shoulders and when we stopped at a light you would lean over and give me a kiss. It seems like we never do that anymore. We now sit on opposite sides of the seat. Why is that?” The man turned to his wife and replied, “Well, I’m driving so you are the one that moved over.”
Moving away from God can happen for a number of reasons. We have already discussed being busy and being caught up in emotions. Other reasons include feelings of entitlement, self-pity, and self-centeredness. It is import for us to make a conscious effort to sit in that middle seat again with God, to move closer and practice those things that give us access to the sunlight of the Spirit. While it is a given that one’s prayer life must not falter during the holidays, it is also prudent to remember and practice service work and gratefulness.
For the past 20 years, my family has made a conscious effort be involved in service work either through a local church, a civic organization, or a nonprofit organization. We have grown closer through activities such as building houses with Habitat for Humanity, serving food to the homeless at the SAMM shelter, Christmas caroling at a nursing home, delivering presents to children through Project Angel Tree, or leading songs in a church service at the Strong Foundation home in San Antonio. In addition to helping, we keep our perspective on the meaning of the holidays; it also brings our family closer together.
My grandma used to say “count your blessings.” It was such a trite phrase to me as a child. Now, in contrast, I can look toward the holidays and remember, I have a roof over my head, I have a job I love, I have a family that I am proud of, and no matter what goes wrong I can still be grateful. Each holiday I experience is one where I won’t be stumbling around drunk and embarrassing myself and others, I won’t wake up in jail or in a ditch, and I won’t have to regret it. I now think I understand the profundity of Grandma’s words.
Michael Cox, LCDC, La Hacienda’s Family Program Director, has a few words of wisdom for families this time of year.
Graduating patients will determine for themselves if they are uncomfortable being at dinner with alcohol being served.
Family members can ask former patients if they believe they would be comfortable in the presence of others drinking.
Family members should not feel required to “manage” that decision for a former patient.
Former patients have numbers to call and people with sober holiday experience to call on for support.
Former patients should be able to say when they feel uncomfortable. If so they can leave the party or dinner when ready.
If people at a dinner become intoxicated it will not be a comfortable environment for alcoholics. Allow them to speak for themselves regarding the decision to disengage.
Transporting themselves to an event will allow them to disengage discreetly and when ready to do so.
Any environment with illegal drug use/abuse is strictly off limits.
“I…can’t… drive………55.” Sammy Hagar
Like Sammy, I could not drive 55 in my younger days. I liked 95 or even 105 miles per hour. One night while driving at 100 plus miles per hour, I noticed the needle on my temperature gauge was pointing to the red part of the gauge. Since it was not pointing directly at the “H” yet, I thought that going fast would increase air flow and rectify the problem. This turned out to not be the case and soon my engine stopped running but not before displaying a myriad of foul sights, noises, and smells. I later learned that the engine block had cracked due to the extreme heat. As I explained about seeing the needle in the red and my rationale for speeding up, the crusty old mechanic stopped me. “Son, there is a reason there is a red zone on that gauge. Red means stop!” I had blown my engine and my way of thinking was about to cost me $1700.
Have you ever heard this? “The good thing about recovery is you get your feelings back. The bad thing about recovery is you get your feelings back.” In recovery, we need to manage our emotions. Shopping, traffic, crowds, preparations, cooking, cleaning, invitations and more can keep us in an emotional red zone. Just like the car, red means stop. More accurately, it means pause to let things cool down, to regroup, or to take care of you.
During the holiday season it is important to take time out for yourself. Some ideas include keeping up with meetings, meditation and prayer, spending time with family and friends, unplugging one afternoon to watch a movie or read a good book. Essentially, practice any healthy coping skill you have learned during times like these. As the bumper sticker says, “Take it easy.”