An Al Anon Approach To The Holidays

‘Tis The Season To Be ______’ – An Al Anon Approach To The Holidays

Let me start by wishing you the happiest of holidays. But let me continue by saying, if you’re not feeling quite as shiny as the tinsel on a tree, you’re not alone.

As the parent of an addict, jolly just isn’t at the top of the list of things I’m feeling right now.

Yes, I feel grateful that my son is alive and living in the safety and structure of New Life House East.

And I feel relieved that every time I see him, there is more light in his eyes and openness in his heart.

And I feel blessed that my husband and I have finally found a community of parents to share the gut-wrenching pain and the heart-leaping joy of this harrowing journey with.

But jolly?

Not quite.

‘Tis the season when I find myself comparing the merry and bright faces on everyone else’s Christmas cards with our cracked and shaky family snow globe .

Yes, I know that this Christmas is so much better than the drama and trauma of the last one.

And that nobody’s life is as perfect as their damn “dear all” letters would have you believe.

And that it’s truly a miracle that our healthy, relatively happy son will be staying under our roof on Christmas Eve.

But jolly?

Sorry, I’m just not there.

And every jingle bell and twinkle light makes me feel guilty about it.

But if I’ve learned anything in Al Anon, it’s to take care of myself.

So here are a few gifts I’m giving to me this season. And I’d be more than happy to share them with you:

Permission To Be.

It’s hard feeling ho-hum when the whole world’s so ho-ho-ho.

But the truth is, the sooner we allow ourselves to feel what we’re feeling, the sooner those feelings of sadness, grief, worry, fear or whatever, can move through us.

Or as I like to say, “Acknowledging the ‘oy’ makes room for more joy.”

Speaking Your Truth.

No one wants to be a major downer, especially this time of year.

But what if by sharing your truth, you gave someone else permission to share theirs?

Let’s say you’re at a party, mid-eggnog and someone asks, “How are you?”

Instead of faking it, what if you said something like, “To be honest, I get a little sad this time of the year. But I’m so happy to see you.”

You don’t have to go all Grinch on them. But by sharing your truth, you just might have a moment of connection instead of the usual superficial banter.

Celebrating What Is.

We have a choice. We can compare our lives with the pictures we have in our heads. (What we thought the holidays would be like. Or should be like. Or used to be like.)

Or we can re-train our brains to find the gift in how things are.

I find it helps to put my hand on my heart and to take a big deep breath right into my hand. And to say to myself “I am so blessed. I am so grateful.”

When that annoying Inner Critic of mine (I call her Edna), starts yammering away about what went wrong in the past or could go wrong in the future, I‘m giving myself permission to tell her to shut the bleep up.

Well, I must admit, I feel better just being able to share my truth with all of you.

Still not jolly.

But enormously grateful to be a part of this authentic and caring community.

I hope to see many of you and your sons at the Christmas party.

And wish you Happy (or whatever kind of) Holidays you feel like having this year.

-Wendi K., New Life House mother


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