For many people, the social whirl of the Holiday Season can be heaven or hell. For the most part, however, we do have some control over how these gatherings go. Granted, in all honesty some families and old friends will not yet be ready to let someone who is in early recovery back into their lives, even if you got an invitation to the party. If you experience this remember: The problem is their state of mind, not yours. Give them time. It will all work out for the best in time. Honest.
Your attitude will, in a large part, determine how others come on to you and react to you. So if you are lucky enough to have people who are ready to welcome you back, here are a few suggestions for how to make the event a happy one for everyone involved.
TIP: Arrive with a positive attitude.
Arriving looking obviously guilty or uncomfortable will only make others feel the same way. Plan ahead to arrive with a smile and a positive attitude. Others will probably follow your lead, or at least some will. You don't need to be best friends with everyone at the party, and it sure helps to have at least a few friendly and cordial.
Tip: Get involved!
Help out with whatever needs to be done. Initiate conversations with those you are most comfortable with. Take part in interesting conversations. The point here is, don’t take a seat in the corner and try to disappear. Holiday gatherings are all about sharing, reconnecting, interacting… so do it!
Tip: Don’t freak if someone offers you a drink
Whether the person making the offer is testing you or just spacing out, smile and say something like "I prefer cranberry juice" (or whatever you enjoy drinking now). If they apologize for offering, just smile and let it go. The weather is always an easy topic for changing conversations and putting people at ease.
Tip: Don’t play the “Do you remember the year when…” game
Often family gatherings include recalling past memories of growing up and exploring life as siblings or family, including the adult years. If you are in recovery, this game can only lead to someone bringing up one of your own less than stellar performances, perhaps an unnecessary reminder of how you used to behave, which will bring focus to the wrong part of your life and character.
If this game gets underway and you can't avoid such highlights, simply smile and say, “That was then. Thank goodness this is now!” and either leave it there or try to unobtrusively change the subject.
Tip: Watch that you don’t become defensive
For whatever reason, sometimes uncomfortable things happen. Don’t take anything personally. Think like it's “water sliding off a duck’s back”. That will help you keep from getting offended, or being defensive. The fact you are able to maintain your balance will leave a positive impression on those who are paying attention to you, your life, your status and well-being.
Tip: Don’t hesitate to leave if you feel you need to
A holiday family gathering should not be a test of your endurance or patience, and especially not a challenge to your wellness. Stay only as long as you are comfortable doing so. If you start feeling pressured, just say you’re tired, have another home to visit, or whatever will get you out the door gracefully. Don’t leave people feeling guilty. Leave them smiling at the fact you were there, and they enjoyed their time with you.
Happy Holidays from Sunrise Detox
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