Holidays are a jolly old time for all of us. Wrong! Holidays for recovering and active addicted families are a struggle of the “picture perfect” colliding with the present day reality of our lives. Dusting off your 10th step will increase your likelihood of a peaceful holiday season.
10th Step Work
The AA Big Book promises that, if we work the steps diligently we will learn how to handle situations that used to baffle us. Working the 10th step daily is a way to ensure we can handle difficult situations without losing our serenity. Family holidays bring out the good, the bad and the ugly in most families.
A Classic Way to Function in Addicted Families is to Pretend.
Playing pretend around the Holidays allows families to:
- Get out of the car at church all smiles after a huge fight about (money, sex, children, jobs, etc).
- Give gifts we don’t have money for and don’t need, because the kids need something under the tree.
- Ignore verbal, physical, financial abuse because it is Christmas.
- Plaster on happy faces we are going to Grandmas or Aunt Sherri’s holiday gathering and they would not understand.
- Use a substance, food, person, anger, depression to get through the Holidays.
- Keep secrets, hide receipts, disappear physically or mentally.
- Keep the peace at all costs.
Holidays are stress-filled times for most families. With the compounding demands on budgets, time, family responsibilities and the all-powerful drive to act happy and satisfied, most families can’t bear the strain.
All this pretending makes December a long month. Why do you think January includes so many resolutions? Having just witnessed the ugly/beautiful of human nature, we are desperate to try something different.
Camping Out on the 10th Step
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were in the wrong promptly admitted it.
The tenth step is the beginning of the maintenance steps for anyone recovering from hurts, habits or hang-ups. The benefits of a daily 10th Step help us to adjust our attitude to what is and away from the fantasy world of what should be happening in our families.
Recommitting to this work before the holidays arrive will help stabilize your expectations.
1)Keep a short list of people that have wronged or harmed us
If you have already completed your 4th -5th step, you have already cleared out a lot of the old deep resentments and hurts. Hopefully, in the process, you forgave yourself, too. With the 10th step, it is the same process of writing down hurts. The difference is, it centers on a 24 hour period, not a lifetime.
During the holiday family gatherings, I find it helpful to quickly scribbled lists at night of what might have hurt or been uncomfortable during the day. If it is written down, I can let it out of my head while I sleep. In the morning, if I need to work more with that issue, I can bring it into my prayer time.
2)Addressing our own triggers (fear, resentment, guilt, remorse)
Refreshed in the morning, I can think through the triggers of the previous day. What was it that made me so angry when I saw the dishes in the sink? Did I feel disrespected by the other members of the household, overwhelmed by one more thing to do, or expectant of a different behavior? Of the hundreds of things that happened today or yesterday why is this bugging me?
3) Not stuffing feelings until there is a blow-up–leaving small issues small and dealing with them.
As the family gathers for the holidays, old and new family dynamics commingle. Many members of the family may be actively working on their recovery; while others choose to stay in their well-worn family groove.
Taking a few quiet moments to breathe and think through the tenth step each night can help.
Can I rate the words or actions of another on a scale of 1-10? Is the situation something that in a quiet moment will only take a request to change? How big a deal is it? Will it cause other issues later?
4) Awareness of our contributions to the current relationship issue
Recognizing the trigger points in your family pattern is relatively easy. Not provoking those trigger points is hard. The 10th step is all about self-examination and cleaning up what you messed up before it gets any worse.
How did I contribute to the problem? What did I say, what did I do, what did I not say or do? What tone did I use? Were my expectations reasonable given the type of day everyone else had?
5) Making an amends, correcting our part quickly with the other person
My wounds in a family dynamic are old and deep. Consistent 10th Step work may not heal the deeper wounds; but it can keep you from reopening them or creating a new wound with a family member during the holidays.
If I could have handled myself in a specific situation better, what do I now need to say to the other person? Did I cause harm? Is this a short or long-term issue? Do I need to slow down and address this issue with a trusted friend before for I go to the other person? Did I pray about it?
Why Wait Until a Crisis to Start Making New Choices
For those of us in recovery, late October or early November is a great time to pull out the Tenth Step Work Sheet. With a little practice, this worksheet from Goodlifenoalcohol.net will have you sorted in 15 minutes.
During the holidays extra self-care is also important. Plan down time and fun things for you and your family. Remember perfect holidays are just a picture in a magazine. A staged photo, real life happens when the camera is turned off.
Not Scary15 Minute 10th Step Solution
Super Quick and Easy 10th Step Form So You Can Get on with Living