Every so often, I do something right. Today was one of those days, because I made the choice to get out of the house early so I could start Thanksgiving Day with a meeting. Sipping coffee, I listened to the familiar readings and to the voices of my brothers and sisters of the spirit.
Today, as on every major holiday, twelve-step fellowships are holding marathon meetings. They’re places where those in recovery go to keep their program strong through the holidays: resisting the various temptations, coping with emotions triggered by difficult family relationships, or fighting the loneliness caused by not having family near at this time. Walking into one of these meetings feels like stepping off of a moving walkway into a safe zone.
As December approaches, we enter into the worst month of the year for mental health. Therapists, hospitals, police and rehabs all know it. The strain caused by the discrepancy between what we’re told we should be having and feeling and what we actually are is too great for many. Add the dark, the cold, financial strain and trying to do too much and even those without an addiction or a mental health diagnosis are a mess.
In the rooms of the fellowships, we know how hard it is during the holidays, People are urged to be more proactive than ever about staying strongly linked to the program. So, even though I wasn’t feeling crazy (yet) this morning, I chose to hit the meeting, hoping to get a ounce of prevention.
Now, as I sit down to write after my relatives have left, I’m so glad I did. Not only did it help me stay sane through the occasion, the meeting was the most gratitude-inducing part of my day. Hearing what people are grateful for helps my perspective so much, and that meeting alone helped me take a big step forward in being grateful for my daughter’s new diagnosis instead of clinging to past baggage. Being grateful, in general, for every complication that has come into my life in the past few years, because none of them would even be issues if I were not in recovery.
It’s said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Today, that cup of coffee at the morning meeting was the most important sustenance I had: without that spiritual nourishment, I probably would have felt deprived at needing to abstain from many foods, let alone my other addictive triggers.
For some of us, the holidays are about survival at times. In this next month, I wish for all of us a loving dedication to making the time as nourishing as we can, along with a willingness to seek help from each other before we desperately need it.