By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.
Almost every holiday song, greeting card and festive, seasonal sentiment we hear or see, this time of year, mentions peace and joy. The two have seemingly become synonymous with the holiday season. Of course, no one can argue the collective desire to experience both, at least once a year. But do we really have to wait until December to make peace and joy our focus?
The answer is a resounding no.
Those of us in recovery for addiction, codependency, ACOA, and more are aware of the chaos and misery behind us. We know the self-orchestrated drama, heartache and failure tied to active addiction and dysfunction. And, though we had a glimmer of hope, the holidays never saved us. In fact, they typically became opportunities for more victimization, manipulation and self-sabotage.
Recovery, on the other hand, has given us chances to understand and experience serenity—inner peace and joy—on a daily basis. We have learned and are continuing to acquire life skills and coping mechanisms that grow us, rather than stunting our personal development and thwarting our success. And, as a result, we can face the holiday season, better equipped to deal with our own ghosts of Christmas past.
So, maybe it’s time we extend the holiday sentiment of peace and joy far past December. Perhaps we—in recovery—need to encourage each other to experience these terms as states of being, rather than simply fleeting emotions. That isn’t to say we should learn to wrap our daily struggle and pain in holiday lights—so to speak—and pretend all is right with the world. In fact, just the opposite.
Rather than rescuing ourselves with happy holiday tunes and the bells and whistles of Christmas—or any other day—we should learn to sit with our pain, peacefully and joyfully. More to the point, we must become comfortable in the silent nights, befriend and fall in love with ourselves—everything about us. The good. The bad. The ugly. And, when we do, we will know—continuously and consistently—the true meaning and experience of peace and joy.