Surviving the Holidays
My continuous encouragement is to Stand Up & Fight, but for many people, the holiday season might be more of a fight to survive.
Although I am in a very different place this year than I was for many years, even for me, this is not the most wonderful time of the year.
Beginning sometime in October, you cannot avoid holiday advertising. Come December, Christmas music plays non-stop on the radio and in stores. Television commercials portray this time of year as one of abundance, family, laughter, and celebration. That may be a bit hard to swallow when your child is lost in the belly of their drug Beast.
I have come to a place where I work to try to enjoy a time of year I once loved. However, you may be in a place where you just need to survive. These thoughts will help.
During the holidays, it can be difficult to maintain perspective. While Christmas music is playing, and commercials are filling your head with what yours “should be,” remind yourself that few people have the holidays of television commercials and Hallmark™ movies. A friend told me recently that she is disappointed every Thanksgiving and Christmas. She conjures up scenes in her mind of the perfect holiday. Unfortunately, she is spending it with imperfect people in a far from perfect world, so naturally she is disappointed. My friend’s adult children are all doing well, her elderly parents are healthy and active – she has a good life. Yet, even she finds year after year, her holidays do not meet her expectations.
You likely have much lower expectations for your holidays than my friend does. Yet, invariably, as moms of addicts, we are incredibly disappointed with each passing holiday. Do your best to remind yourself that few people are living the holidays of their dreams.
Another perspective that I have found helpful is to consider that the two-month or so holiday season contains only a few days that are actual celebrations. Although it is a holiday season, you still have to go about your normal life (work, eat sleep, clean, shop, and pay bills, and so on). Nobody is spending two months celebrating every moment of every day. It will help you to make it through the holidays if you remember it is only a few days in 365-day year.
What you focus on becomes magnified. What you are focusing on most during the entire year is your child, who is lost to addiction. During the holiday season, you cannot think about much else. It is normal to think about the person you are missing; the one who is lost. Unfortunately, when we focus solely on one person, we do so at the expense of everybody else.
I spent years absorbed with thoughts of what holidays used to be and what I wished they were. As I write this, I have not spoken with or seen my daughter since last Christmas. It would be easy to spend countless hours wondering where she is and what she is doing during the holidays. Instead, I am choosing to focus on those who are with me. I will not insult you by suggesting that it is easy, but the alternative is miserable.
Taking care of yourself on your best days is a challenge. Self-care during a time of year when your loss is more apparent may seem impossible. Spend some time with yourself, and on yourself. You may need to skip an event or two, if it allows you much needed rest and self-nurturing. People are especially busy this time of year, so you will have to make it a priority to take care of you; do not make the mistake of waiting for others to do so.
What are some things you can do to take better care of yourself during the holidays (and all year round for that matter)? Go for a walk or get some exercise. Take a hot bath, get a massage, or read a good book. Give yourself the gift of self-care.
Do your best to enjoy your holidays, whatever they look like. If all you can do is to make it through, then do that. What you are living through is hard enough without all of the holiday hype.
Valerie Silveira is an award-winning author, international speaker and Beast slayer. Through the devastation of losing her daughter over and over to the addiction Beast, and finally losing her to a senseless murder, Valerie empowers others to stand up and fight for their lives. She is the creator of Nine Actions to Battle Your Beast and the Still Standing Sisterhood membership program. Valerie uses her books and Sisterhood to guide women in their quest for happiness, peace, and purpose. She builds up women of courage who stand strong against any Beast in their lives.
Until her death in August 2016, Valerie chose to call her daughter Jamie, “Jordan.”