Guidance

Recovery, Choices and Holidays

"The doctor is real in."

Those words are written on a psychiatrist stand the character Lucy has in the Christmas classic, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!"

That got me thinking. We're once again, at that festive time of year, with all of its parties, concerts, kiddie pageants and assortment of other holiday events. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of stuff to go to. And yet, during this festive season, it's more than difficult to get a doctor's appointment. Or is that just my experience?

When I was sixteen years old, I got the chicken pox at Christmas. Ho ho ho! There was not much I could do; there was no doctor I could see, because every single one of them were off for the holiday. So, it was me, the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" (colorized version), some calamine lotion, a couch and itching. Because I didn't get chicken pox like most kids, at age six or seven and because I was this late bloomer, my stint with the itchy stuff lasted about three weeks. It was not a festive time.

And, years' later, I seem to have run into the same dilemma repeatedly whenever I try to schedule an appointment with the doctor or dentist. Most of the time, the doctor is real out. So, what's my option? Where do I go from there?

Well, there's a potential and dangerous choice out there, left unchecked; I could turn to my definition of a panacea. Instead of dealing with the discomfort and pain in the moment, I could choose to numb, escape from and soothe it. Sounds like classic addiction, doesn't it? We try to cope and turn to anything to attempt to make that happen. Those coping methods can include a wide variety of consumption choices for each one of us: food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, just to name a few. And the excuse we possibly use for turning to them? The doctor was out.

"Surviving the Holidays with a Dysfunctional Family" Workshop

note: Members may discuss this workshop in the Message Boards HERE

Welcome to our Special Workshop tonight
"Surviving the Holidays with a Dysfunctional Family" Workshop

For many, the Christmas season is not a time of warm cozy feelings and precious memories. For some, it is a time of reliving the nightmares of childhood abuse and not wanting to return home for Christmas. It is a reminder of broken relationships and children in the custody of “the other parent.” It is a season of struggles to stay clean and sober and out of trouble when attending Christmas gatherings. How can we not only survive, but also thrive during the Christmas season?

Guidance: A Lesson from "The Bishop's Wife"

A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
Proverbs 16:9


During the holiday season, we're inundated with many Christmas movies: "It's a Wonderful Life," "Miracle On 34th Street," "Frosty the Snowman" and many variations of the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol."

But one that my husband and I became aware of years ago is "The Bishop's Wife," starring David Niven, Loretta Young and the debonair Cary Grant. Indeed, Mr. Grant plays an angel, named Dudley, assigned to the bishop and his wife, as they are challenged with raising money for a cathedral.

The Fa-La-La-La-La of Holiday Stress?

It's so easy to feel intimidated and overwhelmed by all of the holiday treats available now. We give so much power to various "forbidden food." We wonder what the caloric and "fattening" damage may be concerning the buffet that's presented to us. We're so worried about what food is to us, we often don't think much about what we are to God.

What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Psalm 8:4

Yes, there's no sugar coating it (pun intended): the holidays are challenging to us all. We are faced with numerous, unique fears, memories, expectations and simultaneously occurring situations of /joy/terror/destruction. We can, however, take a second and look at another couple of real promises, as we

Holiday Traditions and Eating Disorder RitualsPremium Content

Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7:13


The holiday season is all about traditions. Families build their own, everything from the food to the decorations to the outings.

Traditions can be wonderful. However, seen through the prism of eating disorder rituals, they can be imprisoning.

"Rituals are both a tactic not to eat and also a piece of obsessionality associated with anorexia. When eating disorders are starting, people will try to make it look like they are eating by cutting things up and shifting food around on the plate so as to not draw attention to how little they are eating." Cynthia Bulik, PhD, eating disorder specialist at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

Traditions, rituals - it all represents the same unrealistic expectation: perfection, happiness and a sense of safety.

These rituals can be anything such as counting to a specific number how many times one chews his/her food before swallowing, meticulously counting calories or eating from the same bowl and spoon. There’s an exacting precision attached to keeping these behaviors - and a dreadful fear if one is unable to do so.

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Twelve Steps to a Better Holiday SeasonPremium Content

1. We admitted that Thanksgiving and Christmas have a deeper meaning than drinking, drugging and overeating.

2. We came to believe that God, a power greater than ourselves, could help us see and celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

3. We came to believe that God could help us appreciate the joyfulness of the season as intended by Him.

4. We made a searching and thorough examination of our relationship with our addictions, obsessions and overindulgences during the holidays.

5. We admitted to God the exact nature of our addictive habits and overindulgences during holiday seasons past.

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Obtaining the Warrior SpiritPremium Content

"...and that's when I became a warrior!"

I recently caught this statement trending on social media. It's no surprise why it has caught on. With so much suffering in the world, taking on a fighting perspective can be empowering.

No matter what we've experienced in our lives, God has placed within each of us a warrior spirit. He knows full well of our challenges, setbacks, relapses, pain and loss. He also knows of our mighty purpose as well.

And it is precisely that reason why the warrior emerges. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." It's that kind of thing which attaches itself to our every breath. It's that thing which does not give up, no matter how many times we feel we cannot go on.

Whatever you have survived in your life - loss, trauma, addiction, abuse, extraordinary pain- God wants you to do something with it, in spite of it.

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:8-9

He wants to turn those ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61:1-3).

But He doesn't stop there. He doesn't just want you to fight for fighting's sake. He wants to give you the Victory as well!

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57

God wants you to experience overcoming that enemy. He didn't say it would be easy, instant or painless. But He has assured us that Victory is ours.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4

And that is often what awakens the warrior within us, often, without our own awareness. Some call it "instinct." But again, it's "that thing" which keeps going when everything and everyone else tells us to give up. It's God given.

And because it is God given,

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Abused? God has victory for You!Premium Content

There are many of us out there who have been bullied and abused.

Whether we've been beaten verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually by a family member, have been teased, thrown in lockers or picked last for teams as kids or, worst case scenario - all of the above - it certainly is a challenge to live through that, let alone, overcome it.

Many of us are underdogs, the forgotten, the least likely.

And that is precisely why one of the things that I love most about God is His viewpoint on that status. God's "M.O." is one of championing the underdog, encouraging him/her, and exalting/promoting that individual, not just in spite of the odds, but quite often, because of them.

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Discipline Or Regret: Which Pain Do We Embrace? Premium Content

I don't know who said it, but there is a quote which goes something like:

"You either embrace the pain of discipline or you embrace the pain of regret."


Yes, I know, it's a festive one.

Nevertheless, it is a reality check, especially for those of us in recovery from any particular thing which has seized our pleasure centers, all in an effort to escape pain. We desire pleasure to soothe, numb or obliterate our pain. We believe the lie it will happen. Furthermore, we also believe there can be no good thing which comes from denying our indulgences for it.

Therefore, as we stumble and relapse, we often choose to embrace the pain of regret concerning our addictions and the harmful consequences which can follow.

It's not to shame anyone. Rather, it's, again, to provide the reality check that none of us are immune from relapse and bad decisions. We are all vulnerable.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalms 103:14

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23

It's acknowledged in the first two Twelve Steps:

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The Silent Voice of TemptationPremium Content

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23


Artist, Gerald Moira, creator of the 1898 piece, "The Silent Voice," is a haunting image. In it, we see a young woman with an ethereal creature whispering in her ear.

To me, it calls to mind recovery from addiction as it relates to silence and the voice. Personally speaking, my restrictive abusive childhood discouraged any use of my voice which was considered displeasing. "Children are to be seen and not heard." That's how the saying goes.

And that sentiment had its oppressive hand in my eating disorder development and thought processes. Things "innocently" started out as a desire to lose weight and be thin. But it wasn't long before the disorders, in all of their different forms, became about control and exerting my declaration of independence. In short, disordered eating/image became my voice screaming against the silenced abuse, inequity and toxic environment I endured.

But, just because I've been removed from that confining time and space, does not mean my need to deal with those triggering voices is over. Quite the contrary, in fact. For whispers still come from unexpected corners.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21

And these whispers are certainly not affirming. In the context of disorder and self-destructive tendencies, the whispers go more like this instead…

Remember when things used to be so great...

Remember how in control you were...

Remember how much better you looked being thinner...

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