Happy Holidays

"We need to become clear internally on what messages are coming from the disease, from the old tapes, and which ones are coming from the True Self - what some people call "the small quiet voice".

"We need to turn down the volume on those loud, yammering voices that shame and judge us and turn up the volume on the quiet Loving voice. As long as we are judging and shaming ourselves we are feeding back into the disease, we are feeding the dragon within that is eating the life out of us. Codependence is a disease that feeds on itself - it is self-perpetuating.

"This healing is a long gradual process - the goal is progress, not perfection. What we are learning about is unconditional Love. Unconditional Love means no judgment, no shame".

The holidays were always a very hard time for me emotionally. Being alone on Christmas and New Years Eve was very painful. So painful that sometimes I would arrange to be with someone or with a group of people just so I wouldn't be alone. That often was more painful than being alone. And on those occasions when I was in a relationship during the holidays it was also painful because there was something missing, somehow I was failing the other person or she was failing me because even though there were moments of Joy and Love, it never felt quite like it "should" feel.

After I had been in recovery a few years - in the course of trying to figure out how I set myself up to be a victim with my expectations - I had a very important insight about holidays. I realized that holidays - not just Christmas and New Years Eve but Thanksgiving, Valentines Day, etc. - along with days like anniversaries and my birthday were the times which I judged myself the most. My expectations of what a holiday "should" be, of where I "should" be at a certain age, of how my life "should" look at this particular time, were causing me to unmercifully beat myself up. I was buying into the disease voice which was telling me that I was a loser and a failure (or going to the other extreme and blaming someone else for my feelings.) I was giving power to the toxic shame that told me that I was unworthy and unlovable.

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I realized that I was judging myself against standards that weren't real, against expectations that were a fantasy, a fairy tale. The fairy tale that everyone should be happy and cheerful during the Christmas holidays is ridiculous just like the myth of happily-ever-after is a false belief that doesn't apply to this level of existence. The holidays are just like every other day of the year only magnified. That means there will be moments of happiness and Joy but there will also be moments of sadness and hurt.

Christmas is about Love and birth - rebirth. The Winter Solstice is the time of the longest darkness and marks the point of increasing light, the new beginning. Hanukkah is a celebration of, and time of, rededication. Kwanzaa is a time of recommitment. These are all times of both celebration and introspection. Of assessing the past and focusing on what we want to create in the future (New Years resolutions.) Any new beginning, any birth or rebirth is a also an ending. With every ending there is sadness, feelings of loss and grief. Loss because of Loved ones who are no longer in our life, grief because Loved ones who are still in our life cannot see us or understand us, sadness because of things that ended and people we have had to let go of during the past year.

What is so important, what has changed my experience of these Holidays completely is allowing myself to accept the reality of my life (looking at both the half of the glass that is full as well as the empty part) and be wherever I need to be emotionally - that is, allowing myself to be emotionally honest with myself. That does not mean that I have to be emotionally honest with other people. If I am feeling grief because I am alone on the Holiday it does not serve me to share that with someone who is not being emotionally honest - someone who will shame me for not being cheerful. If I am feeling hurt or scared or angry I will only share that with someone who is a safe person to share with emotionally - that is, they won't discount and invalidate my feelings or try to fix me.

I don't have to live up to some false expectations about how I "should" be feeling today. It was trying to deny the pain and sadness, the anger and fear, while judging myself as shameful for not feeling what I "should" feel or being who I "should" be, that caused me to get depressed and suicidal. When I am in my feeling process I actually am a lot happier and feel more Joy than I ever did before I learned how to be emotionally honest. It was on Christmas about 10 years ago that I got real clear that I could feel more than one feeling at once. I was sad that it was Christmas and I was alone, and I was grieving for all of the Christmases that I had been sad and alone - which were very valid and legitimate feelings. But as I went around to various clubhouses and friend's homes that were having open houses, I could feel happy to see people I cared about. I could feel Joy and gratitude that I was in recovery and feeling my feelings at the same time I was owning the sadness of that day and the grief of all the lonely holidays that I had experienced.

It is so very important to stop judging ourselves against someone else's standards and shaming ourselves due to a fantasy of where we "should be". We are exactly where we are supposed to be. We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. We are perfect in our Spiritual Essence, we are perfectly where we are supposed to be on our Spiritual path and from a human perspective we will never do human perfectly.

A natural normal part of our human experience is feeling the feelings - we need to accept that. No one who is being emotionally honest with themselves can go through the holidays without feeling sadness and hurt, anger and fear. The good news is that the more we are able to own those emotions the more moments of peace, Joy, and happiness we can have.

So, have a happy, merry, sad, Joyous, painful, peaceful, scary, cheerful in the moment Holiday season experiencing what it feels like to be alive in human body. Whatever your celebration: Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, New Years, etc. let it be about the new beginning; the rededication to: the recommitment to: the rebirth of; life. But most of all, let it be about Love by first of all Loving yourself enough to tell the critical parent voice in your head to shut up with all the comparisons and shame and judgment.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 24). Happy Holidays, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Last Updated: August 6, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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