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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Codependents Guide to a Happy Holiday

By Mary deYon

Are you looking forward to the holidays — or dreading the upcoming family gatherings? There is the worry about money, or deciding on the perfect gifts. I remember having the fear of impending doom every year while trying get into the Christmas spirit.

My family was not like the Christmas movies. But every year I would declare, “This year will be different.” I’d set about decorating the house and planning the menus that would make the holiday perfect.

One year I was intent on making a Martha Stewart cake from scratch. I focused on sifting the flour, fluffing the eggs separately, creaming in the sugar, not to mention the elaborate directions for the frosting. It took all day to make this cake resemble something like a snowball. Spending all that time on the cake made me really behind in preparing the rest of the feast. I had to stay up all night Christmas Eve to finish. The next day no one even cut into my snowball masterpiece, eating the cookies and fudge everyone else brought.

Another year I got lost decorating three Christmas trees. I searched for the perfect lights and perfect color of red ribbon for each one. Did I think if we had three Christmas trees instead of one I would insure a perfect holiday?

I remember getting up early every Christmas morning to make the stuffing for the turkey. I’d chop the onions and celery, sauté them while cutting up the stale bread to make the homemade stuffing that had been a tradition in my family for years. My son always asked me to make the stuffing out of the box too. Which I did, for years. Slaving over the homemade dressing AND making the box stuff that everyone liked better. Why couldn’t I let that old, worn out tradition go?

I made pounds of fudge each year to give away but that hardly ever happened. I needed plenty of sugar to go comatose from all the drama around me. I was not unlike my husband in his drunken stupor.

All of this obsessing over decorating and preparing the perfect meals was a definite form of denial. If I made myself really busy under the guise of creating the perfect holiday I wouldn’t have to deal with the real issues in my life.

Even when we were invited somewhere else for the main event, I would worry whether my gourmet salad would be up to their standards. Or if my sister would point out the 20 pounds I had gained or if my mother would say, “I liked your hair better before you cut it.”

There was the worry they wouldn’t like the gifts I spent way too much money on or in how many ways my husband would embarrass me this year. Many times I either feigned illness or made myself sick to get out of going to these events. I wish I would have learned earlier what I know now.

We have no control how people will react to the dish we prepare, the presents we have chosen or how our alcoholic or addict will act.

When I learned this beautiful thing called detachment, my life became so much happier. The holidays are a great time to practice detachment.

What if you could step back from the drama, stress, worry and look at the whole situation like an extremely comical Christmas movie?

If I had I would have seen the humor in my Dad passing out in his plate and actually blowing bubbles in his gravy. Or I would have laughed about the sitcom-like event watching my husband falling down drunk in the driveway, then sitting at the Thanksgiving table in a bloody shirt and a forever changing purple goose egg on his forehead.

And I would have laughed when my daughter-in-law spit out my goat cheese and arugula salad saying, “Yuck, that tastes like dirty feet!” rather than looking at her in horror.
What if you could step back and see the humor in all the drama unfolding in your life? When we laugh we alter our consciousness from the reality in front of us. Isn’t that what we are trying to do when we turn to drinking, drugging or eating too much—altering our consciousness?

Laughter is a great way to change your attitude about what’s going on. Then you might be having too much fun to notice the craziness.

What if this holiday season you don’t overspend on gifts to get approval or you don’t worry whether the ribbons match or that the cake and stuffing you made came out of a box or that your sister thinks you are fat?

What if instead of doing everything perfectly, you decided 80% was good enough? What if instead of doing it all yourself, you let others help you. People like to be involved, it makes them feel included in the party.

What if you declined invitations instead of making yourself sick to avoid them? What if you said, “I’m not able to do that,” instead of taking on other people’s responsibilities? You have the right to be happy and joyful through the holidays in spite of the crazy people around you. Remember:

It doesn’t have to be perfect. 80% is good enough.
Ask for help. You don’t have to do it all.
You are allowed to have boundaries. It is OK to say “NO.”
Honor yourself. Eat well, rest. Take a nap if you need it.
Don’t overspend to get approval.
Be realistic in your expectations of having the “perfect family.”
As drama unfolds, step back and pretend you are watching a comical movie.

Mary DeYon is an author, speaker and Codependency Coach who insists on bringing humor to the Truth. For more about her programs, Podcasts and events, visit marydeyon.com. You can contact Mary at mary@marydeyon.com.