Why This Thanksgiving I am Giving Back
By Rose Lockinger
I recently found out that I will not be spending Thanksgiving without my children this year. It is the first time in a couple of years that I am living near them for the holidays and to be honest I was pretty bummed out by this. The holidays are tough on me as it is and so not being able to spend it with my kids and knowing how close I am to them now made this a little difficult to swallow at first. I was tempted to descend into a pity party over missing out but then through some positive self talk I was able to turn this around.
Two years ago I spent my Thanksgiving in a treatment center, which if you’ve never experienced, honestly isn’t that bad, but it is nothing like spending it with your loved ones. There are a lot of people around and the treatment center that I was in made an effort to make us feel at home, but I remember that I missed my children terribly and I just wanted to be with them.
Last year, even though I was living in Florida at the time, I was able to spend the holiday with my family and children and it was just an incredible time. It was the first time in their life that I was sober for the holiday and I was able to really be present with them and enjoy our time together. Since I lived a thousand miles away every minute that I got to spend with them was precious and I made the most of all of it.
Now, I moved back home last year and I get to see my kids on a regular basis, but I still wanted to spend the holidays with them. I wanted to share a new memory, our first thanksgiving after I’d moved back, but it didn’t pan out that way and after I got myself out of the spiral of self-pity I was descending into, I started to make plans for what I would do that day.
I initially settled on the fact that I would cook myself a good meal, binge watch some TV, go to a meeting, and call it a day. I decided that I would treat it like any other day that I had off and no plans, and just take the time to be with myself and enjoy the solitude of my life today. I snuggled into this idea and thought about how nice it would be, with the weather changing to just stay inside all day and relax, but then I was hit with another thought. The thought was, ‘Rose, you are making this whole thing about you’ and I realized that while it would be nice to do nothing, Thanksgiving would be much more meaningful if I set out to help others.
I found a local soup kitchen and called them up and volunteered to help out for a couple of hours on Thanksgiving. When I hung up the phone I instantly felt better about the situation, because in all honesty as much I was looking forward to a Thanksgiving of TV and alone-time, part of me knew that spending it in this manner would not work out the way I thought it would. I knew that after a few hours of watching TV I’d get antsy and start to think about how I was cheated out of a holiday with my kids and we all know how this line of thinking ends. But once again my recovery trained mind came to the rescue and told me to get out of myself and put others first.
I remember when this concept was first introduced to me and I remember thinking how is helping someone else going to alleviate my own problems. It didn’t really make sense to me at all, because in the past I always operated under the assumption that if I had a problem or issue, I should sit around and think about it until I either drove myself nuts or a solution presented itself that usually had nothing to do with me sitting around and thinking. I say this half-jokingly, but it is the truth and so the idea of getting out of myself was extremely foreign to me.
Today though I do try to implement this into my life and the reason is because it works. There have been so many times in my recovery when I was totally caught up in my emotions that I just couldn’t see anything else in the world. Then I’d get a phone call from a friend who was struggling with something and you know what, after listening to them for a while, my own problems seemed to magically dissipate, and not because they went away completely, but because I wasn’t trapped in a never-ending cycle of thought about them.
So that is what my game plan is for this upcoming Thanksgiving. I am going to get out of myself and try to be of service to those who have less then me. I am going to do my best to help in any way that I can and while I still will not have my children next week, it is okay because it allows me the opportunity to express the true meaning of the holidays, spreading goodwill and cheer to all of mankind.
It’s not too late to do the same. If you think that you might be alone on Thanksgiving and you are already planning a pity party for one, then cut that out, and find someway you can get out of yourself. If a soup kitchen isn’t something you want to get involved with then go to a local 12 Step clubhouse and find out what you can do to help out there. Many clubhouses run meetings 24 hours a day during the holidays and they are always in need of people to chair or help in any way they can. Don’t spend Thanksgiving trapped in your own mind, go out and be of service.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.