When I was growing up my family celebrated Thanksgiving at my Nana and Pop Pop’s house. It was far from the picture-perfect holidays you see in the movies. As a young child, I was blissfully unaware of the toxic environment surrounding me but as I got older it became more and more apparent. I thought it was normal behavior for the adults to drink too much alcohol and to fight verbally and physically. I ended up bringing many of these unhealthy behaviors into my own adulthood. It wasn’t until I began working my own recovery that I saw how much those past holidays had influenced me.
While in active addiction, I spent many Thanksgivings isolated in my room or avoiding family gatherings altogether. When I got clean, I had to do a lot of work on myself to develop coping skills, a positive perspective, and a support network. I began my recovery by showing up to 12 step fellowship meetings, getting a sponsor, moving into a sober house, attending intensive outpatient, and working the 12 steps. Things didn’t change overnight but as the years have gone by, my life has become better than I ever could have imagined.
Making these changes helped me develop relationships with a support system of people who were creating better lives for themselves. I am constantly learning and growing, and continue to strengthen my own recovery by giving back the kindness that was shown to me.
In the last few years, Thanksgiving has looked a lot different from those of my past. I attended a Friendsgiving Potluck at THRIVE the day before Thanksgiving last year and had an awesome time surrounded by the people I chose to be in my life. Also last year, I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time at my home with family who I have healthy boundaries in place with. We went around the table, and each shared something we were thankful for. I am so grateful to be able to experience and make these new positive holiday memories.