Christmas is the holiday in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In my family, Christmas is a joyous time of the year where family comes together to express our love for each other with gifts, festivities, and other traditions. Christmas is the holiday that makes me feel the most warmth inside. It is a reminder of how important family really is. Christmas has always been an exciting time of the year, especially during my childhood. I remember believing in the mysterious Santa Claus that I could never stay awake long enough to prove his existence, until the next morning, finding the gifts he left around the tree. I was always amazed and filled with laughter and joy as I spent the holiday with love from my family. Christmas traditions will always be held in my family and passed down through generations to show the importance of connection and the miracle of love that Christmas brings.
For most of my life, holidays have been hard for me, especially Christmas. Before I got sober, I never enjoyed anything that came with Christmas, unless I got presents. That was all Christmas meant to me. I also thought everyone else perceived it the same, as well. I used to spend Christmas alone and high in a dark room somewhere. It wasn’t until coming to South Orange County Detox and Treatment that I actually got a feeling of love, community, and true friendship. Now, I understand that Christmas is not about the presents, but about being around the people you care about and having a good time celebrating Jesus’s Day of Birth. Without Him, I would not be here today.
Growing up, Christmas was a Holiday I enjoyed because it was the only day everyone was home and together. Christmas brings up a good emotion when I think of it. After my parents split, holidays became a joke kind of like when you learn Santa isn’t real, that’s how I feel about every holiday. We live in such a society where unfinished work gets rewarded. Basically, I do not understand the significant of holidays. This past year I have opened my heart up to Christianity and figured I would tune in and celebrate the day for what it really is, Jesus Christ’s birthday. God brought Jesus into this world to set an example for us to live proper and genuine as a whole. The meaning of Christmas to me this year, given the time and place I am at in my life, is to remind myself what God has done in my life by bringing wonderful people into my world who God has chosen to speak through. Everything I am Grateful for today is my Present, along with me being off the streets which is my present to My Family.
I am learning to try and be attuned with the people in my life who I care about by being curious about them and by asking how they are doing and feeling. For me, being attuned means learning about another person in order to understand them and what makes them tick. I try to put differences with people aside, and look for similarities. Sometimes I jump too quickly to judgements and I interpret something they said as wrong because my head will only look at the negativity in a situation. I’m working on having patience and understanding with people instead of jumping to conclusions. Also, I learn a lot about people by paying attention to body movements and mannerisms because these are signals as to how they are feeling. With people I deeply care for, I try to read cues and only engage in discussions that will help them feel better, avoiding the things they don’t want to hear. Sometimes this triggers my co-dependency and can steer me into bad places by withholding too much in an effort to please that person. There are a lot of people that say they like constructive criticism but the reality is they do not want this at all. I find that, for me, it’s really difficult to turn off my awareness which allows me to be more attuned to people. Sometimes I feel like my awareness is a radar going off and I feel the need to look away but I’m also learning that there are times where it is healthy to point out things that I’ve noticed in people that I feel attuned to so that they can also be aware and work to change. I didn’t understand my co-dependency until I got to South Orange County Detox & Treatment, where Salina has shown me that sometimes being nice isn’t actually nice at all! With that being said, the most important thing I can say about attunement is that I’m finally learning to be attuned with myself which has been a journey of self-exploration and fulfillment.
When I am engaged in a conversation or situation that involves someone’s feelings, I find it helpful to be attuned to this person not only so I can manage the scenario better, but also so I can better understand what is going on with them. I feel that making the effort to be attuned to someone else is the ultimate way to show respect because you are considering their thoughts and feelings. This is helpful because it puts me in a state of mind where I am able to respond and give feedback if necessary. I also find it important to try and be attuned to what people are saying so that I can actually listen to what they are trying to convey. This also makes the other person feel good because it shows them that you are interested and engaged. The most important reason that I try and ensure I am attuned to others is because if I am aware of a negative emotional state that they are in, I can do a better job at being helpful and supportive if they are suffering.
In order to be in a true relationship that is worth keeping, it is important to be attuned to your partner, family member and/or friend. It’s important to be able to understand other people’s feelings as well as be able to be aware of your own feelings. Sometimes I can misinterpret other people’s feelings, especially if that person is expressing feelings that are foreign to me or that I don’t understand. If I don’t learn to understand those feelings in someone else, or in identify them in myself, it could potentially turn into anger or depression which can go against my intentions of trying to help someone else. Personally, when I get angry, the temperature in my body raises and I feel restless; those are some of the signs that I may not be aware of how I’m really truly feeling. When I am able to understand and stay attuned to another person’s pain, I am able to comfort them and help them feel better. Being willing to stay attuned to another person can help you, and others, in so many ways throughout life. I’ve had experiences where I have stayed attuned to friend or family member in distress which ultimately has lead to saving that person’s life in one way or another. We all have opportunities to work on attunement with friends, family, and those we care about but sometimes we don’t take advantage of those times. If you are fortunate enough to find people that will work to attune themselves to you, you are blessed! Fortunately for me, I have Salina and South Orange County Detox and Treatment who commit so much time to being attuned to us clients. Salina and the staff are dedicated to helping all of us to get another chance at a new life and because of that, instead of chaos, I can now live in harmony.
Being attuned to something means to be in harmony with it. Being attuned with God is important to me because I need to be on the spiritual path and I need to constantly be checking in with Him in order to make sure I am on the same page. I am also working on being attuned to my family, friends, and sponsor because if I am not attuned with them we might class and I may not understand what the problem is. I don’t want any of them to drag me down and vice versa because in order to be a good friend, father, and husband I need to be attuned to the people I love so that he can help lift them up. I am committed to going down a positive path in my recovery and I believe this will attract other positive people which will help to improve everyone’s understanding of each other.
Throughout this journey of recovery I have put myself through a lot of unnecessary trials that have made it difficult to live serene and happy on a regular basis. Drugs, alcohol, gangs, lies, etc., all buried me in depression, doubt, danger, and hopelessness. I wanted to end all of this pain, and I thought it was too late for me. I had to make a choice to start living or to start dying, and dying was just too easy. I knew myself before the drugs and I was a good person and I recognized that this is when I was truly living. I wanted that life and in order to get it back I couldn’t let any of these old temptations get in my way. I had to fight though the doubt and pain to achieve happiness and contentment. The only way to push forward is to hold on tightly, maintain my resilience, and never give up.
Resilience is strength from within one self that keeps us going through setbacks and struggles when we feel truly defeated. Resilience is the energy we find within that allows us to regain control and “play the tape through” before acting and making matters worse. Resilience can make itself apparent in a split second even though it evolves over time as we learn to change our destructive patterns. Being able to recognize my negative thoughts and not acting on them helps enable positive thinking, which gives me the hope and faith I need to know that there is a change for the better in my journey of recovery. Resiliency comes to others when there is no other choice but to move forward and not give up. The importance of understanding a potential life or death situation makes all the difference.
Resilience is the capacity to recover from difficult situations arise in life. For the last 6 month I have been working hard on my resiliency. For me, resilience wasn’t something I learned overnight; I’ve learned it by staying sober through uncomfortable emotions. I was so used to distancing myself from emotions and only being able to get through them with some kind of substance. I’ve gone from sleeping on my friend’s floor with no motivation for life, to working on myself in treatment to enrolling in school and creating a vision for my life. There are a lot of highs and lows that go along with the rollercoaster of life but, for the first time, I am learning who I am. I am able to deal with all the things that get in the way of me achieving my goals. I’ve learned to retrain my brain and learn to be patient through the pain; learning how to be comfortable with myself. I feel proud of myself every time that I am able to come out the other side of all the ups and downs of life and stay sober! I wish I had learned these skills at a younger age but the beauty of learning it later on in my life is that I am able to look back at all my experiences and see where I went wrong and how I could have used the skills of resiliency.