Though it feels longer ago than it was, I had the great pleasure of being able to go home for Christmas. While my overall social life was limited, it still turned out to be a very good thing.
I was a bit nervous about spending an additional amount of time with my family. It’s not that I don’t like my family but I have my own way of living that is distinct from my parents that I knew would be greatly diminished. I’m already not a huge fan of the commercialism surrounding Christmas, so let’s just say I was a bit worked up about Christmas this year…
However, I really enjoyed my time at home. My dad and I shared a simple but powerful moment of listening to music together. It may sound strange but because of the tune of our relationship, this is actually a very vulnerable thing for us to do.
Though we like the same music, we haven’t ever really shared a laugh or hug over music. I can’t recall ever going to a concert with my dad. This is quite appalling considering the number of albums he has and how much time I spend listening to music. I’ve been longing to have a shared passion with my dad my whole life, so it was really awesome to have that moment with him.
That was by far my best Christmas present.
The Gift of Being Take Care Of
Being around people who have known me my whole life—my family and friends—was so rejuvenating. Living in another state (and a new city in that state), I can’t tell you how emotionally taxing it is constantly introducing myself to new people, many of whom never really get to know me deeply. But being home was like being wrapped up in one big hug with people who know me inside and out.
Before I started recovery, I was always looking for times to be alone so that I could act out. Oddly, I really didn’t have a strong desire to act out when I was home recently. I thought that was very peculiar. But I think because of my recovery journey, living so far away from my family, and my development in maturity, I have grown more fond of spending time with my family.
This all made me think of my experience at inpatient rehab. While there, I had never felt so taken care of in my life. I think about that feeling all the time. There was no stress from work, paying bills, relationships, or social media. So, in some sense, it wasn’t realistic. But I think there are still elements from the experience that can be duplicated in our everyday lives, especially our deep need for common connection and a sense that we belong to something bigger than ourselves.
In any event, the time I spent in rehab and the months afterward marked the longest period I’ve been sober. While the healing aspect of inpatient rehab was huge, a large part of it was because I had so much community time.
I had people whom I could play with. Learn how to cook with. Play music with. Be vulnerable with. In short, do life together, unlike with many of the superficial relationships that we find oftentimes in the modern world.
It was out of that abundance of communal love that I was able to abstain from acting out. It’s not that I didn’t struggle, of course. But most days it was pretty easy to stay away from my acting out behaviors. I felt loved, accepted, and taken care of.
Integrating the Message
Perhaps you haven’t progressed to quite the extent I have with your family. That’s okay. For me, it has been a multi-year project of grace. Or, you might not have a family. But whether it’s our natural family, close friends, members of our 12-step group, or neighbors, we all need to be located within a loving community—connected with people who truly know and love us. And we don’t only need the love that flows from a community to be successful in our recovery, but also to be a healthy and whole human being.
So, if you’re able to spend time with others who love you, I encourage you to do so as much as you can. It really can make such a difference in our recovery journey. And if not, pray for the grace to find a loving community to nourish and sustain you both in recovery and your life in general. It may not come right away but by being prayerful, persistent, and patient, you can find a community that loves, accepts, and takes care of you in the ways for which we all need and yearn.
Quarter Joe is a lifelong Catholic and has been in recovery for pornography addiction for nearly three years. He is passionate about the spiritual path of the 12-step model and the power of Jesus in the Eucharist in bringing healing and transformation.