What the Holidays Made Me Do: An Addict’s Guide to Navigating December

Every year around the holidays, people who are stressed, upset, lonely, angry, and afraid call Neulia by Compulsion Solutions. Holidays bring cheer to many, but to those who are addicted, it can bring tremendous suffering.

When it seems like the whole world is coming together to celebrate, it’s very easy for an addict to feel that they are missing out. It’s a scary time of year. It makes people who are already feeling angry or alone act out. People more readily reach for the things they are addicted to as a coping mechanism. This only leads to feeling even more isolated than before.

It feels easy to spiral out of control this time of year, but I’m reaching out to you now to let you know there’s a better way of dealing with your addiction during the holidays. It might feel like things have gotten a lot worse for you, but they haven’t. It might feel like everyone around you is joyful and content, but they’re not. You’re being sold a lie after lie, and internalizing them is going to hurt you.

I want to help you.

Loneliness During the Holidays

Here’s the truth about sex addicts: they don’t have a clue about intimacy. They really want to connect with other people in a meaningful way, but they are unable to. They objectify, they act out, they visit porn sites over and over again, and they never feel fulfilled.

As I always say, you can never get enough of what won’t satisfy you.

At the root of your loneliness is your addiction. It’s keeping you separate from others, even at the time of year where you desperately don’t want to feel isolated. We get a lot of calls from men during this time of year because people need to be heard, understood, and cared for.

In addiction therapy, there is a concept known as HALT. This stands for hurt, angry, lonely, or tired. When an addict is feeling any combination of those emotions, they are more likely to fall back into their old destructive patterns. And at a time of year where you are watching people gather together, exchange gifts, and become closer, you are definitely going to feel hurt, angry, lonely, and tired.

Perhaps making things worse is the fact that the “holiday season” is longer than ever. Beginning in mid-September we start seeing holiday merchandise in stores. This can be triggering for you, especially if you are feeling sensitive about being alone. So now, instead of feeling sorry for yourself for a few weeks in December, you may have three full months of anxiety and resentment.

I can tell you from experience that I don’t have people calling in because they feel lonely at Easter, or Labor Day, I have them calling in now. Something about Christmas, and New Year’s Eve really affects addicts. I’m glad they call me rather than acting out, and I invite you to call me as well to start working through this tangle of feelings.

You Can Still Have a Happy Holiday

If you are in the grip of an untreated sex or a porn addiction right now, it’s probably safe to say that you will not be magically cured and also in a stable and respectful long-term relationship a week from now. I don’t say that to be flippant, I say it to be real. I also say it to point out the fact that being in a romantic relationship is not the only way to connect with other people at this time of year.

There are hundreds of opportunities all around you to make a meaningful connection. If you feel like you can’t get love from others, you can still be generous yourself. Try helping out at a local homeless shelter. Try volunteering and giving your time to a community project you feel is important. Check in on a neighbor who might also be lonely at this time of year. Show up with a holiday card, shake their hand, and let them know they haven’t been forgotten. It feels good.

Whatever you do, don’t stay alone. The celebration does not have to depend on a partner, or family. There are other options open to you. If a friend invites you out, except the invitation. If your neighborhood is doing a potluck, sign up and show up. If your church is hosting a holiday service, make it a point to attend. Your addiction wants you to remain isolated. This year, you’re going to make a different choice.

I Know this Pain Because I’ve Lived it

I’m saying this to you because I have been there. By the sweat of my brow, I dug through my addiction and saved my own life. I can’t tell you how many times I died at Christmas, or felt unbelievably low on New Year’s Eve. I’ve been exactly where you are.

I’ve had that horrible realization that the women in the porn videos and the strippers don’t give you anything. I’ve been there when the misery kicks in, thinking “Buddy, you’ve got nobody.”

But the holidays can involve a sense of fulfillment if you take the reins, and turn your situation around. This year, maybe you don’t have to sit with emptiness, or fearfulness. You might not know it yet, but someone needs you. Right now. Break the isolation and go to bed at night feeling like you did something good.

And when the feelings get too intense, I hope you’ll pick up the phone and give us a call. We are here to help, to listen, and even to wish you a happy holiday. And believe me, once you begin working on your addiction, this holiday and every one after it will be happy for you, because you’re going to make it happen.

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