Monday, December 2, 2013

Time to Just Be

What a wonderful holiday.  I totally love Thanksgiving.  My daughter and her family came down (they'll be back after Christmas) and my niece and her family were there along with my boys and assorted girlfriends.  We ate way too much, screamed at some football and laughed until our sides hurt.  No drama.  No guilt.

That's why it's called the Magic House.

After they left on Saturday, the hubs and I decorated the inside of the house.  It looks great and I only had to trim the tree once since at the end of last year we bought a pre-lit tree for downstairs (we already had one for upstairs).  And then it happened...

The melancholy set in.  That danged anxious, sad feeling I get every year around the holidays.  I fight it and fight it and eventually it goes away, but it can leave me feeling flat and not fully present.  It sucks.  I've battled it for many years and have often attributed it to depression, money troubles or seasonal affective disorder but really, I've never put my finger on exactly what it is.

I know for a fact it's why I loved holiday parties so much.  Parties were an opportunity to escape the melancholy.  Dress up in festive holiday attire and head out to a place decorated with Christmas lights where we would eat yummy food and, of course, drink our faces off.  The more parties the season held the better in my opinion.  Of course I spent too much, ate too much and drank so much that I can barely remember most of the parties.  But oh they were FUN!!!  At least I think they were...

Anyway, after the kids were born the holidays changed and became about Santa and the magic that was Christmas.  To see their little eyes shine when they opened their gifts.  Or the wonder when Santa came to mass and knelt down to bless the baby Jesus in the manger.  Those were also great escapes.  Ones that I will treasure always.

But down deep, the "thing" bubbled and brewed.  That anxiety, depression, melancholy was merely sleeping, waiting for a chance to pounce...which it inevitably ended up doing.  Break out the bubbly!  Time to take a ride on the Escape Express!  First and last stop...oblivion.

During my first few sober Christmases I never gave it a second thought.  I put the feeling down to being sober.  After all, how freaking boring is Christmas without wine?  I have special Christmas wine glasses and everything!  No wonder I can't get in the "spirit", I'm freaking SOBER!

Except this year I know that's not the case.  I LOVE being sober!  I wouldn't give up this sober life for ANYTHING.  Then why do I still feel this way?  What in the world is wrong with me?

So I stopped and tried to really examine what I was feeling.  Anxiety...check.  Sadness...check.  Flat...check.  What is at the root of this?

Then it hit me...I'm waiting for the other shoe to fall.  You see, there's no way my life can feel or be this good.  Something bad is bound to happen...it always does.  The holidays of my youth were always spent waiting for something to spoil the good time.  My father got drunk and spoiled it.  My mother brought drama where ever she roamed.  The crazy side of my family ended up fighting.  IT WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING. 

So now I literally refuse to let myself get caught up in the good feelings for fear that I will be disappointed later when it all goes to shit.

Here's the thing...so what if it goes to shit.  I've carefully cultivated a home filled with love and support and joy.  Ours is a drama and guilt free home.  It's warm and loving and caring and kind.  It's the home I always wanted when I was growing up so even if shit does happen, we'll all be there to support one another and deal with it as it comes...just like we always do.

So it's time to stop living in the past.  It's time to live in the NOW.  Not dwelling on who made me feel what way 40+ years ago.  Not worrying about what might happen.  Not trying to control every fucking thing that may or may not come our way.

Just enjoying the spirit of the season.  The joy of a well chosen (or made) gift given freely and unconditionally and filled with love.  The warmth of family together and enjoying being that way.  The celebration of the birth of God's only Son.  All the cheesy Christmas movies.  Digging in the bottom of my purse for change so that I can drop something in every red kettle I see. 

Just being and loving in the Magic House.

Namaste

PS - If you have a minute or two and you pray, please send up one for the families who are living with the aftermath of the New Town shootings that happened last December 14th.  This must be an awfully hard time for them.

16 comments:

  1. "The Magic House"...how wonderful. I want one, too. I agree with you about living in the now. I think I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop as well. Thanks for saying these things at your point in the process of sobriety. It is nice to know that it isn't all about booze...it's also about letting go of the past. I appreciate you and your words. xx

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    1. You're so welcome. Thank you for your kind words.

      Sherry

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  2. I love hearing how you love your sobriety and that it is working...it keeps me going!! I have some of that anxiety crap that comes and goes too...always a work in progress.
    I am doing this sober thing!!

    I will say a prayer for the Families of New Town.

    Jenny G.

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    1. Thanks Jenny.

      And yes...you ARE doing this sober thing!!!

      Sherry

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  3. OMG, are we sisters, did we grow up in the same house? Only it was my Mother who was drunk. You so perfectly and eloquently said exactly how I feel. And my life is very similar now. So lucky and grateful today. I finished decorating around 11:30 last night. Now my grandchildren are awaiting Santa and Birthday Jesus. Life is good. Melancholy is part of life, so much easier to cope with sober. Great post. Can I just copy and put on my blog?

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    1. Of course if you really want to! LOL!

      Sherry

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  4. This is such a powerful post; it is me exactly (except that I am not sober; still struggling with that). I was sober for 180 days but now I am drinking again. I have so much turbulence in my head and heart that the only way to silence it is with alcohol. But, then I wake up hating myself. Vicious cycle; I am 59 years old and still feel like a wounded child (particularly during the holidays). I too have tried to create a Magic House for my children; exactly what you said...what I wanted as a child but didnn't have. I think I have done a good job, but sometimes my alcohol messes up the magic and that is tragic for me and makes me almost suicidal since the thing I am most proud of in my life is the family I created for my two children. How do I get off this merry-go-round?

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    1. It makes me so sad to hear you say that the merry-go-round leaves you suicidal sometimes. Addiction is a horrible, horrible thing and the only thing that is stronger than addiction is US. WE are stronger and you can do this.

      Reach out to a therapist or find a local AA chapter (or maybe one not so local if your afraid of running into someone you know). It's important, VITAL that you KEEP TRYING!!! You were sober for 180 days...you KNOW how good that feels. You can feel that way again...I PROMISE!

      Feel free to email me or any of the sober bloggers out here. We've all been there. Email a couple of bloggers...maybe one who's in early sobriety, then maybe an "old timer" and then maybe someone who is struggling. Or read some of the "drunk books" we mention in our posts. (Start with "Drinking: A Love Story")

      Do whatever is necessary BUT DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TAKE ONE DRINK. You can do this...you know you can...you've done it before and it's waiting for you.

      All you have to do is decide to just stay sober today. Let tomorrow take care of itself.

      Sherry

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    2. Great advice from Sherry here, Anonymous. Can you not drink for just one day? Just one day. See how that works. It's been done before, you mentioned. Perhaps there was something now you understand that you didn't before, about how this thing drags us down and pins us down and keeps at us? As Sherry said - reach out. Email any or all of us. Almost all the blogs have a contact email. it doesn't have to be your life story. Just a "hey - I am not feeling good today" or "I feel like picking up right now", etc. We've ALL been there. And we know what it's like...and that is why we are all out here reading and commenting and emailing each other...it's support. We lean on each other, regardless if we're in AA or not. If we're seeing therapists or not. If we pray or not. We are just a bunch of alcoholics who know that isolating doesn't serve us. We need one another.

      I have been suicidal - I know that despair well. It need not be that way. There is so much you have to offer. And even writing what you did here...that's big. And believe it or not, it's helped me. because you have brought me to a place where I remember what it's like, and the joy of where it has brought me now...and it can happen to you as well.

      Take advantage - email Sherry (she gets back quickly - I know!) and you can email me too - carrythemessage164@gmail.com (and hey, we're all different. Even me being a dude might not work for you, so luckily most of the bloggers out here are ladies...so you have a large pool to choose from.)

      Best of luck.

      Paul

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  5. I loved this post for your thoughtfulness and insight into yourself. Self reflection is just so important and its so wonderful to make the breakthroughs that help us to get off the old hamster wheels of our past and do things differently. Although I am in my 50s, this will be the first Xmas I will spend without my parents - who are both still alive. I have finally decided I will not take their abuse, criticism and nastiness anymore and I am "cancelling" Xmas to spend it quietly with my husband. Sounds ridiculous at my age I know, but this is a huge breakthrough for me! Love hearing from you. Thank you.

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    1. Bravo to you for being so brave! It's takes a huge "set" to do something like that.

      Take care of yourself...you are all you have at the end of every day.

      Sherry

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  6. I get you, and while I wholeheartedly embrace the theory of not knowing what to do with simple pure drama-free enjoyment, I have to chime in and say that , for me, its ALMOST COMPLETELY due to S.A.D. Iv researched and self-checked this issue until clarity shines through. As I look outside this am, I'm greeted with another day of gray, cold, dormant surroundings and what is going to get me through it is simply having the awareness. With the knowledge, I can indulge myself to things that take the edge off, I can step up self care and really ensure I'm not slowly dying and/or in a place of pre-relapse without knowing it. I am acutely aware of this and embrace the fact that I'm in charge of my over all feelings - I can ,, WE can do this and come out on the other side, along with the emerging crocus, having actually lived and not merely endured each grueling day. Oh, and scheduling a trip to MX, or some such destination isn't a bad idea either!!!!!!

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    1. Oooooo....Mexico! Or the Bahamas! Yes!!!

      Three kids in college. No!

      ;-)

      Sherry

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  7. Ah Sherry...I know those feelings all so well. Waiting for that other shoe to drop. It's like we're not worthy of just having a wonderful and joyful existence...there *has* to be something to tell us we're wrong, right? How *dare* we enjoy ourselves? Hmmmm.... so why do i feel that way? Well, as you said, past experience has proven that good times are limited. They come with a PRICE. So, what is different this time?

    I think we are allowed to enjoy this life, Sherry. We screwed up lots of other times, and things are different now. You have so many blessings, and man, who wouldn't want to enjoy them? Like you said, it might go pear shaped at any moment, but so what if it did? Can you handle that? Of course you can. And most likely, things won't blow up in your face. I love the line : half of our minds manufacture bullshit and the other half buys it. I worry about things that almost never happen. And it affects my serenity.

    I like what you said at the end there - enjoy the moment. Stay there. Be kitchy and cliched and just enjoy.

    Loved this, as I totally understand what you're talking about.

    Blessings,
    Paul

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  8. "something bad is bound to happen" - I relate so well to that thought. I used to deliberately drink to actually screw up the good times. My last bender was based on a text message from my wife with the word "celebrate" in it. My head went - but despite this good thing my life is still shite - and boom I was off drinking again to drown my sorrows not celebrate at all.

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  9. Drama and guilt free, loving, supportive, and joyful. Who could want more! As a mother, I know those things take work and determination. I hope you can pat yourself on the back and smile at all you've accomplished :)

    I wish you a holiday season of peace and contentment :)

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