I have always loved this time of year. I love the Christmas movies, the music, shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping gifts you name it. Maybe it is because growing up I always remember Christmas being about family and giving. I learned early on the meaning of giving in every sense of the word. When my husband and I got together I got to bring my touch on the holidays into our home. You see the holidays and birthdays to me meant you celebrate BIG! Birthday parties were always decorated, lots of presents, cake, games, many people and Christmas is the same way.
This time of year also seems to bring with it a great increase in depression. I know my husband being an alcoholic this time of year definitely brought out the selfishness of the disease even more. My husband would buy his couple “special gifts” on Christmas Eve mainly or at least within those last two days before Christmas. What I always assumed but didn’t know for sure was he was always gone for long periods of time and what I know now is that it was because in his words “he wouldn’t be held accountable for his time because after all he was Christmas shopping” but a majority of that time he was isolating himself and going to bars to drink. In our home I did all the shopping, the gift wrapping, the cooking, the cleaning, put together all the parties, etc. My husband was never really interested in being a part of those things, although I always asked him. I mean over the past 14 1/2 years there have been times he has wrapped a few gifts, or helped cook a prime rib, put up the yard decorations and lights on the house, but his heart wasn’t really in it. The first few years it seemed like he was more present in our lives but as the disease of alcoholism started to progress and get a stronger hold of him he started to get lost in the bottle.
So that is how the holiday season went I would spend my birthday alone, New Years Eve alone, and at times part of Christmas Day. So over the years I have built up this anxiety every time this time of year starts to roll in because it always meant terrible heartache for me. No day is an easy day with an alcoholic or addict. Some are worse than others but you learn how to navigate around that and try and make peace within your life and those around you. You learn how to put on a smile even when your crying inside.
Today though my husband has a little over two years of sobriety. This will be our second Christmas where he is completely present in our lives. The kids are all grown and moved out with lives of their own now. I know that because he has been sober only a few years the guilt and pain from missing so much life with the kids is creating some heartache for him. All we can do is move forward and make new memories. To make amends with the past and accept what was, grieve it then release it from you heart and realize it isn’t what life is like now. Even though you wish you could get time back we can’t, all we can do right now in this moment is to be grateful for all we get to be a part of now. To be present for all the gifts in your life and nothing in your life worth value has a price tag believe me.
On that note though, how much joy does it bring to you to see someone you love open up a gift and their eyes light up or tears well up in their eyes because of something you gave them that came from the heart. People are so busy running around spending more and more money on gifts that will never have any meaning. What I mean by that is when you buy gifts out of guilt instead of pleasure it has no value. Let me share a little story with you all about last Christmas. A little back round first to paint the picture………my husband and I separated the end of summer of “2013” after years of the alcoholism beating me up emotionally it had finally taken it’s toll on our marriage and family. It had my husband in such a death grip that there wasn’t a way out for him until a miracle happened he was arrested for a DUI, best gift ever!
Although my husband had ten months of sobriety life was worse than ever for us and then to top it all off he was unfaithful. Life crashed all around us, this was it alcohol had ripped apart and destroyed another family, another marriage. However, I had a few last thoughts for the evil alcoholism and my spiritual awakening would give me the strength I needed to crush that disease and face it head on and not give up on my husband. I was determined to save our marriage. That was in September of “2013” and by December of that same year a few months later my husband and I were back together working hard on rebuilding our marriage and closer than we have ever been. Christmas Eve our daughter stayed the night with us in her old room. We got up opened gifts it was wonderful because of the strain that our family had been put under. His alcoholism especially effected our daughter the most and it warmed my heart to see her able to try and rebuild a relationship with her dad.
After she left we decided to open our gifts to each other before we went to my mom’s house. There was a little box my husband gave to me and said “open it” inside there was a ring it was beautiful with white diamonds twisted with black. He said I thought if you wanted to switch out your old wedding ring with it sometimes you could” I guess I appeared sad. My husband asked what was wrong I said “Nothing is wrong, it’s beautiful but my wedding ring came with “I Do” this ring doesn’t have that same meaning and I don’t feel comfortable switching my ring on and off”. Everything was good, I told him I was going to get ready we had a lot of stops to make that day.
There I am getting ready in the bathroom and he knocks on the door and said “why is the door locked” I thought that’s silly it isn’t locked and as I opened it to tell him that he was down on one knee with our little dog next to him with the ring opened in a box and he said “we wanted to know if you will marry us again”! I jumped in his lap and the tears of joy just flowed. When I asked him why he didn’t ask when he gave me the ring he said he needed to be reminded of what is most important. In June of “2014” we renewed our Wedding Vows and what a spectacular day we had! The moral of my story is this………for years I had suggested a few times renewing our wedding vows. Of course at that time he was an actively binge drinking and I was just trying to find ways to feel closer and make our marriage better but at that time it wouldn’t have mattered and he was never interested in that thought anyway. I never gave up on my husband, from the first day I saw him my heart knew he was where I belonged, he was my forever and always. It is safe to say we have been through Hell together and we are so blessed to have made it out the other side of alcoholism together and stronger for it! Not everyone makes it out of alcoholism together or even alive.
Today if you find yourself feeling blue, look for the positive things in your life, reach for the positive people. Be grateful for all you have been given in your life including the ability to face your addiction head on because being sober is the best gift my husband can give to himself and to those he loves. This is the second year my husband has given me the gift of his sobriety coin. Now I have the first one year coin and now number two in a frame and to me that is the most touching gift he can give to me because behind that coin I know he is sober. I know he is working his program and he is working hard to make a new beautiful life for us to enjoy together. I know today that my husband loves me and I know he is present in our life together every single day to feel the good and the bad and that is amazing.
This season we drove around and looked at Christmas lights together, we have wrapped gifts together, we even went Christmas shopping together. I looked at my husband the other night and I said ‘Honey, you have no idea what it means to me that your helping me wrap gifts, we went shopping, we decorated, I said you were never really here and even when you were here I was alone” I said I don’t feel alone anymore thank you for being a part of this with me. Even if he did those things just for me he is showing me that our life and being happy together is most important. Yesterday I asked my husband what is most significant and different to him from the holidays when he was drinking and now that he isn’t. He said “what’s most important is that my wife is happy”! Today I feel like it really matters to him if I am happy.
Hope is a big part of my belief no matter how bad things get never lose it. The small things in life are stepping stones to living a life of gratitude not attitude. Example, if your roof leaks be grateful you have a roof. Sometimes it is the small positive notes to take a hold of because I always say if you can’t be grateful for what you do have in your life no matter how small or big then you will never know how to appreciate when life gives you more you will always have a sense of greed. I ask you all to pay it forward in your life no matter what that means to you. If you have been waiting to apologize to someone don’t wait, if you need to shower your spouse with more love do it don’t wait, we never get a moment back don’t say “I’m waiting for the right moment” because that moment is right now no matter what.
Today I am making Christmas cookies and we are going to hand them out to the homeless people in our town. Just because I want to spread Christmas cheer to someone who may be feeling blue today, sometimes just a simple smile will save someone’s life. You may never know the impact you make on ones life but they will. So always strive to give more than you get, be patient, be understanding, give compassion and empathy for one day we all need it. Go to bed every night being able to say “I haven’t hurt anyone today” “I have helped where I could” I have been kind and loving to my loved ones”! The footprints you leave now can imprint on those after you. Have a blessed day!!!
Wishing you Peace & Serenity………..Merry Christmas to everyone!!! Harmony………