Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Don't Be Afraid

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's -- not easy days for this alcoholic. 'Tis the season for resentment, regret, self-pity, anxiety. And fear. Lots of fear. 'Tis the season for relapse.

Two years ago this week, between Christmas and New Year, I started my last relapse. Today, two of my best friends from sober living, both junkies, are barely hanging on, skittering toward homelessness and jail since they started getting loaded again after Thanksgiving. Scary stuff.

My son went with his mom out of town for Christmas, so I was by myself. Alone, broke, seeing the decorated houses and the ads on TV that demonstrate clearly that everyone else in the world is spending a joyful Christmas with extended family and giving each other expensive gifts. Me, I had wrapped up desperately needed new clothes for my son as his gifts, along with some cheap toys and books. This is not a Norman Rockwell painting. My material and family circumstances are no better, even worse in some ways, than last year and the year before.

And yet...

It felt different this year. Something really has changed. Slowly, inch by inch, recognizable only at mileposts like this and looking back a year or two, something has changed. Every day is a good day. Some days I have a bad attitude -- resentful, regretful, self-pitying, fearful. At some point in the last couple years, I've come to accept that the problem is not with the world, not even something wrong with me, but with what I think and feel about the world and myself.

One tangible difference this year is that I went to church on Christmas Eve. Going to church is part of my routine now, and there is nothing more natural than spending part of Christmas with my friends I worship with.

What I came away from the service with was what the angel said to the shepherds: “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy." My fear melted away, my resentments and self-pity turned to gratitude. For Christians and non-Christians alike, there is no question that the message of Alcoholics Anonymous is good news of great joy. When we hear this good news, we can be, just for today, joyful and hopeful, without fear. I don't have to relapse today. I can let my thoughts and feelings get out of the way, and accept that today is a good day.

9 Comments:

At 12/27/2006 04:39:00 PM, Blogger Trudging said...

I am glad that you had a good Christmas. Happy New Year!

 
At 12/27/2006 07:27:00 PM, Blogger dAAve said...

As always, good to hear from you today. Another Christmas present for us all.
You sound good. Keep the faith baby and things will just get better.

 
At 12/28/2006 11:21:00 AM, Anonymous Pigeon said...

Hi, I found your blog while searching for recovery blogs. I have started a new blog, primarily about the NA fellowship, and I wanted to invite you to look in some time.

Don't forget, the crap you see on tv is crafted to give an idealized picture of society, and everybody had a lonely or bad holiday at some point.

Thanks,
Pigeon

 
At 12/28/2006 11:24:00 AM, Anonymous pigeon said...

Oops
heres my page:
www.pigeonhole.wordpress.com

 
At 1/02/2007 09:22:00 PM, Blogger Designer Girl said...

Amen, Phil. Preach it, brother!

Soooo good to see you posting, and that you're doing well (despite crappy circumstances). Hang in there. It has to get better. Eventually.

 
At 3/23/2007 02:45:00 AM, Anonymous Alcohol Rehabilitation said...

Hey, Phil! Your story really touched me in a way that I almost felt my eyes swell up with tears. Whatever type of alcohol rehabilitation you're in, it's good to hear that you're holding on to that faith. Accept the things that you cannot change and continue believing in yourself. That's how you'll achieve great success in alcohol rehabilitation. I'd love to read more about your progress. God bless!

-pia

 
At 3/30/2007 02:02:00 AM, Anonymous Alcohol Rehab said...

I am glad you are okay now. Anyway, relapse seems to be a very common thing right now. Actually, I have heard stories of ex-alcoholics who went back to drinking months after their stay in alcohol rehabs. Now, I am glad you overpowered your cravings. Keep it up!

--Denise

 
At 3/30/2007 04:12:00 AM, Anonymous alcohol rehab said...

I am glad you are okay now. Anyway, relapse seems to be a very common thing right now. Actually, I have heard stories of ex-alcoholics who went back to drinking months after their stay in alcohol rehabs. Now, I am glad you overpowered your cravings. Keep it up!

--Denise

 
At 4/09/2008 09:54:00 PM, Anonymous Jasmine said...

Phil, I don't know if you see these comments anymore...but I just wanted to tell you how very much this entry touched me reading it tonight, more than two years after you wrote it. I sit here teared up with sadness for how it was, and for now how so, so grateful I am for so many things. Your 2004 holiday season was so much like my 2007. I was drinking and alone in some nasty hotel room feeling self-loathing and self-pity and had no hope of ever being worthy, much less happy again. Seeing those commercials again and again...I am beginning to think our lives are parallel, only I'm about 3 years behind you. I WANT what you have.

You know how I feel about you,

K

 

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