To parents of children in the throes of battling, or not battling addiction, this time of the year is not always so wonderful. The Season brings with it a contradiction of emotions often difficult to endure. Even those who perceive their Higher Power as a Universal presence and may not celebrate the traditional festivals cannot help being sucked into The Season by the ubiquitous holiday music, menorah and advent wreaths, holiday television, red-greeen and the anthropomorphized cloven-hoofed animals with an inexplicable knack for flying. The Season can be hard for us.
[On a personal note, this week marks the 6th anniversary of when we sent our boy who brought me to this journey to the High Desert of Utah for his first treatment, our first attempt at fixing his addiction.]
The joyousness of The Season is tempered by the realization that our babies, whether with us or not, are truly NOT home for the holidays. They are not really present, nor do they wish to be. The addiction will see to that.
The Season brings with it many potential detours from our journeys. Whether we celebrate a birth, or a revolt, temple rededication and a miracle of oil and light, or even avoid any religious connection during this late November through December time, it is the first Season as parents of addicts when we will wander into almost every side path and allow every distraction to divert us from our journeys. It's ok - this first time. It's natural and to be expected. We simply yearn for those holidays when wonder and joy filled our households and anticipation warmed our hearts. The first year, we need to be gentle with ourselves. We may or not be ready to react any differently.
Those side tracts (sic) we wander into are fear, sadness, shame, blame and most dangerous of all, a gloomy expanse called "let's pretend everything is alright," a don't-feel zone of self pity. The Season will tempt us to revert, to go back to old ways. We're just pretending for a while, for a few weeks. Beginning with Thanksgiving through the end of the year The Season poignantly reminds us of everything we've lost.
We wallow in it, the loss, amid the carols, lights, feasting and festing. We are once again pulled into addiction's vortex with our children. We truly believe he will show at family events, that she will wonder at the joys and messages of The Season.
We expect The Season to materialized as if addiction had not taken our children from us.
Each year we emerge from our detours. We are exhausted, the remnants of whatever dark forest, swamp or desert we wandered into cling to us as a reminder of that first misstep that diverted us from our journey.
Each year we learn. The Season remains a difficult time for certain but we eventually learn, somehow, to stay our course, keep our expectations low and love our children while dismissing the addiction.
For us, The Season invites tension, longing and disappointment to our homes. Our children who brought us to this journey may show up late to family gatherings or not show up at all. If he does show, he may not be present. We become prepared for the contrary and negative spin addiction forces upon our children. The addiction will attempt to make her presence during the holidays a contradiction to the joy and love we are bringing to our homes not just during the holidays but throughout the year.
But we learn eventually to not let this happen. We stop reacting. We relish our children's being no matter what form it may take. If they are not physically with us, they are present in our souls and we remember where there is life there is hope. We observe The Season our own way as parents of addicted children, each year improving our observations. We look around, actively distinguishing between what is real and what is blurred by our fear and sadness. Instead of wishing for what once was, we cherish the NOW and anticipate the joy that awaits us when we embark again on our recovery journeys.
The Season with its rushing, hustling and bustling, the last-minute this and that. over scheduling and overindulgence will eventually allow us to sneak away, sit back, BREATHE, observe and recollect what we have accomplished the past year. From Thanksgiving through New Years we are given many opportunities to shut out the maelstrom of The Season and reflect on where our journeys have brought us and anticipate where we are destined to travel.
Like a world-class athlete who can eliminate all distractions to focus on the moment we are able to see only The Good and eliminate the doubt addiction will attempt to bring to our journey. We can accept the sadness of The Season, take it in, then give it up to The Universe, our Higher Power to bear. We will no longer allow The Season to unnecessarily detour us from the progress of our recovery. We come to believe that whatever spiritual pathway we traverse, this truth and an ever-present partner will carry us through The Season.
Season's Greetings to all, and to all a good journey!
"If you believe in this spirit thing the miracle will happen and you'll want it to happen again tomorrow. … It can happen every day … you've just got to want that feeling. And if you like it, and you want it you'll get greedy for it .. you'll want it every day of your life, and it can happen to you. I believe it now. … It's great. It's a good feeling. It's better than I've felt in a long time. I'm ready. ~ Bill Murray as Frank Cross in "Scrooged"