Addiction is a disease of loss, and is especially challenging during the holidays.
A chair at Thanksgiving dinner is empty and there are fewer gifts under the Christmas tree. Naturally, I am often saddened by my circumstances I neither wanted nor anticipated. It is difficult and painful for me to think about how alone I am, without my son or a husband. It becomes increasingly difficult during the holidays, when families are gathering together to celebrate the season with their loved ones.
What I have lost is mainly an illusion of what I thought my life would be. I have stopped believing life is fair or unfair, good or bad. I believe life is about the choices I make. I can choose to honor my needs and feelings, allowing myself to feel sad about the losses I’ve endured, as long as I don’t disconnect from everyone in the process of wallowing in my sorrow. The trouble is when I am sad I don’t feel like interacting with people or even getting out of bed. I want to sleep until I can wake up to a less harsh reality.
At the same time, I know this melancholy will eventually pass and isolating myself makes me feel worse. What I’ve come to realize is that I can be sad and not cancel my plans or withdraw from the human race. I don’t have to be “up” all of the time. I can say to people “I am not at my best today”, and still honor my commitments I’ve made to others. This makes me feel better about myself and allows me to lean on others for support and receive their love.
Even in the midst of sadness, I can salvage the holidays and celebrate them in a way which honors my new normal. It’s in my authenticity that I learn to balance my emotions. I don’t have to be alone to be sad or be sad alone.
I can create the holiday season I want by making choices to stay in the moment, put the past aside, and express my honest feelings and thoughts. I don’t have to do things the way I used to. Life is forever changing, especially for me. I need to focus on gratitude, my spiritual life, and count my many blessings. Those elaborate Christmas gifts, which used to be so important to me, no longer matter as much.
What matters is showing up for those I love in an open and honest way, whether I am happy or sad.
Mary Cucarola, November 2015