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November 27, 2010

The Holidays One Day At A Time

The first couple of years after my son died from addiction I approached the holiday season with a debilitating mix of grief and fear.  The grief I expected because the loss of a child is considered, with good reason, the worst loss.  At times it was overwhelming...at others incapacitating...often it was unexpected but in the end I could always count on it being relentless.

The fear however I did not expect and for a while it puzzled me until I realized one day that the things I feared the most were my own memories.  Memories of what had been and what I had lost and would not have again.  Memories that once had been good seem to torture me the most while the bad memories  simply filled me with hatred.  And then there were of course the magical thinking memories that perhaps if I had done this or that I could have somehow prevented David's death or at least been there for him or my wife or my other son in a way that would ameliorate their suffering in some small way.

But I was most afraid of what those memories would do to me, the dark places they might take me and from whence I may not return.  A verital dungeon of memories whose bars were self-pity and denial made stronger by the alcohol and prescription drugs I self medicated with in a vain attempt to escape their clutches.  

But today, and for some years now, the holiday season no longer fills me with sadness and dread. I experience the joy and hope that the season was always meant to convey in large measure as a result of my recovery from my own disease of addiction. A recovery ancohored firmly in 12 step meetings and the fellowship that surround them.  I have learned from a wonderful sponsor, my friends in the rooms and most of all a beautiful and incredibly supportive wife (who works her own recovery program) that their is no escape from grief and fear...that it must be faced, recognized, understood and eventually embraced.  And by doing so acceptance and forgiveness can reign again where once there was only desolation. 

I have also learned that by embracing my fear and grief it has become a part of my soul where hope and joy also reside.  In my recovery today I know what I lost and the price I paid for it...but today I will not let it take a piece of my soul from me the way it did in the beginning.  Today it is a part of me and I am a stronger, kinder and more loving person because of it...now and forever....one day at a time.

November 27, 2010 at 01:24 PM | Permalink


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