This is a really tough time of the year for me, at least in 2011. I am 1000 miles away from my family, and while other people are celebrating, I feel like curling up in a corner and weeping. Loneliness is a terrible feeling, and one of the more threatening emotions for me when it comes to maintaining my recovery.
The past four years I celebrated with my ex-wife’s family, and was always welcomed with open arms. That is gone now, and I know it is my actions that caused the split. I always remember thinking as my wife frantically bought gifts for everyone, why Christmas was all about getting worthy enough gifts for everyone. One time, she forgot to buy something for an aunt, and the 60+yr-old was angry she was forgotten. Seriously? An adult upset that a basket of fruit or a gift card was not sent to her house?
We all are a product of our families and the values that are instilled directly or subtly remain with us. If we become aware of them, and don’t like one, we can seek to change that behavior or attitude. Too often though, it becomes second nature. For me, and why the holidays are extremely tough this year, it was about sharing time with those closest to me. Having a large gathering of family, eating a holiday meal and just catching up with aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins, it was never about material stuff.
Today, Christmas Eve 2011, I am fighting my brain to remember what is really important, that distance does not separate love and kind thoughts. I have my wonderful German Shepherd, who can always make me smile and remind me of the simple joys of life. For him, it is getting an ice cube to play with, how he smiles (yes, my dog smiles, at least in my mind he does) and pounces on the cube, slamming it on the ground to break it up into pieces so he can eat it. It is taking a walk, and finding a coconut to carry on the journey.
I am not religious, but I am a spiritual person, and I know God is with me, and that doing the right things on a daily basis will lead me to the place I am supposed to be. In many ways, I am a walking miracle, so blessed to be alive, when so many others i have met have overdosed and not been brought back. I am thankful to have life still flowing in me, and to have met so many wonderful people that offer kind words to me, “thank yous” and “thinking about yous” that evoke a joy no watch or knick knack can.
I have a place to stay, and have plans in the works to hopefully move on to something even bigger, that can do a lot of good for people. My housing status is so uncertain, and that is truly wearing, but I hold on with faith, and try not to be scared, continuing to just do something positive every day for myself and someone else.
I have had a lot of money in the past, and have $3 in my checking account today. Happiness is not about bank accounts, it is about having a purpose that involves helping humanity. As long as I have food, shelter and love, nothing else matters. It is a struggle, some days I am weak and sad, others happy and peaceful. I am thankful for all of my days though.
So, when it comes to Holiday Cheer, I hope we can all remember that what’s important is simple, sharing love. Doing something nice for a stranger, or just reading a blog and showing support. Listening to a friend, a hug, feeding the homeless, there are so many different ways that really produce happiness within. I am grateful for all the things I have, that I live in a country of freedom, where I don’t have to worry about bombs going off in my neighborhood, or droughts producing widespread famine. I am lucky. I am thankful.