By Kathleen Guthrie Woods
I really thought I was healed, or at least was very close. I had mostly released what I felt I’d been cheated out of and was actively embracing a Plan B. I felt like a trailblazer, a role model, a success story.
Oh, how the mighty fall.
It was late on a gloomy, wintry afternoon when I came across a photo on Facebook of a dear friend, her wonderful husband, and their two beautiful children decorating their Christmas tree together. Something I will never get to do. One look at that image of perfection—my idea of perfection—and I lost it.
We’re talking throwing-family-heirloom-ornaments-in-the-trash kind of lost it. All the anger, bitterness, hurt, shame, heartaches, sadness, unfairness, why-not-me-ness I thought I’d worked out of my system came down upon me like a devastating avalanche. It was epic. It was ugly.
Fortunately, I got talked back out of my hell-hole by an understanding husband and compassionate friend. The tossed ornaments were retrieved, my body was hugged, my spirit was soothed. (But, no, I was not able to bring myself to decorate my home for merriment I could not fake.)
Humbled, and more than a little embarrassed, I took a fresh look at myself and again was reminded that the whole grieving-to-healing journey is not as straightforward as traveling from A to B. It’s crooked, jagged, with obstacles, speed bumps, and small triumphs followed cruel “family” holidays. Recovery is a process.
My friends who have battled alcohol addiction know quite a bit about what it means to be in recovery, and I think we can benefit from their wisdom and experience. When the temptation to slide back down into the deep, dark holes of depression and despair grows strong, when our resolve is weakened, when recovery seems like too much work or unachievable, we can borrow some of their slogans and tell ourselves:
Keep it simple.
Easy does it.
First things first.
Just for today.
How important is it?
Keep an open mind.
Live and let live.
Let go and let God.
One day at a time.
I now keep these reminders on my desktop, within reach for when I need a boost or in case I feel a new meltdown coming on. Perhaps one of them will help you today.
During the holiday season, Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a little less at peace with her child-less status.