This is going to be one of those 'life' posts where I throw in a little art at the end just so I can justify talking about life on an artsy blog.
When I was 8 years old, my father was killed in a fire on Christmas Eve.
That pretty much took care of the Christmas Spirit for me - I have not been a fan of this holiday since then. I fake it yearly, and some years I don't even fake it WELL. I tend to become whiny and bitchy - bah humbug to the max. I feel sorry for myself and wallow in self-pity. Toss in years of alcoholism, and you pretty much have an idea of what my Christmas's were like.
From the years of 8 until 20, I was under my mother's roof and did what she requested of me on Christmas. Wasn't the happiest of times for her either, and she shared her birthday with Christmas Day. But we'd visit relatives and friends, have company...
The moment I got married, and moved into my own home, I decreed that I would not leave my house on December 25th. My family and my in-laws came to US. It became our norm. It also allowed me to start drinking in the morning, without having to worry about getting somewhere other than my couch.
For 35 years I did not step into a vehicle, or leave the general vicinity of my home on Christmas Day. My friends knew that if invited to their homes, I wouldn't come. The exception to this was walking next door to our neighbor's home for drinks and prezzies. With my house in my line of sight, I was fine with that.
I cannot totally explain WHY I couldn't leave, and by the end of the 35 years it was certainly a COULDN'T not a wouldn't. It owned me. I think deep down I felt that if I left, I wouldn't come back. My father didn't come back.
Sobriety didn't change this obsession with staying home.
This year I wanted, truly WANTED to change my attitude toward this holiday. I was coasting on a cloud of serenity for weeks prior. The hurricane, its devastating aftermath... the horrific shooting in Connecticut, both played a part in giving me a wake-up call. That others had it so much worse than I did. That if I stepped back and looked at my life, what was there to complain about? Absolutely nothing.
And I rode that serenity cloud into December 25th. Which was a Tuesday this year. My favorite AA meeting is my Tuesday night meeting. This is my home group, and just a magical meeting. And they were having the meeting... which I normally never would have considered attending on this day of 'never leaving my house'.
But the thought was in my head all day long - and by evening when my family left I knew I needed to be at this meeting. My soul was calling out for it - and I knew the only way to shut it up was to give it what it needed.
Without a thought I ran a brush through my hair, pulled on my boots and coat... mittens... grabbed my purse and keys and walked outside my house. And about halfway down the sidewalk, the shakes started. I almost dropped my keys, that's how hard my hands were shaking. I was starting to gulp air... and about the time I opened my car door, I was in a full blown panic attack. I sat in my car, started it up... and said hello to the first attack I'd had in months... I acknowledged it, I accepted it, and I ignored it.
The enormity of what I had just done slammed into me like a mack truck. I left the house. I left my street. I couldn't see my house anymore. I shook. I vibrated. I hyperventilated.
I walked into that beloved church basement, looked at the few people that were there, people that I love and trust with all my heart... and the shakes stopped. I shared that evening about what I did, about breaking 35 years of chains. There were tears from some of my friends as I spoke, but I didn't cry.
I didn't cry until I got back in my car at the end of the hour. I proceeded to cry and shake my way home. Relief? Fear? Who knows.
But I made it home. I didn't fail to come back. I came back home. Those chains don't own me anymore.
and here. Here's a snowman I made for my sister-in-law. ;-)