A Believer Once More
I used to dread the holiday season. Drinking celebrations took place at the same time as endless shopping, bounced checks, and expectations. The material world was synonymous with love. For one day out of every year, all the neighborhood loved to see our living room strewn with packages from the Christmas tree to the front door.
My fear of not having enough “stuff” was equal to the alcoholic’s fear of not having enough booze. Last minute shopping and drinking did not spell alcoholism to me, so I did not have a clue that the insanity of the disease was in full bloom throughout this special season. I was totally focused on my claim that HE was the problem. If he would just cut back on drinking, I thought everything else would be well worth the effort.
Back then, procrastination was my middle name, control was my maiden name, and anxiety was my married name. When my husband gave me a toaster for Christmas, I waited for his birthday to come so I could give him a cover for his toaster. That was the year when we hit rock bottom physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially. Through the grace of God and Al-Anon, we received the gift of desperation in our lives. We all looked happy back then. We looked fine on the outside and were dying on the inside. I was so sick back then that I did not even know my children were affected by this insidious disease.
Today I like to say, “I’m Susan and I’m a problem.” Today such a feeling of peace and serenity has replaced that ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach that I feel a need to share my experience, strength, and hope.
I finished my Christmas shopping in the summertime—no crowds, no last minute hurrying, no bills. We give each other, our children, and grandchildren the gifts of laughter, warmth, and understanding—thanks to Al-Anon’s Steps, slogans, and other tools. The gift of acceptance is the greatest gift of all.
The God-manufactured coincidence of this beautiful time of year is huge. I have no other explanation for why my packages are already wrapped and everything was all paid for months ago, or why “Easy Does It” has replaced “more and more.” My sponsor always reminds me that everything is in God’s timing, not mine. I look forward to the excitement of Christmas with the anticipation of a six-year-old. Now that the material side of the holidays is out of the way, I can look for the little miracles that always happen.
The awareness in Step One that, “I’m Susan and I’m a problem,” is a miracle. I can only change myself. In Step Two I realize that nothing wrapped under the tree is as priceless as the gift of being a mother in recovery. Step Three is my gift to me—a huge miracle. Steps Four through eleven let me live in reality instead of a fantasy world—365 days of the year, One Day at a Time.
The holidays do not have to end in December. Step Twelve is the gift of hope that I can give to newcomers who light up my life. I look forward to a newcomers’ meeting every Friday morning. I can only imagine where I would be if Al-Anon members did not treat me as though I was important when I was a newcomer. They made a believer once more out of this grown-up six-year-old.
By Susan C. Massachusetts The Forum, December 1998
Reprinted with permission of The Forum
Al-Anon Family Groups Incorporated, Virginia Beach, VA
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