Dec 16: Christmas, and gratitude versus expectations/rights

Christmas, and gratitude versus expectations/rights

I rarely drank over Christmas when I was a drinking alcoholic. Only once and that was a horrible time, needless to say. I made myself and my family miserable. I was a binge drinker so staying away from alcohol over the holidays wasn’t difficult for me, as I had grown up with fabulous memories of Christmas as a child, and then into my adult drinking life. It was a magical time of year– I’d whizz through the house until it was sparkling clean, every corner, don’t you know.. presents wrapped, visits made, and all very much centred around our son. It seemed like Christmas was the magical oasis in a year where the other 360 or so days were full of pain and chaos as a result of my alcoholism. Even when my husband and I split up {I got sober a year or so after we split up), it was still good, as my son would spend Christmas Day with his dad and Boxing Day became another Christmas Day for him with me. The spiritual significance of Christmas I felt to some extent too.

I celebrated 36 years of sobriety just last Tuesday. I’m so very grateful for that. I got sober upon turning 30 years of age, two weeks before Christmas… And I look forward to the season and celebrations every year since. That’s apart from the Christmas many years ago now when my young nephew was killed in a car crash. Christmas didn’t happen. But ever after, he became part of what made Christmas special. His memory very much is part of it in a good way.

The past two Christmases have not been so good– one involved an early stage breast cancer diagnosis the week before Christmas (cancer-free now and healthy). And last year, I spent Christmas alone (mostly by choice). Now, I normally live quite a social and busy life but I deeply value my time spent alone so I thought being alone at Christmas would be okay for me– it wasn’t! Maybe another year it might have been but there’d been a death in Oct (my ex) and then an ex-in law took her own life as well just three weeks later. Both my sons were affected deeply by all of this.. and for various reasons we couldn’t spend Christmas together (one lives in Peru, the other had to work).

Being alone over the holidays can be the most peaceful for some of you– you have shared that with me. And I thought that I would handle it well and actually enjoy relaxing and not having to be running around looking after others. But I drifted into self pity, resentment and, yes, sadness. I found out that me alone at Christmas didn’t work — not that year anyway–so this year I’d thought about helping out at a homeless shelter or somewhere like that but as it turns out I won’t be.

This year my son will be coming over again and we’re both very much looking forward to that. On Monday my grandson will be coming up for a few days. I’m excited about seeing both of them (haven’t since August). But I also know that as an alcoholic I can build pictures in my mind of how it should be . . .! Yes, expectations. And when I expect things to be a certain way, I often get a rude awakening!

If I stay grateful each 24-hr period I am given, living in the day and doing the next right thing, doing what I can to prepare but handing over the results to my Higher Power, then I’m on a winner! I can remain serene, and know that God is in charge of the whole caboodle. A few lines from Acceptance is the Answer in our Big Book tell me about expectations, and also ‘rights’. How many times did this scenario run through my head…. ‘but I deserve better than this… surely at my time in sobriety I should not be experiencing them not doing as I would like them to…’ LOL … :

My serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of[ …. ] other people, the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. But then my “rights” try to move in, and they too can force my serenity level down. I have to discard my “rights,” as well as my expectations, by asking myself, How important is it, really? How important is it compared to my serenity, my emotional sobriety? And when I place more value on my serenity and sobriety than on anything else, I can maintain them at a higher level–at least for the time being. Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do. Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and I leave the results up to Him; however it turns out, that’s God’s will for me. I must keep my magic magnifying mind on my acceptance and off my expectations, for my serenity is directly proportional to my level of acceptance.

I realise that some of you reading this may not celebrate Christmas. Please share on expectations / gratitude about any day, holiday season or not. Do you have another holiday / season which figures big for you? And does the season impact on you whether you celebrate it or not?

Do you spend Christmas alone or with others? What are your suggestions, things that work for you, that you might pass on to others?

When I live in gratitude, I experience a peace that passes all understanding… no matter what is going on in my life. Share your gratitude list if you like!

Love and hugs, Louise