For several years there was no obvious sign of Christmas in the place I lived. Little feeling for the holidays was within me either. My emotions were mostly variances in the range of anguish to numbness. Such is the way of healing.
Recovering from grief, heartache and dysfunction is a slow process and requires the time it takes. No more. No less. There is no shortcut.
Last Christmas there began a subdued little glow of Christmas within me. I bought a little artificial tree and decorated it. For the first time in years I began to find some delight for the holidays.
Now just twelve months later it feels as though many multiples of that period have come and gone. In the passing of a single year my true recovery from depression has taken frim deep root and life is good; the best ever. My education includes the knowledge there is no easy way to mend, except to live one day at a time, one step at a time.
I kept my feet on a path forward even when sometimes that meant learning the lessons taught by two steps forward and one back. I made mistakes, but did my best to extract wisdom from each one. I kept going, even when collapsing into sorrow was appealing. I did the work that recovery requires and sought out support of a peer when I was discouraged. I faced my demons, destroyed few, but diminished the power of all of them. I made good choices and gave myself credit for them.
I stopped the constant question “what am I going to do” and made a commitment to settle down in the city I already lived in. I bought a house and began to live in a real home for the first time in almost five years. I recommitted myself to the good job I already had and discovered I was better at it than ever. I met someone special and freed my heart to fal in love. I made new dear friendships and my relationship with three old friends got deeper.
A full range of feeling came back and I allowed myself to experience them even when it was arduous. Despair has largely been left behind me and in its space peace has found me. I know true happiness and have immense gratitude.
In the kitchen this morning pouring my second cup of coffee I looked toward the den and saw the view included at the top. It was striking and touching to the point of watery eyes as I realized the spirit of Christmas was alive within me and evident in my home. Even now my heart swells in my chest as I look at the photo. Over time developing awareness of the goodness in my life and gratitude for it has been a substantial portion of the cure for what ailed me.
In the photo:
First that jumps out to me is the sparkling little Christmas tree. It is the same modest one from last year and is now known as “the little tree that could” bring Christmas joy back to James’s life.
I see the gifts for friends beneath the tree I can’t wait to share with them. Other gifts were wrapped and shipped to friends and family earlier enough this year that the packages will reach their destinations in time for Christmas.
I live in a real home now that reflects back to me the warmth of an authentic person. I don’t feel the need to pretend any longer and I like me… I really like me (well, most of the time).
On the walls is black and white photography I love. In some frames is my work and others contain images by photographers I respect.
Old clocks are part of the landscape of my home as is the collection of ornamental glass on the sofa table. I love how the ticking of the clocks and the reflections of the glass bring life to a room.
A forty-year old Marantz amp/tuner brings me lots of pleasure especially when the music is coming from an LP playing on the turntable.
Almost out of range visually in the left of the image, but never out of my mind are photos of my son. No father has ever loved a son more nor been prouder of one.
There are flowers on the hearth in front of the fireplace. While a seemingly decadent luxury to some, there always are fresh flowers in my home. There is never too much beauty in anyone’s life.
In a big green glass jar under the end table is a collection of matchbooks that span not only my life but some of my father’s time when phone numbers were something like “Delaware 3-2468”.
In the center of the image is a framed photo of a couple. It was taken a few months ago on a cell phone by a friend of the woman I love and me at a restaurant.
The couch on the left of the photo is the one she and I have made out on many times. My Sweetie says we should always keep it for sentimental reasons. I agree.
Too small to be focused on just to the right of the fireplace on the hearth are three rocks with words on them. One rock says “God is love” on it. My friend and fellow Codependence Anonymous member Doug gave me (thanks Dude!). There are two others both given to me by my ex-wife after we had gone our separate ways. One has “Hope” carved into it and was the spirit she wished for me at one of my birthdays. And the most important rock she also gave me has “Peace” inscribed upon it. For the eight years we were together when she asked what I wanted most in life I would reply “peace”. Several years ago during one of the last times we spent several hours together she gave me the “peace rock” saying she wished “peace” for me with all her heart. Life has moved on. She has remarried. We are only part of each other’s past. Today I know the comfort of a good measure of “peace” and owe her thanks for helping me move in its direction.
God is love. Hope. Peace. I am exceedingly grateful to have the gift of these three blessings profoundly alive in my life. And those things are my Christmas wish for one and all.
Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect. Oren Arnold