Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pilgrims and Turkeys

Here we are less than a week away from Thanksgiving. It is a generic holiday with not too much controversy usually associated with other popular celebrations. It is hard to find a human on earth that doesn't enjoy a good satisfying meal.

Before the program I gave tremendous weight to all the holidays. It was my way of pretending that I was happy and that some how if I got every detail right that magically I would become the Hallmark commercial I saw each year or for us here a grocery store commercial that can make any family feel less than perfect.

As I am sure I have mentioned in previous Thanksgiving posts that one year I made everyone dress as pilgrims for the festivities. That's right there were no exception unless you wanted to be an Indian. I was miserable in those days under the thumb of alcoholism and not really knowing that was what it was.

In truth that wasn't the whole story and I can see that now. I have never really known how to be happy and living with alcoholism kept me to busy to think about anything.

That was the last Thanksgiving we put on for friends and family. We split the next year ironically the day after    Thanksgiving. Life dishes out some blows that you think you will never recover from and even today I can see the look on his face when he lowered the boom. He concluded the conversation with "we will never talk about this again" and we didn't. He called the shots and I let me his way or the highway.

There isn't any emotion accompanying that paragraph for me anymore. It did ultimately change my life for the good. It began the unraveling of every truth I was hiding about myself. I was forced to get help because. for once, I couldn't help myself.

It was the beginning of my own recovery and I am thankful that my counselor sent me to Al-Anon where I could see other people just like me. Strong on the outside but totally broken on the inside.

I thought a lot about ending my life in those early days. The pain was so great that I slept every hour I wasn't working. I felt I had died already. The meetings made me forget my pain for one hour. I was lucky to have a sponsor that called me because I never called her back then.

My husband and I had been so dependent on each other the I felt my heart had been severed in half. I thought it was because I loved him so much but it was really because I didn't know who I was without him. He breathed out and I breathed in. He was happy then I was happy. If he was mad then I had to make him happy. This was a full time job for me and made me feel worthy of love. He transferred that dependence to someone else and I  more alone than ever.

He was my everything and I thought that was real love. It was sickness to the core but it consumed me and kept me from dealing with my own feelings of lack. This relationship was my drug of choice it controlled my every thought and I liked only thinking about us.

What I have learned over the past few decades is that the pain I feel is caused by me 100% of the time. If at any time I am unhappy or angry it has nothing to do with another person. If I can hand my happiness over to someone else I can blame it on them when things go wrong. I have to own my life and the way I feel about myself.

In my last relationship for 13 years I was with someone that didn't want an emotional relationship. It was good for a while and helped me to develop my own self worth but it felt too separate and I ended up feeling alone most of the time.

I guess I want to be somewhere in the middle. I did meet someone a few years ago in recovery that reminded me of my husband. I was shocked by how quickly I became obsessed and turned over my power. Luckily this person wasn't available or I would have been down for the count and it would probably be over by now. I was vulnerable from own relationship ending and the attention was intoxicating.

I am happier than I have been in a long time right now. I am grateful that the holidays don't represent to me my emotional health. I am also thankful that I am not dressing up or making anyone else dress up like a pilgrim and that I have gladly left behind the turkeys of my past.


  1. what a read... uplifting, revealing, so much growth, finding sanity... what you write here is pretty much how i lived, how i was. holidays, yay!!!, no need to find excuses to drink, full on everything to show the world my life was 'perfect' when in fact is was falling apart. and better yet, these memories may make me shudder now, but they are also the memories that keep me sober, because i do not EVER want to be there again. lotsa love, V

  2. What a powerful post. You said some things in here that really hit the nail on the head - "strong on the outside but totally broken on the inside", "he breathed out and I breathed in". Beautiful, heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. May you have a wonderful day of gratitude this year. I, for one, am grateful that you continue share your recovery with the rest of us.