There was a time when the holidays were about lights, and candy, and wonder, and anticipation. We were *commanded* to be giddy over the religious overtones of the season. And to keep the codependent peace, we outwardly acquiesced. But in our hearts, it was really the toys and the big fat man – the true lord of childhood – that actually counted.
Time elapsed, and like so many others, I was dismayed and disillusioned to find that our toy lord was just another fairytale sold to us by Corporate America. A mere concoction endorsed by our parents to keep us in line. As the jaded wisdom of youth set in, the holiday season – like so many other occasions – became just another excuse to indulge in debauchery. Dreams and wonder were replaced by drinking and whoring. Just a midweek weekend, snow and good tidings be damned.
These newfound holiday distractions did nothing to “cure” my codependence, but so beguilingly did they cover it up, with quick-release happiness and longer lasting headaches, that I didn’t have to worry about it during the festivities.
And then parenthood soberly came along. But with offspring came a reminder of what the holidays truly could be—should one keep wonder in their heart—even if the dust of adulthood tarnished its shine. Sadly, these new creatures entrusted to me only served to further distract from healing from my codependency. The saddest distraction mind you, as my three deserved a healthy parent, versus one merely “surviving life instead of living it.”
Time again marched on, and as the snow is drawn to the evergreen, I was forced to realize that I too had once again been drawn to a narcissistic partner. Being a perfectionist to boot, I chose the mother of all narcissists (pun only partially intended). One who toiled tirelessly to tear my children from me in a final effort to exercise control, presumably governing the “me” that others believed themselves to see. Had I recognized my codependence earlier on, maybe I would’ve had the tools to stop this eventuality from occurring. Or maybe not. A nagging, pain-filled teeter-totter thought, now 4+ years a boarder in my brain.
But as we’re reminded in Steps 1 and 3, it is not until we recognize that our life is out of control that we can begin to have our Higher Power “take the wheel,” so to speak. And part of this is also acknowledging that the better we are at distracting ourselves from our condition, the harder They must work towards showing us this truth. In my case, my Higher Power had to work double-digits overtime in order to provide this blessing.
I found myself stripped bare, fully ostracized by a life that I had worked so hard to construct and control. But I now know this had to occur in order to show me that what I was building was a codependent house of cards, while all along my God had planned for me a mansion.
In short, it took the loss of everything – of life itself – to show me that I’d never been living it to the potential it deserved. I’d spent 40-some years re-gifting my life to damned near anyone else who would take it from me, regardless of their care for it afterwards.
Through CoDA, I am now on the road to recovery. Just typing those words causes my soul to gasp, as it’s something I never thought I would do for myself. Something I never believed I deserved. It’s a present long overdue, and one that requires meticulous and self-care-filled unwrapping in order to discover its true worth.
“Seasonal depression” is far too generous a term to describe what those of us who suffer from it actually labor through. And I still struggle with the holiday season: with the knowledge that it will never again be one that sees me gushing over my children’s joy. One that will never again find me living it’s bliss through others or through distractions.
But through my recovery process, I am finally able to once again feel the wonder and the anticipation of the season. Anticipation of a continuing relationship with both my Higher Power and my authentic self. One where I can finally embrace the coming of a new, light-filled life ahead.
One that has been planned for me to celebrate in all along.