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For many, Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year. It means time with family and holiday tradition. For others, it is time spent alone, getting through a difficult loss or depression. In fact, many of us are just trying to make it through.

Before I got sober, Christmas was the time I looked at other families and wished I could have what they had. That feeling of ease and comfort seemed so natural for everyone else. Even in a room full of people, I felt alone. Like I didn’t quite belong. Some of that changed in 1982 when I finally surrendered and sought help for my drug addiction, but navigating this world sober brought other difficulties.

Somewhere along the way, I learned I have social anxiety that can be debilitating. The first time it became apparent to me was in 1995 at 13 years sober. In the middle of Best Buy while doing my Christmas shopping, I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breathe. Feeling dizzy, I abandoned my nearly full shopping cart and went home empty handed. It hasn’t gotten better over the years, but I have found ways to manage and compensate. It isn’t easy. Every social gathering or trip to the store can trigger an attack, especially this time of year. Alcohol and drugs were my social lubricant and gave me a false sense of well-being and courage.

Like others I know, I have become a master at “faking it”. Being encouraged by others to walk through it and face it, I have gone to the parties while smiling and pretending to have a good time. Sometimes I do. Other times, I am about to jump out of my skin. It’s just who I am and it doesn’t mean I have to be fixed. I don’t like crowds and I don’t do well in awkward situations. Sometimes, it makes for some funny stories afterwards!

This year I find myself in limbo. While I am more grateful than I have ever been in my life, I am missing the mountains and the solitude of nature. A leg injury has left me unable to walk, let alone hike. There isn’t a Christmas decoration to be seen in my house. But most of all, I am feeling the pain of some of my loved ones and close friends.

Hearing the news of a young mother dying and leaving two small children, the mother of three beautiful kids dying unexpectedly, and a close friend spending Christmas alone because of a serious illness is overwhelming. So many people I know are just trying to make it through the holidays.

It’s only one day. That’s what I tell myself when it seems too much to handle. If I don’t buy everyone a gift or cook the perfect meal, it’s ok. It’s over on December 26th. Some years I am able to pull it off but this year I’m not. Learning to accept my limitations is a gift to myself for all of the years I didn’t. I can do this for others, too. Giving someone the grace to not feel the holiday spirit the same way I do is vital to my serenity and it helps others by not putting pressure on them to be festive during the holidays.

Whatever I wasn’t able to do during Christmas this year, I can plan and look forward to doing any other time. In fact, I can make those special memories and moments throughout the year. This last month has been special in so many ways. My daughter had a son born on Thanksgiving Day and I was able to be in the room and witness the birth of my grandson. He will get his own blog here soon. I attended the wedding of a special friend that brought tears to my eyes.

Most of all, I want to share that Christmas isn’t always easy and it’s fine if we are ready for it to be over. It won’t be the same every year. Let’s do the best we can and be kind. That’s all. We don’t know what others might be struggling to overcome. Someone might be spending their first Christmas without a loved one, a parent might be handing a child over to an ex for the holiday, a friend might be alone or suffering with addiction, depression, or anxiety. Take a moment during your celebration and offer friendship and light to another. It might make someone’s day or even save a life. God is Good. All the time.

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2022년 12월 08일

Well written (as always!), CL. I've never enjoyed the amped-up but lonely holidays, and I've always breathed a sigh of relief when they're over. It's okay. We show up and do the best we can, one day at a time. And this, I love: "It won’t be the same every year. Let’s do the best we can and be kind. That’s all". ❤️

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