We Shall Recover the Feeling of Joy

For many years in my adult life, even after coming to SA, I did not enjoy the year end holiday season. Even after celebrating Christmas seasons with my son and my ex-wife, I have struggled with a sour and grumpy attitude about the whole experience. During the last five to ten years of my “sober” marriage with my current wife, my dark holiday cloud at times brought her to tears. And I just didn’t care. This was not a bright spot in our marriage relationship.

This past holiday season before Christmas, in my men’s group I did some emotional work about the holidays. I had fear of becoming my father, a pedophilic minister, who molested his daughter and abused his two oldest sons. My fear is that I will convert to his religious faith and be a hypocrite just like my old man. From that place of fear, I still carry an anger inside that wants to fight and resist my parents and their betrayal of me. Any joy from my childhood memories connected to the happy part of the Christmas celebration (the lights, decorations, music, food, being safe and connected with family and others) is tangled up with my fear of giving in to my parents’ religious beliefs.

One of the men in my group who witnessed my work suggested that I separate or untangle my joyful Christmas connection from the fear about my parents. I made a two-part commitment that night. First, I would ask my wife if she wanted to put up Christmas lights at our house and offer to help her. That is a living amends for my sour, grumpy attitude about Christmas. Second, I would share with my wife my fear and anger about becoming my Dad and converting to his religious faith.

The next morning during my morning meditation I had a Step 11 experience. I had a visualization of Christmas lights leading to my heart chakra. I was headed home to myself and at peace with myself. My experience was a pure, inner experience which reminded me of Bill W.’s hospital “mountain top” experience. My work in the group the night before prepared me to receive this special gift from Spirit.

My wife and I went to have Christmas time with our two young grandkids. We enjoyed hearing them singing at school and we took them and their mom to see a new family movie. After the movie, as I was holding my four-year old grandson’s hand, I heard him quietly singing Jingle Bells to himself. Precious moment!

Before Christmas Day, my adult son texted me to ask if I had any idea where his Christmas stocking from childhood was? When I called him, he reminded me that his grandmother (my mother) had made it for him when he was eight or nine years old and even put his name on it. I had forgotten about that.

Finally, the day after New Year’s Day, I was doing some yard work and I found myself singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” As I was singing, I realized I was singing it to that little boy who still lives inside of me and just wants to be happy and safe in the world.

Looks like my process of thawing out around the Christmas holiday is continuing. It seems to be having a positive effect on my family and close friends, as well. I am grateful for the gifts of recovery that keep showing up, as I trust my Higher Power and keep doing my recovery work. Sometimes I say in meetings, “Joy is my friend.”

Marshal M., California, USA

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