This month I’m going to post some Christmas-related items that I rediscovered in my files, a couple you may have seen before, and a couple new ones.
Today I’m posting an essay that my deceased husband Charles wrote in 2010. It’s never been published so I decided to ‘publish’ it here. I hope you enjoy it as I have. I miss you Charles and love you still.
I asked myself, “Which Christmas was the most meaningful to me?” Then I realized it was the Christmas when I was alone—for the first time.
It was December 1973. Earlier that year I had traveled from the East Coast to California. I’d left my home and family on Long Island for a woman I thought I wanted a future with. Apparently she had other ideas, even though it was she who offered the invitation—and she who dumped me months after I arrived.
I’ve spent a lot of years condemning myself over those actions. But the real turn-around started where the truth usually starts—at the bottom.
About mid-afternoon in Los Angeles, on Christmas Eve that year I was headed home from work. I’d hosted my departmental managers to a lunch, a bit of alcohol, and a whole bunch of silly banter. They were my office friends, my only friends, and in a sense, at the moment, all the family I had.
At this juncture of my life I didn’t do anything but work. I was a full on work-alcoholic and very close to becoming a full-on alcoholic. I put myself, along with my pain, to bed every night with a glass jammed full of ice, and scotch or vodka poured to the brim, and some nonsense book. Along with my work and alcohol addictions I had become addicted to this woman—who by then was out of my life.
Later as I sat in my shabby one–bedroom apartment, a far cry from my home out on Long Island, remorse consumed me. I was in that in-between place, not here, not there, not anywhere. I no longer had a home, a family surrounding me, people who loved me whom I could hug and hang onto. But far more, and just as important, I didn’t have myself.
I slumped onto one of the worn sofas of my “furnished” apartment, tired of myself, tired of life. I was so out of touch I couldn’t even say I was lonely for that woman. But surprisingly I wasn’t angry with her. I was angry with myself. Really angry! It always came out that way. I wasn’t enough. I’d never been enough.
Now I’d hit bottom … or close to it.
The gray December afternoon settled in. It matched perfectly what was going on inside me. My dis-ease and loneliness spread into my deepest parts.
I started to see that I was there by my choice, by my decision, even if I had unconsciously caused it. I was grateful that I was at a point to start moving toward the most important thing in my life–finding myself.
As the late afternoon light faded into the gloom of a California early winter’s evening, I was coming to the end of a long retreat, and in some small way the beginning of my recovery from a lifetime of allowing life (or my attitude toward it) to squeeze me dry.
At that moment I realized that all I had, would ever have, was the person I am. There was a little something of the real ‘me’ left. What I didn’t know then was the Lord was with me. The woman may have deserted me, and I may have deserted myself, but God hadn’t.
Suddenly I got my tired butt off that tired sofa, pulled on a jacket, and got into my Fiat Spider. At Sears I found a tree, lights, garland, glass balls, candles … all the Christmas stuff I could carry, and fit into my little car.
Three hours later I celebrated my first Christmas alone. The apartment was no longer shabby. It was “bright.” Perhaps not so “merry” as I would have liked it, but it was one step, along with many I’d have to take, toward the happiness I now have. Indeed I’d given something to myself, but far more, to anyone who would share life with me … wife, children, friends, work associates … even those I would unknowingly pass by.
I had started being … me.
“My purpose is to give you life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10)