Last night, I sat in church listening to the pre-service music, reflecting on my journey over the past 365 days. This was my second Christmas clean and sober. Last Christmas, I was 3 days into inpatient treatment spending the holiday getting the help I so desperately needed. I can recall a couple of people asking gingerly how I felt about being in treatment for Christmas, almost afraid to ask out of well-intentioned pity or sadness. But in my heart, I knew that the alternative would have been miserable. I was vocal and grateful about what a wonderful gift to be alive, full of life. I was glad to be in the treatment center over Christmas. It was where I needed to be. And every step of this journey has been exactly what I needed to go through – whether I felt it or not at the time.
I literally teared up with joy during most of the pre-season music and during the carols throughout the rest of the service last night. I didn’t hold it back completely because it was wonderful to feel the joy and excitement of the season – almost as if the entire experience were new to me. And in one respect, it was. I was given the gift of new life a year ago and much like I imagine it is for someone who survives a bad accident, or treatment for cancer or other life-threatening illnesses — like addiction — I truly see life from a different perspective. As the Judy Collins song says so poignantly from her own experience, “I’ve looked at life from both sides now…”
I take things a little less for granted. I don’t sweat the small stuff as much as I used to. I savor the moments a little more than in the past. And, with each day that passes, I grow in acceptance, surrender and humility through the grace of my Higher Power.
I teared with joy for Adrian, born on my re-birth day, named after his father’s close friend who died of an overdose three years ago. I felt gratitude for the two newcomers at Homegroup just before the service, thankful that they found the courage to walk in the rooms and seek freedom. And, I cried with a hopeful sadness for my friend J who text me this week, still in the grips of his addiction – hopeful that the experiences he has had with recovery wrestle to the forefront of his mind and spirit and give him the courage to find help.
What a difference a year makes.
What a change in perspective.