Last night I had a very intense dream where a sober friend of mine started drinking again. I got very mad at him and said he should think through the drink, remember what it was really like before so that he'd quit again. He said, "Tara, I used to be like that. I'd think and I wouldn't drink, but you know what, I have that drink and I don't have to think anymore." It really freaked me out - the thought that it can all slip away so easily. On the other hand, I know that's a lie too. When I used to drink I thought all the time about what I was doing to myself and how I needed to change and that I wasn't good enough and that I had to do something, anything, to get out of that continual feeling of dread and sick.
I don't find Christmas difficult because I miss drinking. I find it difficult because it reminds me how life and happiness can sometimes hang by a single thread. One person can ruin it for everyone. One person can drink too much, or say the wrong thing, or get trapped inside their own problems and kill a simple dream. I know now that I have tools to deal with these small losses, but as a child I never did. I don't even remember having big wishes for huge gifts. I remember wanting a peaceful Christmas like those I saw at my friends' houses. It was never to be, not until years after my parents divorced. And even then I was still (and am still) haunted by Christmases past.
What I realized from my dream this morning is that I'm also a bit haunted by Christmas future too. Not because I'm afraid I'll drink, but because the fabric of my own family still feels so delicate. I'm afraid my husband will drink, or that I'm not good enough, or that I haven't said or done the right things and am a huge disappointment. That our marriage will fall away and everyone will be desperately unhappy. I'm not sure where this anxiety comes from, but it's here in force and it leads me to worry and scheme (yes to scheme) about how I can go about preventing it. The thing is that of course I can only focus on what I'm doing. I can only work on fixing what's wrong with me. I can only try to stay in the moment and accept it and find the peace that is there now. Worrying about the future this way buys anxiety I don't need. I have to let go of what I think I want and of what I believe I can control. I have to be open to the idea that I don't have all of the answers and never will.
Right now, I need to look around and see that everything is okay. Breathe.