Christmas Eve had arrived. My snow village was up, and the tree lit, with hopes of Christmas magic. Holiday music was playing on the CD player. The Advent wreath had all four candles glowing. Smells of a home cooked meal lingered. Drapes were drawn, bringing a safe, cozy-nest feeling in the living room.
I was home. Alone. My choice. It was a good choice, despite my Mom insisting it wasn’t. My three boys were with their Dad, and darling daughter was enjoying Christmas with her new husband. Some of my siblings and their families were piled up at the folks. I stayed home to breathe.
It was the three-month marker following a four-year tumultuous path to divorce. My daughter and three sons had made it through the terrain of ups and downs, with their own medals of fortitude, grit and resilience. Only time would unfold the layers of scarred pain and the healing needed through love, forgiveness and, for me, the gift of faith.
It was the first time in forty-two years, I would be alone for Christmas. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine such a thing – ever. Life has a way of happening. Life shook me to the very core of my being, leaving me questioning love, life itself, and the depths of my belief in a church filled with rules and judgement that were becoming unbearable. Good church people – yes, and heart-filled gratitude for them, for they helped keep me sane when I felt insane and loved me when I felt unlovable. Bad church people – yes, in their gossip and judgments and keepers of the rules. I was so grateful they were NOT the God I wrapped my faith around. The God, who, in spite of everything, I rested in, prayed and listened to – and yelled and screamed at, in my darkest days and weeks and months – only to once again rest in … when I finally learned to be still and listen.
I wasn’t going to church that Christmas Eve, even with the admonishment received from a very well-meaning and fear-of-the-devil, Mom. I was staying home. I needed to let this holy night, melt into me. I pictured the bravery, fear, persistence, compassion and love Mary and Joseph experienced in the story of their baby, Jesus, being born. Theirs was not an easy journey, at all. They did it one step at a time. One leg of a journey, and then another. They asked for help. It was given. They were not alone. They had each other, but I imagine, it was a long and lonely journey for them. I like to think, their companion was faith, being true to what God was guiding them to do, despite obstacles.
For a while that night, I reflected on my last four years. I wished I would have quieted myself and listened to God sooner. I hadn’t wanted to believe what was true. Our marriage was over. My husband was leaving. He was finally being true to himself, while I fought, argued, begged, prayed and fasted for a miracle that was never going to happen. I was my biggest obstacle in moving on with life. The story I was telling myself wasn’t true. The story was mixed up with rules, and teachings of a church and some of society that didn’t honor him, as a gay man. God didn’t make a mistake. We made mistakes in how we were handling a really hard situation.
Fear was anchoring us all, deeply. Fear on so many levels. For a long time, it ruled us. Emotionally, we were all taking a beating we didn’t know how to handle, but we moved ahead, as best we could. I asked for help, knowing I could not do life without it. I got it. I was not alone. The younger boys went to counseling. The youngest got a Kinship partner, who, with his wife, created a vision for my son on what a happy marriage looked like, he was only 6 when life turned upside down. With the help of a friend, who went with me to the doctor, I dealt with depression and thoughts of suicide. I got into counseling. I went through a Co-Dependency Program – twice, the first time, didn’t stick. I went to Al-Anon. I left a church filled with judgement and rules I could not follow, nor embrace anymore. I took off my rose-colored glasses and saw Truth and Life as it really was. Faith was my quiet companion, present, in the darkest dark and the dawn of days. God never left.
So, that first, quiet, Christmas Eve night I spent alone, was hard, necessary and desperately needed. Nestled in the quiet softness of the night, I could feel a flicker and then, a glow in my heart. Faith was present. God was present. Unexpectedly, forgiveness began to seep into every round edge and corner of my being. I forgave myself for being such a crappy Mom and began to see a Mom who really tried and didn’t give up. I let tears flow and forgave their Dad. Like me, he traveled mountains and came through, true to himself. The gift of time has been a friend through the years. It has taken lots time and lots of years, for a friendship between the two of us, to rekindle. And it has. Thankfully, our kids have their unique love for both of us, too.
It was a magical Christmas Eve. It was a blessing. It was a new beginning filled with bravery, compassion, persistence and love for life, my children, my future and myself. Wisdom was present because of lessons I learned and experienced … wrapped in the gift of faith, and a gentle glow of peace and joy.
My Encouragement to You:
Ask for help when you need help. Even if it’s scary – be brave and do it. Trust your gut, it won’t steer you wrong. I would have enjoyed life sooner, if I would have trusted my gut.
I know it’s hard, but … let go of what other people think of you. Your priority is you. Do what you have to do, to get healthy and strong. I didn’t want people to know the secret I was living with. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t want to feel anger or fear … and I experienced all of it. I pretended, I stuffed, I ignored and denied the stanch presence of Truth because of what others might think. Pretending everything is ok, only hurts the pretender … and really doesn’t fool anyone. That energy is felt by those who love you. Love your incredible self and take care of you. You will have people in your life who will help. Don’t let pride get in the way, like it got in mine. Let it go, in order to move forward.
Forgive. It’s a big deal. Forgiveness is for you. It’s a huge part of healing. It’s a gift to yourself. Even if you have to do it over and over again. Forgive.
Let time be your friend. Life is a journey through time. Every choice creates a lesson learned, a nugget of wisdom – a yay or a nay. Thankfully, life is filled with practicing moments and days and years. It’s how we become wise!
If you can, embrace the gift of faith. For me, God is that gift. A quiet knowing that in the whole big picture, I am not alone. Thank goodness. It is my wish for you.
Blessings and Love …
Being Me. Life. Stories. Lessons. Awareness. Faith. Denial. Heartache. Truth. Wisdom. Love.