I’ve noticed lately, as I enter into my fourth set of ethanol-free holidays, that I am coming at everything from a higher place altogether. I am being transformed, and I will give a good part of the credit to being free from the burden of addiction. No matter how functional and happy I might have been, I am happier now.
I was on my way up this spiritual path long before I stopped drinking. But now, with the added clarity of being free, the veil between spirit and form is lifted more and more each day.
Even when unexpected things that might be perceived as unpleasant occur, I’ve been meeting them with acceptance, because really there is no use in arguing with what is right in front of you. I’m meeting every challenge as an opportunity for greater freedom and clarity.
I’m not trying to change anybody.
I’m not taking things personally.
Nobody owes me anything,
and I’m nobody’s victim.
This entire blog is peppered with earlier references to the codependent sister whom I cut loose eight years ago, Goodbye Toxicity, Hello Grace being the most recent. As time passed, I came to understand that her relationship with me – basically blaming me for her unhappiness and always pointing at me as if I (and my drinking!) were responsible for her personal misery – has been the foundation of some of my life’s biggest lessons, and I am grateful for that. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I felt victimized by her for quite a while there, and now I realize that was my lesson – to shed the victim archetype that my sister worked so hard to lay on me.
Skip this story if you’re sick of hearing about that sister. 🙂
I recently attended a Christmas Pops concert with a couple of dear friends. We got situated in our seats up in the mezzanine in the 3rd row, and were waiting for the show to start when the row in front of us began to fill. A group of familiar faces filed in, my sister’s best friend reached over, grabbed my hand and squeezed, and that sister found her seat directly in front of mine. She’d lost an extreme amount of weight, and looked anorexic.
She locked eyes with me, and swooned loudly in a whiny, manipulative voice, “My sister! Oh look! My sister! Do you love me? You love me.”
It was clear that she was very drunk. Oh, the irony.
I had a visceral reaction to her presence, so I breathed deeply to quiet my heart – that same generous heart she stomped on so many times over the years until I finally ended the relationship. I said nothing right then; I just looked into her drunken eyes as kindly as I could, and then turned to my friend beside me.
During the first half of the concert she spilled her drink, causing distraction to all around. I kept my eyes on the show, and if she turned around, I just put the program up as if reading it. And she kept flipping her hair back so it hit my knees.
Another couple, friends of my friends arrived late, and my sister rose from her seat, leaned over and grabbed the husband and kissed him like he was her long lost lover. She did not know him; she’d never met him before. I told the wife that I cut this sister loose years ago, and she whispered that she had a sister like that too.
I decided to stay put during intermission, and chatted with my friend. When the sister returned, she stood in front of her seat facing me.
”You forgive me,” she said, as both statement and question.
And I said, “Yes, years ago. I forgave you years ago.” I nodded my head.
Then she demanded loudly, “Then kiss me!” Seems I owed her something to prove to her that all was going her way, that this was the sentimental reunion she’d been dreaming about.
Quietly and firmly, I said No.
This whole refrain was repeated three or four times, me assuring her I’d forgiven her. “Then kiss me.” It was as if she were trying to control me, to force herself on me to get what she thought she needed from me. No fucking way.
Then (referring to the homemade Christmas egg ornaments I make each year and stopped giving her eight years ago), she said, as both question and statement, “You make me an egg every year,” as if I’d been stockpiling un-given eggs to bestow upon her when this Hallmark moment occurred.
“You made me eggs,” she whined again.
“No, I did not,” I repeated calmly and clearly.
Every time she repeated it, I made it clear there were no eggs forthcoming, and then I said gently, “I don’t have a relationship with you.”
She started crying. Intermission was over, and the show resumed. She draped herself all over the people around her. She cried throughout much of 2nd half of the concert, mascara running all over her face. Her row mates were holding her hands and coddling her, trying to keep her quiet, and she was touching people in some pretty inappropriate ways, and reclining into them as they hugged her and patted her while trying to enjoy the show.
But while all of this drama was happening in the row in front of me, I was having a spiritual experience up there in the vaulted space of the concert hall. I was clearly being supported by my own angels. I was guided and protected, made comfortable in knowing that all was well, and everything was perfect just as it was. I was uplifted! Never in my life had I felt so thankful.
When the concert was over, my friends turned me around so we put on our coats and exited the row with our backs to her. But I already knew what I would have said had she engaged me further.
“I’m sorry I can’t be responsible for your happiness. I wish you peace.”
A clear line has been drawn between compassion and codependent enabling. I feel compassion for my sister in her desperation and unhappiness, but relenting to her demands would help neither of us. It may sound cold, but it’s not. Just as her presence in my life has taught me to release the wounded victim, I hope that mine in hers teaches her that she can’t pin her happiness or fulfillment on people or things outside of herself.
When people around me exhibit codependent behavior, when they display wounds like currency, I am clear about where the responsibility lies, and I post this periodically on social media throughout the holiday season:
To all of the codependents out there, I’d like to remind you in this holiday season that You and only You are responsible for your own happiness, fulfillment and happy holidays. Nothing is missing; nothing needs fixing; everything is perfect just as it is. Enjoy!
So, if you need the added incentive to stop the ethanol, know that the benefits of presence and clarity are there for you. You can see negativity and drama for what it is, and rise above the fray. You can relax in the knowing that you are supported in every way, and embrace life like the gift it is. Happy Free and Clear Holidays!