Our son Jonathan (Jon to many) graduated from New Life House last year on Christmas Day. During “pre-New Life” holidays, Jonathan was helpful, and usually easy to get along with. He hid his drinking well – at least from me. So why did I see such a remarkable difference between past years and the time we spent together this Thanksgiving, and why do I feel much more stress-free about Christmas? I truly believe it comes from the changes in Jonathan, as well as the changes in me. Jonathan gained so much more from New Life than just getting sober. In addition to the very important life skills that he learned, there have been remarkable character changes. He is a pleasure to spend time with. In a recent regular update that we receive, The Parent Connection, there was a wonderful article regarding Gratitude. Part of it read “Gratitude is the feeling of thankfulness coupled with an act of expression”. From Jonathan, he shows gratitude through expressions of caring, helpful hand without expectation of something in return, and meaningful and honest conversations. Again, learned through his time at New Life, with continual practice. Relationships are two-sided, and Jonathan is only one side of our dynamic. Both his Step-dad and I have worked hard on ourselves, and have learned a great deal from the Saturday New Life House family meetings, and regular participation in our Al-Anon program. This is not to say everything has been easy, or that continued growth is not needed and important.
Jonathan did not come home for the first Christmas while he was at New Life. That was hard but in hindsight was what was needed for all of us. This Christmas he will not come home, but for a very different reason – he will be working. A job that he has worked hard at, one that he enjoys, and one that he would never have obtained if not for all he learned at New Life. I will be ok not seeing him on the 25th. Through the recovery process I am more accepting of change, and know that when we celebrate on the 26th, we will spend a wonderful day together cooking, talking, laughing, and eating.
I have a lot of gratitude this holiday season!