The daylight hours are shrinking here. With just under 8 hours of daylight now, knowing those will dwindle to just over seven in less than a month, I've found the Church's celebration of Advent gives meaning to the encroaching darkness. Advent reminds me that darkness is not the end of the story. Embracing Advent has been a hopeful alternative to the gritting of my teeth I used to do in order to get through these darkening days. Don't get me wrong. I'd be lying if I said I embraced these days with full abandon. I'm as happy as the next person to see December 22nd arrive with the knowledge of lengthening days literally on the horizon. But having a focus during the waiting helps.
A year ago I was in a very dark place. It was on the cusp of Advent that I was able to admit outloud for the first time that I struggled with sexual addiction. The paralyzing shame prompted me to write this prayer at an Advent retreat. What followed was close to 120 days of abstinence. I can still remember what it felt like to be present in the painful places; at times feeling empty, agitated, and restless. The weird but hopeful feeling to choose not to fill the gaping hole with that which could not heal it. The foreign but welcome realization that it was possible to acknowledge the gaping hole without rushing for the nearest escape route. I'm not sure I befriended the gaping hole but I learned it was possible to co-exist with it.
When youngest son moved out of our home and into the home of his 15 year old girlfriend my stringing together of one-day-at-a-times came to an end. I chose to revert back to habits of self numbing oblivion to get through abruptly becoming an empty nester.
What is that saying? It's darkest just before the dawn? By the end of the third month of being an empty nester I nearly lost my 18+ years of sobriety. Although I had always been a social drinker, becoming a closet one was starting to look inviting. Making my way to an AA meeting after an 8 or 9 year absence felt like more of a bottom than my initial steps into a meeting all those years ago. Admitting I couldn't do this recovery journey solo anymore was more humbling than a relief. I've since learned that years without a drink are entirely different than years of sobriety. I feel 95% newbie and 5% old timer at meetings.
Let Go and Let God is a recurring theme in recovery circles. Not too long ago I read somewhere you can either let go or get dragged. When I think of the verse "the truth shall set you free" maybe that's what letting go means. Perhps when I find myself getting dragged I am resisting truth. Today I experienced a moment when I was able to let go of a situation. These days I celebrate those tiny victories. It was a moment of "oh, that's not my problem to comment on, let alone fix."
Letting go is what I am bringing down with me into the darkness to chew on this Advent. This post has given me focus as I prepare to hunker down and wait for the Light.