Gifts in Dust

Little gifts arrive at unexpected times, and who doesn’t like presents?

Imagine friends stopping by to drop off birthday gifts for you, leaving them on your kitchen counter.  Imagine that you let those gifts pile there, unopened.  Dust gathers on the wrapping.  Crumbs fall on them as you prepare food; the ribbons become spotted with wayward splashes from the sink.

Does this seem ridiculous?  I can’t fathom ignoring a pile of gifts with my name on them.  It’s as crazy as throwing out Halloween candy (well, at least the little chocolate bars – fruit chews I can do without).

Please put on your metaphor hat, if you haven’t already.

It’s one thing to be given a gift.  It’s another thing to receive it.

Until I open the gift, examine it, try it on and use it I haven’t really received it.  It is mine, all right. But until I truly accept the gifts I’ve been given, they just gather dust waiting for me to notice them.

I can think of gifts I have given to others that weren’t well received.  Sometimes it was disappointing, sometimes annoying, and sometimes truly hurtful.  I put time and effort into choosing (and in some rare cases, even making) something special for someone, only to never see it worn/used/displayed.

On the other hand, is there any better feeling than to see someone I love cherishing a gift I’ve given?  The child to can’t sleep without that teddy I chose, the friend who looks fabulous in that scarf and wears it often.  A thank-you is appreciated, but to actually see a present I selected be used and enjoyed is the best evidence of gratitude.

Back to the presents on the counter, the ones with our names on them that we are ignoring.   What stops us from opening them?

I don’t want it. (Too bad – it is yours now so you have to decide what to do with it.  It is your responsibility.)

I don’t deserve it. (Maybe, maybe not.  That doesn’t change the fact that you own it.  Why waste it?)

I might not like it. (Only one way to find out.  Give it a whirl.  Someone chose it for you for a reason.)

It’s going to be too much work. (You are working around it as you leave it on the counter.  Why not transfer some of that effort?)

I didn’t ask for it.  (True, but it was given to you just the same.  You own it.)

I’m afraid of what’s inside. (Ahhhh.  Silly child.  Why would someone who loves you given you something bad?  And what is the worst that can happen?  If you don’t like it, you can change it to suit you or find another use for it.)

In order to quit drinking, I have realized that I used wine as a tool for comfort, and I needed comfort because I wasn’t acknowledging things that were bothering me.  Sometimes I confuse denial with strength.  I mistake animation for joy.  And for the past decade, I was confusing numb with comfortable.

Giving up alcohol has meant finding other ways to comfort myself, and also decreasing the constant need for comfort by clarifying my thinking and behaviour.

The funny part is, I really am a happy, bubbly person.  I am strong.  I’ve always considered those special gifts.  Yet I had to muck through how to still be myself while not ALWAYS being happy and strong.  I don’t want to be sad or weak, but sometimes it is necessary and called for.

I want to be liked, that’s my comfort zone.  Happy, strong, liked.  Now I am learning that I can’t trade “liking how I feel” for “being liked”.  If I fake being happy or strong in order to be liked, I will create discomfort within myself and that’s when the cravings start.

What I need is a way sort out if I am being authentic.

So I shuffle through the pile on my metaphorical kitchen counter to see if there is a forgotten gift there that might be of use and ah, there it is: discernment.

I blow the dust off the bow and remove the treasure from its wrapping.  It is tucked in my pocket for now, and I can pull it out whenever needed.


  1. Thank you for putting your story out there. I read your blog every night to get through another day without alcohol. Last night I slipped up-the kids were making me bonkers and I couldn’t find a release. I regret drinking and did not drink tonight. What types of things do any of you do when you’re stressed/aggravated and you need a release? Thank you ❤️


    • Hi, I’m glad you wrote. That sucks that alcohol got to you last night and I’m glad you got past the wobble. It’s hard but you’re doing a great thing for yourself and your kids. You are worth it and it gets easier, I promise. In the early days I took a lot of baths and ate a lot of ice cream. Take some big slow breaths and listen to recovery podcasts. Set up an anonymous twitter account and follow other people who tweet about sobriety – tweet if you’re feeling shaky and you’ll get support. I hope this helps and I am honoured to know this blog has been useful to you. Keep going!!


      • Wow, thanks so much for this! I knew you were different- not enough people out there care enough to support others regardless of why they need support. I knew you’d respond! Ok, I can do this. I can’t thank you enough for your suggestions. Have a wonderful day. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this gift post and gift blog…I am seeking discernment and desiring authenticity on day 13… Wolfie stalks me…Iamme


    • I am well – thank you so much for thinking of me. I am learning learning learning as I go. The lessons swirl around in my brain for a long time before they filter down into coherant messages worth sharing. Hope you enjoy the post I (finally) wrote today. Take good care.


  3. Thank you for this wonderful blog. Incredibly insightful and well written. I have it bookmarked now – one of only a few I read in the mornings to anchor the day. I look forward to your next post.


    • I have to tell you that your comment was an early Christmas gift – hearing from others is so encouraging and helpful. I read it as I was bustling through preparations and I just stopped and sat for a moment and soaked up gratitude. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and to share your kind words.


    • Thank you! Writing helps me along and it constantly surprises (and delights!) me to know that others can relate. I thought I was so alone but that’s never been true. We are all similar and can help one another by connecting and opening up. There is nothing to be ashamed of, especially when we are trying to make a positive change!


  4. I’ve recently started a blog of my own, and am still trying to figure out how to link blogs, if that is ok with you. In the mean time, I “pressed this” to my site at
    I hope I did that right!
    Your blog is a terrific inspiration, full of wisdom. Thank you.


  5. Now, granted, I got sober nine months before the wedding, but the reality is that in the first few years of sobriety/marriage I was to undergo a dramatic shift in my personality. I was to finally realize my authentic self and unfortunately, my marriage wasn’t able to weather the shift. My husband may have different things to say about the demise of our union, but I know, deep down, what the jumping off point was.


  6. My marriage formally came to an end this week. There was a two year separation prior to this court date and many people in my life today have only known me as a single woman. They aren’t aware of all that happened during the ten years that we were together and its really none of their business. But when asked, I tell them, “I changed when I got sober.”

    Now, granted, I got sober nine months before the wedding, but the reality is that in the first few years of sobriety/marriage I was to undergo a dramatic shift in my personality. I was to finally realize my authentic self and unfortunately, my marriage wasn’t able to weather the shift. My husband may have different things to say about the demise of our union, but I know, deep down, what the jumping off point was.

    My point is that you are spot on about the gifts. We are given so much when we make the decision to put down the bottle. But we will never know just how beautiful life can be unless we take them out of the metaphorical box and test drive them. Congratulations on another day sober.


  7. When we make the decision to find our true selves, the reasons for our bad habits becomes clear. I think I have joined you at times confusing denial with strength, and wanting to be liked so much, I lost sight of who I really was. Hopefully, I’ve let go of most of that and now am enjoying just being me. Enjoyed your post.


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