Gratitude is my greatest teacher…
Gratitude can be a tricky concept. Some days I am full of gratitude, others I struggle to smile. When I first got sober I had nothing. What I did have however, was exactly what I needed: the clothes on my back and desperation to live a new way of life. A plan was laid out before me and suggested by others that I follow these steps.
As I did, simple things became glorious. Old tendencies disappeared. I suddenly had a fellowship grow up around me consisting of people who only wanted to stay sober, and to help others do the same. As a result of this I was full of gratitude. Simple things like the ability to walk to the local coffee spot and meet up with some friends filled me with joy. Choosing where to go to dinner on a Friday night filled me with a sense of freedom I hadn’t experienced in a long time. My mental obsession was gone, so any act outside of that obsession represented something that was brand new to me. For all of these things, I was grateful.
After I adjusted to this new life and freedom from the drink or drug, that gratitude subsided a tiny bit. Learning that having gratitude is an action, has been one of the biggest lessons I have learned in recovery. It became something that I would have to earn. To me, it became the epitome of something, “that in order to keep, you have to give away”. My life today is full of things that bring me joy, stress me out, make me angry, make me laugh and make me cry. I have come to accept this as reality. In the midst of severe alcohol and drug addiction, it was this reality that I refused to embrace. I only wanted to feel good. I only wanted to be happy and party. I wanted my nights to be an alcoholic haze, and the following morning to be heavily medicated. I did not want to except that life had its ups and downs. I was completely unable to feel anything, much less gratitude.
Sometimes I have to look for things to be grateful for. Other times, they come to me. Feeling overwhelmed with gratitude and staring at a credit card bill do not often go hand in hand, however today I am grateful that I can pay that bill. Gratitude can be like that dream you had last night, if only you could just remember it you may be able to recapture how it feels. Other times, it smacks you right in the face when you least expect it. Like when somebody you love calls you and just tells you that they appreciate you. There will be times when that grateful feeling escapes me completely, and that’s fine because that’s life. Ups and downs. I don’t beat myself up when I’m grumpy. I embrace it as a reality, which was something that was impossible for me in the past. I can find gratitude in anything, so long as I continue to look for it.