Sunday, 23 November, 2014
“Gratitude is shown through your actions, not spoken with your words.” A statement my sponsor told me that had a profound impact on the foundation of my recovery. When I first heard people speak of gratitude, especially about being grateful they are addicts, I could not grasp the concept. For so long the only thing in life I longed for was an escape from myself and the pain that I felt, I could not imagine feeling blessed for being the person I felt doomed to be. As time passed I began not only understand but to truly feel in my heart the concepts of recovery; honesty, hope, faith, courage, and so many more. Once I was able to apply the concepts in my life, being grateful took on a whole new meaning to me. What my sponsor told me finally made sense! If I truly am grateful for something I will show it in my actions not just tell others about it. For as long as I could remember my words were used solely for lies and manipulation, so why use them now for gratitude. When instead I could display it so clearly. If I’m truly grateful for my recovery I will not use, if I’m grateful for my home I will keep it clean, If I’m grateful for the people in my life I will respect them. It all seems so simple now. I cannot believe that my life has changed to the degree it has. I was not even able to function in my own mind, let alone society. Today I own my own business and I am a well rounded member of the community with almost 10 years clean and sober. None of this would have been possible without the help I received at lifeskills. Thank you to the staff at lifeskills for not giving up on me when I had completely given up on myself. Glad I now know how to express gratitude without words because there are not enough words to express how truly grateful I am for the life I have today.”
Wednesday, 12 November, 2014
I work shoulder to shoulder with the doctors and nurses that treated me two years ago. They have no idea, they don’t even recognize me. They know me as a friend and colleague. Clients walk in and they express the fear, sadness, and hopelessness of their active addiction. I say, I sat in your seat. I have remained sober for almost two years now. I feel fear, anger, sadness and loneliness; but I also feel happiness, hope, love and belonging. I live a life of imperfection. I call my sponsor and talk to him about these things. I go to a meeting, I read the book, and I work the steps. I go home, get in bed, and close my eyes. I think, I didn’t use today, I didn’t even think of using today. I felt all these feelings and I didn’t have to use today. I am so grateful that I can be a friend, a colleague, and witness to others. I am grateful that I can feel any combination of feelings and remain sober. I am grateful for being a drug addict. My addiction has brought me to a new understanding and acceptance of myself and the world around me. For those of you who were like me, I say you are not alone. You don’t have to do this alone. You don’t have to suffer as I did. It is possible to be grateful for your past and hopeful for the future.
Wednesday, 5 November, 2014
Growing up, my mother emphasized the importance of saying my “pleases” and “thank yous.” As a result, I have rarely forgotten to say “thank you” when appropriate. However, looking back on my life before getting sober, I can’t say that I always meant it. It was more of a formality, something that I had to do. Like most things in my life prior to getting sober, I was able to be physically present and to appear as though I meant what I said, but my heart was rarely in it. Over the past 21 months, being in the program has softened some of the rigidity that characterized me over the past two decades. As I have let myself be open to suggestions and the ways of others, I have learned that the way that I do things, while very efficient at times, is not the only way to do things. Understanding the concept of gratitude has been one of the many new ideas that I have learned. In treatment and through my sponsor, I was introduced to the idea of writing a “Gratitude List.” It seemed so simple to me, yet it was so difficult for me to sit down and actually write one. Like most things in this program, it was the seemingly “easy” ones that I never seemed to be able to do. Probably because they seemed too easy; what was the catch? This aversion to these simple tasks kept me away from the serenity that I feel today for a while. I don’t remember the first time that I sat down to write my own Gratitude List, but I remember the feeling. Upon completion, I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace, and for lack of a better word, gratitude. There were so many little things that I had in my life (and some very big things) that I forgot about every day. Forgetting these things is what kept me from truly enjoying the life that I had started to build for myself. Forgetting these things allowed me to continue getting angry at the driver in front of me who was driving too slowly for my liking, or getting restless when the line was too long at Starbucks. These days, I like to try to keep, in the forefront of my mind, all that I have in my life, the things that I have always had and the new things that I have been blessed with as a direct result of getting sober and trying a new way of life. I can’t say that I am grateful all day everyday, but when I take the time to remember just how lucky I am and how much I have in my life today, all my problems seem to carry much less weight.