Early on, in my not drinking, I heard, “Practice an attitude of gratitude.” So, I practiced not whining.
However, I couldn’t say I was grateful that drinking wasn’t in the cards for me. Those days weren’t exactly recovery, because I wasn’t getting better; I just wasn’t drinking.
But somewhere, somehow an attitude of gratitude came more naturally.
Sometime in those early days, I began meeting women and men who weren’t playing games, whose serious search for sobriety made me understand how lucky I was to have been shown a way out of the insanity that alcoholic drinking causes. Slowly, I began to appreciate that they were giving me a gift of enormous value. Hearing their experiences, good and bad, seeing their strength and their hope in working the Twelve Steps, I came to believe that shame, insanity, or death need not be my end.
Not that I was that bad, I am tempted to say, so you wouldn’t think badly of me. Then, I can hear my sponsor quietly say, “Not yet, you’re not – keep drinking and you will lose your mind or die.”
It took some time and working with other women who wanted to stop drinking, for me to grow in gratitude for being “wired” in such a way I cannot safely drink – whether it is my genetic makeup, or an allergy to alcohol that blossomed because of alcohol use and abuse.
But it was one Christmas Eve, maybe thirty years ago that I was overcome with gratitude, even as grief crowded in. I got the news that a woman with whom I had tried to work had died – beaten to death by her second husband.
She would say the right words, go to meetings, listen, and have coffee afterward. But she could not stop drinking. She was ten years younger than I, and lost a baby to alcohol fetal syndrome; next, her first husband and then her life.
Words can’t describe properly the grief and gratitude her memory stirs up – I repeat it, one to remind me, alcoholism is a chronic disease; and two, sobriety is a gift – of grace. Recovery is a gift, too. But for God’s grace, her story might have been mine. Sharing what I have learned – with gratitude for those who shared their recovery with us – is the only way to enjoy both!
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton
Love in Christ,
Sober & Grateful