One of the First Slogans I heard
From the beginning in recovery, I heard, “Practice an attitude of gratitude.” Not understanding completely, I practiced not whining.
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. And I became willing to listen, and not compare.
Their stories 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 their stories 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 I had a choice, a daily reprieve.
Incarceration, 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.The elevator goes down to places that “bottom” barely describes. ”
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, I can’t drink safely.
Grief Highlighted Gratitude
But it was one Christmas Eve, maybe thirty years ago that gratitude became dimensional.
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; then, her first husband and finally her life.
But for God’s grace, her story might have been mine.
We had a lot in common, our patterns, problems and pain. 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 choice, and a gift – of grace. It is for the taking
Now, I get what practicing an attitude means — even for what I don’t understand. Gratitude isn’t always my default emotion, but can keep me from drinking when I practice it.
I am grateful for God, for the program, for the friends — even if the pain hurts and the problems confuse me.
More will be revealed.
And it will be enough for what is at hand, if I don’t drink.
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