Monday, January 31, 2011

On Gratitude

***Submitted by Tara, who blogs at The Act of Returning To Normal.    Tara posted about her 30 days, and she's back to write about how her journey is going. 

Recently I was at a meeting, and after months of sharing about my difficulties and struggles, I finally remembered to say that things are going well.

By this I mostly mean that my emotional state has improved, because, if you looked at the circumstances of my life with an objective eye, you might be hard-pressed to find many changes. From the outside, I'm sure my life looks much as it did when I was drinking, but as I approach five months of sobriety, I can honestly say that I have moments of sheer joy. This is new and it has only become possible because of my sobriety.

Now when I look back on my days of drinking, I'm reminded of the movie Ground Hog Day. I re-lived the same day over and over again, beginning with promises to not drink, followed by drinking to excess, followed by hangovers, both physical and emotional. If insanity is solely defined by performing the same actions and expecting different results, the only way I can classify my life as it was then, was insane.

Gosh, it's harder to write about happiness and peace than it is to write about sadness and pain, even though the emotions ostensibly come from the same place. But it is important to show the light, as well as the darkness, so here goes:

By staying sober and consciously focusing on finding gratitude for the gifts I have (so difficult in the beginning), I now find that an emphasis on gratitude has become a state of mind. Instead of always looking for the negative in any circumstance, I now find myself looking for the lesson, the positive elements, or even the "thank god that didn't happen."

As a result, I'm beginning to open myself up to possibilities, taking baby steps and moving forward, even though I don't know what the future holds...first things first, and all. I can now see others, independently from my own mental and emotional state, and actually be there to support them. Over the course of the past few months, these small changes have produced radical change.

While I'll never forget the intensity of the first 30 days, or 60, or even the relief at 90, obsessively counting each day, hour, or minute, I do want to say that with each small change, each day that passes, real life takes hold and it gets easier. It is possible now to go hours or days without thinking about a drink.
And even though it's only been four and a half months, my life is fuller than I ever thought possible.


  1. "The only prayer you will ever need is "thank you"." This is a favorite quote, and your post reminded me of it. I, too, have a life where, if you describe the circumstances, has more difficulties than when I was using drugs/alcohol. I am taking care of a spouse who had a complicated surgery with a long rehab; but I have to be grateful for sobriety, for how would I be taking care of him if I was high? Gracious me, it's all around us, the things we should be thankful for. Even if we had what are sometimes described as "toxic parents", we have to recall and be thankful that we made it through childhood; we didn't starve, die from illness or injury. Somebody fed, clothed and sheltered us. There are children who die from not having someone to give this basic care. Gratitude is fundamental to being alive.

  2. This post gives me SO MUCH HOPE.

    I'm newly sober, and I have 'flashes' of what you describe here, but I'm still struggling with the obsession/craving to drink. I can't tell you how much it means to me that you feel as good as you do at four months. I know every day will get better, and I believe the people who tell me to just hang on, and your words really helped me today.

    Thank you.

  3. Hey Anonymous!
    Welcome! Good for you for taking the first step (or however many steps you've taken in this process so far). I'm so happy to hear that my post helped you today. I definitely clung to that in the beginning (AND still do).

    I wanted to add that it gets better even before 4 months. The 'flashes' happen more often and gradually things begin to level out. Keep hanging on and ask for help whenever you need it.

  4. "Ground Hog Day" is the perfect description of how I felt. It is covertly excruciating. Then the joy is a little covert too, like, my life hasn't drastically changed but then those 'FLASHES' are little miracles. 4 months for me. Glad to have a partner!