Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Gift of Gratitude

***Submitted by Alison, who devotes much of her time to MARR—a non-profit treatment center in Atlanta that provides lasting treatment through gender-specific programs.

A dear friend of mine is experiencing trouble in her marriage, and my heart breaks for her. While I am not at will to declare whether or not her husband is an alcoholic, I can say that alcohol is at the root of their troubles. Fifteen months into recovery myself, this subject hits way too close to home.

I entered the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous to save a seven-month marriage. But what I didn’t know then is that I would be saved along the way. My drinking had spiraled out of control to the point of unmanageability, but my denial ran too deep to claim powerlessness over alcohol. It took a relapse to understand that I am not in control—and haven’t been for quite some time.

I have learned so much about myself these last 15 months, but I have also had to ‘unlearn’ attitudes, behaviors and ways of thinking. My marriage has experienced great joys in recovery, but my husband and I are still as human as we were before I got sober. The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines daily, surrendering to God’s will, fulfilling His purpose and taking responsibility for our part in everything.

Today I am more than sober—I am in recovery. I am thankful for the gift of gratitude, because when I am thankful, I am at peace. The 12 Steps teach me how to live each day to its fullest; when I stumble, I rely on God to bring me to my feet once again. I can look at life through clear lenses, and I can enjoy things as they are—not as I wished they would be.

I believe every prayer should be a little bit of please, a touch of thank you, a splash of forgive me, and a handful of requests for others. When my prayers are filled with far more pleading that God’s will bend to my own, I re-boot and focus solely on the things for which I am grateful. Recovery has allowed me to look deep within myself, as well as wait patiently for my Creator to respond in all things.

I am thankful God awakened this morning. I am thankful for my precious life just as it is—for my wonderful husband who supports and loves me for who I am, and for my children who remind me how to laugh. I am thankful that the breath of God is all around me, and I am thankful for this very moment. I am thankful for sobriety, freedom and new life. But most of all, I am thankful for the opportunity to be thankful. 

Life is truly a gift—that’s why it’s called the present.


  1. Love this hopeful post! Thanks for sharing...15 months is AWESOME!!

  2. That is truly beautiful. Thank you.

  3. Alison, Congratulations!!!
    That's some solid recovery there girl! The underlying message I got is that you totally grasp the difference between not drinking and working a recovery program. I always tell my clients, it is easy for us to stop drinking,. The difficult part is learning how to "do life" and that can only come from daily work,.
    wtg, and keep sharing the promises; its a message so very important for the person in early recovery

  4. While this might not be the appropriate time or forum for this post, I'm hoping all of you will take a moment to offer your wisdom and advice to someone in need.

    I've been a pretty heavy drinker for the better part of seven years. I maintained a normal life to observers but, as you all know, inside I was dying a little more with each passing day. For the last couple of years it became clear that I have a problem and that changes needed to be made.

    I've now reached the point where I am extremely determined to quit drinking. I've tried to moderate my drinking the last several months, but that's not the answer. Not only do I want a better life for myself and my family, but it's also not worth it anymore. Although drinking was once enjoyable, the damage it causes far outweighs any benefits it could possibly bring. I've had enough.

    My biggest hurdle, it seems, are the awful physical symptoms I'm suffering from. I often used to drink to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Once I gave my body what it became used to, I would find temporary relief. I now have the courage and willpower to abstain and deal with the terrible side-effects, but sometimes they are unbearable. I have a headache all day, every day. I find it difficult to concentrate and am often confused. I am irritable toward the people I care about.

    It has been nearly a week since I last drank. I don't want it and I know that drinking will only relieve the symptoms temporarily, if at all. Is there anything I can do to help myself feel at least a little better? If anyone has any advice, please reply.

    Thank you so much for your time, and even more for the support and generosity you've extended to each other. I just discovered this forum a couple of weeks ago and it has had a tremendous impact on me. It's helped me make even the small progress I've made. Thank you!

  5. What a beautiful post. Gratitude is a gift I am just learning to understand. I am 15 days sober and working into a recovery. Since the bottom hit me on August 2 I have not drank and have attended an AA meeting every single day since then. If you would have told me a month ago that I would be going to daily AA meetings I would have scoffed. I was totally functioning and successful, happily married, mom of two boys but I was also downing at least a bottle of wine a night on a slow night. That led to vodka hidden so my husband couldn't smell it. In June I decided I was don draper and started drinking at lunches. The gig was up 15 days ago. In 15 meetings I've fallen in love with the AA program I avoided for so long. Julia--It's only been 15 days for me but I had REALLY bad headaches for a full week and was terribly tired and irritable. I woke up soaked in sweat for 5 days. Someone told me to treat myself like a newborn....sleep a lot, eat healthy and drink lots of fluids to flush my system. I feel worlds better at day 15 though still tired. I wonder how I pulled it off, all that drinking and hiding and sneaking and lying. I am beyond grateful and blessed that I'm dealing with this day to day. It gets better. I'm only a few days ahead of you! God bless you! :)

  6. Struggling but doing it day by dayAugust 19, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    Reading all these posts also makes me feel extremely grateful. I too have felt the symptoms you are all mentioning but they are better than the awful symptoms I've experienced in the past from drinking. I am only 22 days sober and am grateful for every single moment of every day. I am beginning to feel alive again. I have yet to attend an AA meeting but that is the first thing I am going to do once I return from dropping my daughter in charleston, SC for her first year away at college. I too hid bottles of vodka in my dresser drawers to hide it from my husband. The burden that has been lifted by no longer hiding and lying has helped to begin the discovery and strengthening process. Now I need to do the daily work through AA and friends who are in recovery who I now have shared my agony and truth with. It's getting less and less scary each time I find someone to share my secret with. If anyone is out there doubting whether they can do it, please don't a friend told me "just do it." there is such a better life out there waiting for all of us who are battling addiction. Take that first step!!!!

  7. beautiful post...full of hope and overcoming.