Tag Archives: gratitude

Sober Cum Laude

25 Jun

 

It’s graduation time. A time when so many young people move up and move on. Happy celebrations that mark one chapter in life that is ending and a new one beginning. I was delighted to celebrate some of these special occasions with dear friends recently and to be able to do so sober.

In the midst of the festivities, however, yet another friend in recovery went back out “to do more research”. They fell off the wagon. They went back out to their old world of drinking. Often, the action is facilitated by one particular thought: “I’ve got this now.”   However long they have been sober—10 days or 10 years—they think that they can now “control” their drinking. Sorry to say, that ain’t gonna happen.

If however, you are able to prove me wrong, my hat is off to you. No one I know or have met in my five years of sobriety has been able to do that. In fact, I’ve shared some pretty heartbreaking stories on my blog about people who went back out and never returned – they lost their lives to the disease before they could get back in to recovery.   Once a pickle, you can never go back to being a cucumber.

But many people who go back out come right back in. They get themselves back into a recovery program immediately. We are all human. We make mistakes. This disease is cunning, baffling and powerful, so kudos to those who get knocked down and get back up again. I hope that I won’t find myself in that situation but…

Recovery is not a program from which one ever “graduates”. But then again, neither is life. If we aren’t constantly learning, we are going backwards. I can honestly say that some of the most important and most helpful things I’ve learned have been in recovery. And they are pretty basic things that can help anyone, alcoholic or not.

Sobriety 101 teaches us “one day at a time.” Sounds so simple but yet often so hard to live by. When I first got sober, the idea of never having a drink again, EVER, was completely overwhelming to me. What helped the most was when someone would remind me that I don’t have to do it forever, just for today. Tomorrow is another day, and I will tell myself the same thing. In tough times, this may get changed to “one hour at a time.” Make life manageable for yourself. Break things down into attainable goals.

We also learn another crucial axiom: “do the next right thing.”   Again, alcoholic, addict or not, everyone can use this reminder.   When you come to crossroads, make the right choice. It’s not always easy, believe me I get that, but ask yourself what the next right thing is and find a way to do it. If you need to, ask for help.

In AP Sobriety, things get a little more complicated. We hear things like “change I must or die I will,” “attitude of gratitude,” “stinkin’ thinkin’” and, my personal favorite, “turn it over.” Again, all of these can be useful to non-alcoholics as well. Who doesn’t have “stinkin’ thinkin’” sometimes?   Many of us could use an attitude adjustment, and we can all stand to have a little more gratitude. I realize that is very difficult when times are tough. That’s where the “turn it over” part comes in. One thing I’ve learned on this journey of sobriety is to trust in my HP, my Higher Power. When things get really difficult, I have to remind myself to turn them over. Some things are bigger than I am, but not bigger than HP. Whatever your Higher Power, your Spirit, your God, remember to turn things over to It/Him. I know that without my HP, I wouldn’t be sober right now.

Whether you are in recovery or not, there are certain things in life that we could all use refresher courses in.   Sometimes we just need to go back to basics, like the lessons above. I’ve had 1854 days in sobriety school and I learn something new every day. Thanks to all of you who have taught me life lessons along the way. You have my attitude of gratitude.

“The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.” William S. Burroughs

 

 

 

 

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Attitude of Gratitude

23 May

This is a very bittersweet weekend for me. Memorial Day weekend was the last time I drank, three years ago, on a girls’ trip to NYC. It’s the kickoff to summer, and right now the sun is shining brightly and it’s beautiful outside. Last night as I drove kids to various activities, I couldn’t help but notice all the people in our neighborhood who were sitting outside, enjoying the evening with a nice cold beverage. Visiting with neighbors, coming out after a long, cold winter. There are certainly going to be challenges for me this weekend. But I’m so much stronger now than this same weekend one year into my sobriety, even two.

For some reason, anniversaries of sobriety are hard for me. I get very anxious and squirmy. I’ve written about that on my one-year and two-year celebrations of my recovery. There’s great potential for “stinkin thinkin” as they say. Potential for me to think that I’ve made it this far and that now I would be okay “just having one drink.” Or potential to say that I’ve made it this long, that’s enough. Vivid memories of all the fun I had in NYC that weekend come rushing back. But so do the haunting visions of my hands shaking at lunch until I got a glass (or six) of wine in me and nearly throwing up on stage at a Broadway show (a story for another day). And I’ll never forget sitting on the street corner in New York, at four in the morning, finally admitting to my friend that I was an alcoholic. That same friend hasn’t missed a single day, now three years later, with the same text every morning checking on me. That’s pretty high up there on my gratitude list.

Other friends have continued to hold me up, support me and carry me when times got tough and the power of this cunning, baffling disease tried to overtake me. They wouldn’t let it. I’m grateful to them and especially to my sponsor, who is even able to simply sense when I am having a difficult time and shows up at my doorstep. And it goes without saying (obviously not if I’m saying it) that I couldn’t do this without the love and support of my family. To have my thirteen-year old daughter tell me that she’s proud of me means the world to me. Can you say gratitude?

Thanks for the comments on my blog pieces, the pats on the back and the kind words. And special thanks to the friend who pulled up yesterday while I was walking my youngest home from school and handed me a big, beautiful bouquet of flowers from her garden and a lovely handwritten note (yes, people actually still do that) of congratulations and encouragement. It meant a great deal to me and I’m very grateful for caring friends.

So I won’t lock myself away in my bedroom this weekend, pulling the covers over my head to avoid all the temptations. I’ll celebrate my son’s birthday today present, clear-headed, not hungover, and at peace. And I’ll remember it when I wake up tomorrow morning too.

Most of all, let’s not forget what this weekend is all about. A heartfelt thank you to those who have served our county and humbled remembrance of those who gave their lives. Freedom is way up there on my gratitude list too. Happy Memorial Day.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” — John F. Kennedy

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