Honest, I started thinking about this without even remembering that Thanksgiving was coming up. When I began to consider a title, however, it dawned on me. Then, being the sort of person I am (read: addict/alcoholic) I immediately thought, “How trite! I don’t want to publish a gratitude post in November!”
Then the silliness of the whole thing caught up with me and I had to laugh at myself. Gratitude is gratitude, no matter where (or when) you find it, and it’s hard enough for some of us addicts to find our share. That makes it worth talking about any time, not just as an adjunct to an overeating/football frenzy.
What got me started was looking at today’s Wundermap:
I was thinking what a rough Winter this is looking to be, and about how lucky I am to be living in South Florida. (Of course we have to keep this in perspective; in the Summer I wish I lived in the Pacific Northwest.) Anyway…that got me to thinking about how lucky I am to just be living.
I’ve had multiple near-death experiences in cars, airplanes and elsewhere when sober, and I can’t begin to count (and probably don’t remember) most of the incidents that occurred when I wasn’t. I know I drove drunk and stoned, taught firearms and self-defense classes under the influence of the drugs that allowed me to function when I couldn’t drink, and heaven only knows what else. Never hurt anyone or got busted, but OMG! Fortunately, I quit flying before my alcoholism got into high gear, or there’s little chance I would have survived beyond those early years.
Without quesation, I was alive to celebrate the beginning of my 8th decade a few weeks ago because I stopped drinking and drugging. It wasn’t my choice, and the wise decision of the boss who forced me into treatment instead of firing me saved not only my life but that of my wife, who followed me two weeks later. I didn’t get sober from alcohol and drugs by my own decision, even though I knew by then that I had a major problem that was going to kill me. It took the right combination of pressure and opportunity, and without it there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I’d be dead. I’m not a believer in the religious sense, but if by some chance there is a God or Gods, he she or they had to have a hand in it. I sure didn’t. (Although I’ll cop to the willingness, for sure!)
The same is true of my other addictions and issues that cropped up later. It took a powerful slap upside the head to get my attention — another huge blessing — but the results have been even better in terms of putting down the demons that have plagued me for all but a very few short years of my life. Getting clean simply put me into condition to do the work. It took me nearly a quarter of a century longer to get off my butt and actually do it.
Be as thorough as you can on that 4th Step, my friends. It’s the one that kills the denial, but first you have to be excruciatingly honest with yourself — and that’s what we spent all those years avoiding in one way or another. It’s tough, but the benefits are incalculable!
So anyway…gratitude? Oh yeah, I’ve got it in spades! If you find yourself snickering at “another gratitude meeting,” just think about it. Are YOU as grateful as you ought to be? And if not, what are you ignoring?
Could be that character defect is the one that will end up killing you.
So good to hear from you, and to know that you got something useful out of my (electronic) scribblings. Shel says “Hi,” and we both send our Thanksgiving greetings to you and the family. Plan to see you at Space Coast in January, lord willin’ and th’ creek don’t rise!
I am grateful I’ve woken up to your blog and the thoughts you post here. I never drank much by most people’s standards, and I found myself snickering recently when I heard a very shocked NPR reporter say that new medical guidelines denote more than 8 drinks weekly as “excessive drinking.” A drink being defined as 5 oz. of wine or 12 oz of beer. The implication was that we’d have to be Puritans to adhere to that. I thought, no, that definition of excessive works for me. The less I imbibe, the more alert I am to how alcohol changes the people I observe all around me, and I realize now that I was never immune to those changes, though I somehow thought I was. Mantra: You don’t put a depressant on top of depression. Keep that gratitude coming, man.
Thanks for the post. I always appreciate any expression of Gratitude. I often find that Im most filled with gratitude when I recognize grace given to me and at work in my life. It usually comes out as joy and joy can’t be contained. It begs to be shared and when I shared it it compounds on itself. I usually hear that a problem shared is a problem halved, but the flip side of that is a happiness/joy shared is a happiness/joy multiplied. I mean I gotta give it away to keep it, right? What a great process. Thanks again…