How to be Grateful in Recovery

Grateful and Sober

“You know, when I blew out my birthday candles this year I didn’t wish for anything…I simply said Thank You.”

BAM. Gratitude at its finest. Who says that? Who says I’m happy enough that there’s nothing else I need to wish for, not even on my birthday wish. A free wish! Well, a grateful alcoholic said those words to me.

We’ve all heard the saying that you can’t be resentful and grateful at the same time. In moments of hardship, it’s best to remember what we’re grateful for.

A month ago, a woman sat in front of me, broken and confused. She had another relapse under her belt and one more reason why AA wasn’t the answer. She wasn’t sure if sobriety was the right choice, but decided to give it a shot anyway. Not the half-measure, one-foot-in attempt she’d done in the past. She decided to give a real, honest effort at sobriety. One prayer later, she’d been given a sign that launched her into action.

See, gratitude is an action word. I hear that all the time, but what does it mean? What does it mean to be grateful and sober? How does someone become a grateful alcoholic or addict? I asked myself that question a million times in early sobriety. I’d hear people with some time talk about how grateful they were. WHY?! Didn’t they see where we were? We were stuck in South Florida, in a stuffy, little room littered with slogans like “Easy Does It.” There were E-Cigs being smoked the entire time, too! How could they be grateful?

For months this question plagued me. I didn’t understand! To me, grateful and sober clashed more than wearing pink and green. After I started to do some work on myself, after I developed a relationship with God, after I developed a relationship with sober people, my feelings began to change. Things I’d been sure of my entire life began to change. My reaction to life began to change. I began to become happy.

Not too long afterwards, I finally understood what it meant to be grateful and sober. The sentence my friend said, about simply saying “thank you” on her first sober birthday, hit me like a truck. Not only because it was an original saying I’d never heard before, although I did think it was so adorable! It hit me hard because I need to remember gratitude. As a recovering alcoholic and addict, I need to be reminded to be grateful for how good my life is today.

After being sober a few years, life has shown up. The pressure of being responsible adult has been filling me with fear lately. So, what does God do to shut me up? He places a newcomer in my life to remind me how exciting sobriety is. He places a newcomer in my life to remind me how wonderful life is and how the little things can make the best day ever. It’s experiences like this that make my sobriety worth more than anything in the world. Today, I’m grateful to be sober.

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