Practicing Gratefulness


Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there’s always something we could be grateful for.- Barry Neil Kaufman

When you have destroyed your life to the point of what you think is unrepairable, where do you go? How do you even begin? What steps do you begin to take? Desperation drove me to do ‘whatever’ was suggested is my story. Even making gratitude lists!!! I’ve heard of these, what I would have referred to in the past, “stupid lists” since I arrived at AA in 2004. But never would I have thought these fluffy, psychobabble, silly things would be helpful. I’ve been such a cynic. I have called myself a realist, but in truth I have been a pessimist. I prepared for the worst because it WAS coming, nothing good was coming….. that happened to other people.

So when my sponsor suggested that I make a daily list and send it to her and she’d send me hers, in this new journey in sobriety…..I could have rolled my eyes all the way down the street. I was so damn annoyed!!! But when you are as beat as I was… you just do it anyway. Her lists were nothing short of amazing and wonder. Mine, on the other hand, coffee, my astringent (they were afraid I was gonna drink the crap in rehab so I just got it back), my pillow, and talking to my son. At least I could see something.

But it did get better, I got better. Lots of stuff happened and that would be entirely too dang long for this particular blog but I began to see things. I began to actually look for things throughout the day to be grateful for. A call from a friend. A beautiful sunset. A day without a migraine. A patient not cussing me out or hitting me (I worked in a fully locked unit so let’s just say my patients were a trip and sometimes I was the ride). A day without a fight with my husband. God’s grace. Becoming conscious of His Power, hell becoming conscious. My eyes were beginning to open to the wonder of life through the eyes of gratitude, from these little lists. That’s not all of course but I do believe now in hindsight they were a game changer for me.

Then the bottom dropped out about the time I thought I was catching my stride. After a month and half of inpatient rehab and 5 1/2 months in sober living I was going to move back home closer to my son and husband but into my own apartment. But like I said, what do you do when you have damaged your life beyond repair? What happened to me is I was handed divorce papers. I was heart broken. But I changed nothing in my daily routine. I continued to pray, meditate, talk to others that I trusted and most of all I continued to look for things everyday to be grateful for. Just like the quote says, “no matter what is going on outside of us, there is always something to be grateful for”.

I became grateful for God’s plan for my life. That all I had to ‘do’ was the moment that I was actually ‘doing’ at the present second, and knew that I could handle that. I couldn’t possibly handle everything I was going through, so I just didn’t. I just breathed it out. I focused on just what was good. Not what I messed up, not what I could no longer fix, not what I could have done differently in the past, not what was going to happen in the future, not what I wanted or thought I needed…… I focused on the moment I was in, mindfulness and being grateful. Grateful for everything that I had been through, the lessons I had learned, the mistakes I had made and the truth I had learned from them, the memories that we had shared good and bad because that energy was always and forever expended between the two of us, for who holds the future because it is far better off in His hands that it would ever be in mine. There were dark moments, sad moments, hard moments, and painful moments but they were all temporary although they didn’t ‘feel’ that way at the time.

“No matter how hard you try, you cannot get rid of darkness because it does not exist. It is nothing but the absence of light. In order to effect darkness you must do something with light, because the light is the only thing that actually exists.” -Teal

Developing the practice of gratitude in my daily life, for me, was one of the many things that brought light into my darkness. Not just the list though, that’s way too simple. Being grateful for something is more than just an attitude towards something, it takes action, awareness, care, concern, compassion, responsibility, respect, attentiveness….. get my drift??? It has paid huge dividends for me by bringing light into my darkness. I had no idea that gratitude could be such a game changer or at least it has been for me. It has immensely helped me and 4 months later after I thought I might just die without “him” I am once again whole. Completely grateful for the entire journey and hopeful for what is to come.

Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude. – A.A. Milne

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-Big Girl Panties


Resentment is the number one offender for us chronic alcoholic’s like myself, that’s what it says anyway. In fact, the Big Book states that it’s SO BAD that it compares it to death 4 times in one paragraph: grave, fatal, shut ourselves off from the Sunlight of the Spirit(that in itself is death), insanity returns and we drink and with us to drink is to die. You could actually split that up into 5 times if you’d  like, but regardless of the way you count it, it’s just bad!!!

They say it destroys us, first spiritually and it’s all downhill from there. We run on self-will, though WE don’t think so, which is just all ego. Which just means that we won’t listen to anyone telling us that says we are operating based on our emotions, self-centered fears or delusions. It will erode our spiritual connection with our Higher Power and our fellows.

So what happens when you know you are the target of someone else’s resentment? What do you do when someone continues to retailiate against you? Pot shots, hateful words, malicious gossip, snide and contemptuous comments….. But you are Awake in Spirit enough to know that their only hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience. What do you do now? That’s what they call “when then rubber meets the road”! Do you put the Spiritual Program of Action to work in your life that you talk about in meetings or do you subscribe to you deepest darkest insecurities, protect your pride and take matters in the hands of self?

“…..we begin to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong, and then we approach true tolerance and see what real love for our fellows actually means. It will become more and more evident as we go forward that it is pointless to become angry, or to get hurt by people who, like us, are suffering from the pains of growing up.” 12 and 12 pp 92

I was told early on in my sobriety that I can chose mercy or justice. The literature tells me that I am basically incompetent of telling the difference between justified and unjustified anger(though my head would argue that point even today).  I was also told that it’s either justice for you and justice for me or mercy for you and mercy for me. Since I am extremely grateful for the mercy I have been given, I guess my choice is really a no-brainer!! I have no right to “feel” justified (because feelings aren’t facts anyways). So I must chose mercy for you.

Please don’t think that I’m some sort of Saint, it took me 3 days of meditation, reading literature and consultation with my sponsor and a few other spiritual advisors to come up with this conclusion. But the moment I did, a peace came over me!!! I typically hate character building and walking through uncomfortable situations but today, I’m ok with this. My mind may change tomorrow😊

In the last analysis, this person needs love, compassion, forgiveness, and the hand of AA. Sometimes the still suffering alcoholic is sitting “in the rooms” right next to you and let’s just face it…… Sometime it’s you or me for that matter!!!

We all need love, no matter how damaged we are or ate up with self we are or how unlovably insane we behave because I believe that is the will of my Creator.  Trust God, Clean House, and try, to the best of mu ability, to practice the principles in ALL my affairs!!! No matter what I fail at in life there is always a step to clean it up and I thank AA for that and I thank AA for my God!

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