I am Grateful, Thank-you

I remember being at meetings early in recovery and people said that they were grateful to be there, grateful for their disease, grateful that they got to be in recovery. I didn’t get it. I wanted to slap them up the side of the head to knock some sense into them. I sure couldn’t find anything to be grateful about! I had basically sentenced myself to a life of boredom and gloom. Yes, the party was over. But I really didn’t want it to stop.

Flash forward a year and my group asked me what I would like engraved on my first year medallion. Without hesitating, I said ‘Gratitude’. Now I was the face that some new guy wanted to slap. So what changed?

My attitude.

The process of going through the twelve steps of recovery changed me. I saw that everything in my past was just part of a larger puzzle that ended with me finding myself and resetting my personality to someone that I could look in the mirror and say that I liked. It was my disease that brought me to the point where I was finally able to learn some tough lessons about life. By doing the inventory and making amends, I now had a base; I knew who I was and could work from there. After all, when you hit bottom, things can only get better.

One of the best things that my sponsor shared with me is this:

“There is no room for resentment, anger or fear in a heart that is full of gratitude.”

If I live with gratitude I am out of myself. I see what has been done by others. I know that alone, I couldn’t have risen above that lowest sense of self where I found myself the morning before my first meeting. At first I was grateful that I could make it 24 hours without, then I was grateful that I could make it for 24 hours without thinking about it. Gradually I became grateful for what I still had and for what I was being given. Like the heart of the Grinch at Christmas, my sense of thankfulness grew to where I could say I am grateful that I have the disease of addiction because it has brought me to where i am today.

I speak gratitude daily. I write it in my journal. When I am feeling low, I make gratitude lists.  I even make them when I am feeling wonderful! I like going to gratitude meetings. I like to find things to be grateful for when I am alone and with friends. I do it because it really works for me. When my heart is in that place, the troubles I think I have vanish. My need to be ‘right’ doesn’t seem as important. And I know that tomorrow will work out fine because I can look in the mirror and see that in spite of everything I did in the past, I am still here, carefully looked over by my Higher Power.

To my friend from the USA and everyone, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving Day. Gratitude isn’t for the month of November or a single day; it is too wonderful for just a day. I give thanks everyday!  Gracias, Amén!

Mother's Day Bird Gratitude Twitter Luck Thank You

Mother’s Day Bird Gratitude Twitter Luck Thank You

Just Say It!

“There is value in stating the obvious. What is obvious to me is not obvious to others. What seems simple and clear to you is confusing to me.”  Teresa Colón

We live in a world where everyone presumes to know about everything and everyone else.  We think we know what the next person is thinking. And why not? We live our lives connected to social networks, email, TV and telephones.  Viral videos circle the globe in the time it takes to boil an egg. We work and socialize with like minded people so we all think alike, right?

My_Wife_and_My_Mother-In-Law_(Hill).svgWe just don’t see things from the same perspective. My past and my priorities cause me to focus on things that you don’t because of your perspective. What for me is ‘common sense’ might not be the same for you. While the article that caught my attention (link below) has its focus more on the business/work environment, it is also very true in any relationship. I can’t read your mind and you can’t read mine so please tell me what you are thinking.  Not telling me will lead to errors in judgement, anger and resentments. You see the young woman, and I see the old lady.

Here in Costa Rica we have teeny ants that appear out of nowhere to feast on even a single crystal of sugar. Obviously you don’t leave the sugar out. But not everyone knows that. Guests in my home are blissfully unaware of the little critters. I try to make a point about this whenever I pull the sugar bowl from the fridge. My ‘obvious’ isn’t yours. If I don’t tell you, you’ll never know.

Ask couples living who’ve just starting living together about the importance of stating the obvious. Hanging the roll of toilet paper with the end over the top seems a no brainer, unless of course you have a cat. Do you take the garbage out the night before or early morning is a question of how adaptive the racoons and monkeys are in your neighbourhood. Leaving the keys in the deadbolt at night might just save a life in an earthquake. Don’t feed a dog chicken bones. I know these things, but you might not because your experience may be very different from mine.

State your expectations. Many a family trip has been ruined because what the parents want for their children is way different from what their children have in mind. An open discussion before leaving on the trip about the various details can resolve many issues before they even arise. There’s a whole generation between parents and children and that gap still exists between adult children and their parents. This makes a world of difference in perspective and values.

It just make things a whole lot easier if we stated what we think is the ‘obvious’ because: ‘it isn’t’.  Human relations are hard enough without adding to the burden by leaving things unsaid, by making assumptions and by having expectations. As the saying goes, when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME. Just say it.

Here’s Teresa’s complete article from Medium.com:

What’s My Part?

How my ego likes to tell me that the things I do are justified. It’s a tit-for-tat world so if you did that to me, then I will retaliate. Of course, I’m a master at being passive aggressive, so you may not know I have ‘got you back’, but I’ll know. I’ll make you pay! You can’t do that to me! I have my pride and I will not take this sitting down!

Wow. I may not have put those words together in my head but that is the gist of what I often feel when I believe that I had been wronged. I have read in our recovery literature that whenever I am disturbed by something that happened to me, I need to look at my part in the matter and at my response to the other person involved.

I remember hearing a fellow talk at a meeting about holding a resentment for many years against a fellow in the program to whom he had lent $30,000. The man didn’t make payments, and as time went on it became apparent that he would probably never have the means to pay back the money. The fellow went on to say that he had to look at what ‘his part’ was in this situation because it was eating him up inside.  He felt anger and resentment every time he saw the other fellow. He had basically given it up as a bad investment, but he still carried a deep grudge against the fellow.  What was his part?

” I lent him the money,” he said. “I knew when I handed him the cheque that he had a history of bad debt, that his track record in business, even in sobriety was shaky, but I lent it to him anyway.” Once he saw his own part in the arrangement, he was able to let go of his resentment. He had made a big error in judgement by making the loan. He was honest enough to admit that he probably won’t ever be a good friend of this fellow again, but he could forgive the other guy and forgiven himself. And he no longer avoids him or refuses to say hello to him at meetings.

In my recovery things will happen that will disturb me, upset me, bother me. My program tells me, by using Step 10 and Step 11 to look at the situation in a way that I see the real ‘why’ I feel the way I do. For the fellow above it was a deep hit to his pride and ego to admit that he had made an mistake. I have to put pride and ego aside as well. Like the childhood saying that says when I point my finger at you there are three pointing back at me I need to shift the focus of my disturbance onto me. I am involved in every interaction with others. Admitting my part in it is a big step in my liberation from the poison of anger and resentment.

 

To my friends who follow my blog: www.recoveryriver.org A couple of months ago Facebook changed its policy and the blog doesn’t automatically post to Facebook anymore. I invite you to click on the “Follow” button. That way you will receive an email with every one of the blog posts.

Thank you.