I’ve been to approximately 4,565,625 meetings since spring 2007. I heard then and I continue to hear now, people often apologize for suggesting gratitude as topic for a discussion or sharing meeting following the painful interminably long 15 second pause after a topic is invited by the chair. Yet, I’ve rarely heard groans. It seems to me that collectively alcoholics in recovery are grateful every day with no need to apologize for our gratitude. As newcomer, I felt grateful for the relief of no longer fighting the daily proposition that “all of my efforts to stop drinking had failed” as reflected in Step 1 of The Humanist Steps.
Lately, I’ve been aware that most nights I go to bed free from worry and shame about things I’ve done that day and I wake with the same. At the urging of my sponsor, I’ve written a gratitude daily from the start. It’s mostly pretty simple and mundane. It might be rote, but it has almost always begun with ‘I’m grateful to be sober today” because after I meditate and write, I feel grateful for the peace I feel, even if it’s momentary. I’m grateful that now I can find peace and touch gratitude when I need.
Gratitude for me starts with seeing, feeling, touching, tasting, hearing – awareness. When I became dependent on drinking alcohol to cope, I cut myself off from awareness of the present moment, either by numbing my senses by drinking, or being completely consumed by thoughts of drinking. It frequently arises from memories, resurfacing for me from newcomers in meetings that there was once upon a time, a time when I was consumed with urges to escape in a bottle. Many of the poems that I write, especially the most spare Verse such as these, focus on awareness and they reflect gratitude even on some of my worst days and for that I can be grateful today.
A hawk dancing above
Fills my heart with love
The gentle rise and fall of the belly of a sleeping dog
So easy to not notice yet so beautiful to watch
Memories of little diapered boys in footie pajamas
This my ever so remarkable little life
A refuge of peace
A reservoir of hope
For all of the desperate times in my life thus far
I bow in gratitude ten thousand times ten
About the Author
Robert B. is a sober alcoholic in Madison, WI participating in AA and AlAnon at Fitchburg Serenity Club. He has been sober since April 21, 2007. He also began writing and sharing poetry on Facebook during his first year sober as part of his recovery from alcohol dependency, acute anxiety and chronic depression. He has found that creativity expressed primarily through writing poetry and playing various stringed instruments helped him heal and thrive.