Last night John and I sat down, took deep breaths, and looked at what life on life’s terms has meant for us in the past six months. His cancer diagnosis, the anxiety of waiting for appointments and dates, surgery and recovery (a bit more complicated than we had thought it would be.) His hospitalization for pneumonia. Leaving a temporary job that had become beloved. A busted boiler/water heater. Learning that John’s brother had pancreatic cancer that was metastasizing rapidly. A flight that included top-dollar pricing, delays, rerouting and not being with Bill as he died.
But, the last six months have also included: sobriety.
And sobriety is a priceless gift. Because of sobriety, we have not had to pick up a drink or a drug. We are able to not only cope, but also to celebrate the joy that never leaves us.
- v We have the love of our families, who like to spend time with us and with whom we laugh.
- v We have sponsors and friends to talk to and rely on, and they listen and give comfort.
- v We love to read good books—fiction, non-fiction and program literature--and we talk about the ideas others share.
- v We manage our money and don’t spend it recklessly, so we can pay our way.
- v We have each other.
- v We attend meetings regularly, where we are known and where we know others.
- v We have faith in our Higher Power and, as we read in The Twenty-Four Hour Book, feel deeply secure in the fundamental goodness and purpose of the universe.
Years ago, my sponsor taught me about the benefit of writing gratitude lists, about how seeing that those words on paper makes a positive impression on the mind and heart. A gratitude list is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” has been fundamental to my recovery. “There is always something to be grateful for,” is a message I tell my sponsees, for a grateful heart never drinks.
Sometimes I write an alphabetic gratitude list (A is for AA, B is for our dog Bridget, C is for curly hair, D is for Dancing…) and sometimes as I’m falling asleep, I just think about my list. I make rules for myself like: only names of people or nothing I thought about the night before. Sometimes we just look around the room or wherever it is that we find myself and try to find a few things there that we’re particularly happy about.
It’s a way of thinking. It’s a way of life. And gratitude is a wellspring of energy and stability.