Everyone Says I Should Be Grateful.
But I don’t feel that way.
It is so difficult to be grateful for anything while you’re actively addicted. We notice negativity. Everything is confusing, nothing makes sense, we want to blame everyone else for our situation and nothing works out for us. Everything seems to be a giant disappointment. Resentment is at every turn.
“All I feel is anger, sadness, stress, and it’s all so uncontrollable.”
Then we come to treatment and recovery, and we expect everything to change–everything will go our way, people will act like we want them to, all of our hopes and dreams will come true and we will finally be where we should be. Where we planned to be. From now on, life will be easy.
Then we realize that we are powerless over external things.
We realize that sobriety is not everything we’d hoped for and it’s disappointing all over again. We realize that we are ultimately powerless over people, places and things. And what’s worse, our negative feelings are more acute than ever.
“How am I going to cope with life?
Every day is an unbearable struggle.
Everything sucks. People suck. Life sucks.”
It is easy to focus on all the things—the large and the small things– that disturb us, that anger us, and what we lack. It’s easy to do as it has become comfortable to be negative in our addiction.
Time passes. We gain new knowledge. We begin to understand that our world is different and we have to stop comparing ourselves to others. We recognize that we are powerless over external things and we learn how to deal with that.
We start to look at the ‘positives,’ the things that make us happy—the large and the small things– we start to recognize that our positives far outweigh our negatives. It can even come down to the simples of things, the humble little pieces of our lives we ignored before…
“I was wallowing in negativity and then my
roommate pointed out that we had running
water and that we could safely drink it! I was like,
‘Duh! I’ve been taking so much for granted.’”
Then we make peace with life as it comes. There is much to be grateful for in life and in sobriety. We have gained clarity of thought, have been restored to health, and reintegrate into daily, productive society. We have made new friends, formed a strong foundation of support in AA fellowships and have learned coping skills we so badly needed.
“New friends wonder why I am so positive—
why I notice the little things, and why I am
grateful for the details of life. Old friends
and allies know why, and I am also grateful for them.”
We notice, realize, then recognize and then make peace with the realities of life. Life is then richer, easier, and day-by-day, when we adopt an attitude of gratitude.