I spoke with my AA sponsor today on the phone. We were reviewing some of the negative feelings I have about myself. He wanted me to reflect on what sorts of things I say to myself right before I drank – namely the things I thought right before I relapsed this last time (And I really do want it to be the last time). It’s really not something I enjoy doing – as some of you might remember me discussing this from my last blog. In fact, reviewing the negative things I say to myself has a dramatically negative effect on my psyche and I have one word to describe it: Hilda.
But, my sponsor has a point. And the point he is wanting me to focus on is the validity and truth of the things I say to myself. He mentioned, I might be believing things that aren’t true. I expressed that I recognize that our perceptions easily become our realities and one of the things I struggle with is that I don’t do well when others call me the things I call myself. This is the essence of what occurred this last time. My wife and I had an argument and some of the vitriol that she said about me are the exact things I hate about myself. Effectively, she reinforced all the negative attitudes I have about myself. It sounds like I’m blaming her for my relapse, but I’m not. I made that decision and no one else did. I am responsible. No, I am mentioning it for the point of emphasizing what my sponsor was trying to get at – are these things I say to myself, actually true?
Honestly? They are not. I have made bad decisions, but they are not reflective of who I am as a person. They are not reflective of my true values and principles. They are not my truths – as much as I have tried to make them my truths. My sponsor reminded me that the problem with alcoholism is that it’s main impact is a that it is a malady of the mind. That is where it attacks. Sure, the phenomena of craving is the physiological characteristic of the disease (wow! Am I coming to accept that this is, in fact, a disease?), but it’s main condition is the one that exists in the mind.
Then he went on to remind me that one of the ways to correct that thinking is to make gratitude lists. When I decided to get sober, he suggested I keep gratitude lists in a written journal and do it every day. I was doing that and I was writing in it every day, and finding things I can be thankful for existing in my life. Sometimes those things were simply a warm meal, when I was struggling to find things. It was helping.
Well, one of the results of my relapse is I tore my journal to shreds. I tore my Big Book to shreds. I tore my “12 and 12” to shreds and chucked everything in the trash. I threw it all away, because at the time I was fed up. Granted, I was acting like a petulant and spoiled little brat too, but I was fed up. Although, I replaced my Big Book by going to a meeting the day before I came to work, I am now on the jobsite and have no access to going to the store to buy a new notebook to physically write my lists. So, I’m going to share my list with all of you, as a way to physically put it down.
So, thank you all for indulging me, and without further adieu, here are the things I can think about putting on my gratitude list today:
- A desire to have a relationship with a Higher Power or God. I have no idea what I’m doing here and I know I approach this with a ton of bias and ill-feelings, but I have come to accept that a Higher Power is important to me.
- I am thankful for Alcoholics Anonymous. I have been frustrated, but in the past four or five years, even in recognizing I had a problem with alcohol, I have only been sober when I am involved in the program, attending meetings and working with a sponsor.
- I am thankful for my children. I don’t speak about them much on my blog – especially because I do discuss a lot of sexual things, personal things and general things that I don’t even want a connection to what I see as my inherent flaws and how my children are. I love them and have always felt a sense of honor at being their dad.
- Believe it or not, I have a sense of gratitude for my wife. I don’t want to tarnish this gratefulness with any of the problems that exist in our marriage, but she has brought me joy in many ways.
- I’m thankful for living in Colorado. Our mountains are majestic and beautiful!
- I’m thankful for my education. I never thought I would ever finish my degree when I was younger, so having finished my B.S. in Chemical Engineering when I was 30, felt awesome!
- I’m thankful for my parents.
- I’m thankful for my online friends. So often and in so many ways, so many of them have helped me with my struggles. So many of you have kept me fighting, even when I couldn’t fight on my own. You are blessings to me (oh my gosh! I’m getting goose bumps and tears in my eyes writing this) and I can never forget the advice, encouragement, help and support I have received from my online community – here and on Twitter (believe it or not!).
- I’m thankful for having a home.
- I’m thankful for the job I have that allows me to continue to support my family.
- I’m thankful for my sponsor. Although, I mentioned him quite a bit above, he is certainly a part of this list.
I can’t think of anything else right now, but maybe I’ll continue to write some gratitude lists until I can get another hand written journal.
I’m sober today. And today is all that matters!