Grateful – not my natural state
Being grateful for what I have or for what has or has not happened to me is not my natural state. Even today with 11 years of sobriety I need to work on my gratitude on a daily basis.
When I arrived in Alcoholics Anonymous I could not comprehend what the word grateful really meant, I had it confused with just being thankful. I would often express my thanks when I received something of benefit to me, but I never felt truly grateful, always I was not satisfied and I would want more. I certainly never experienced a feeling of gratitude for any alcoholic drink, even when someone would buy me that first one that I always craved so much.
On arriving in AA I did not immediately feel grateful for what was on offer, but I knew deep inside that this was what I needed. I knew that I was in big trouble even though I had not had a drink for 8 months. I knew that my state of thinking only about myself and what I can get out of life was going to take me back to feeling that I have no choice but to take that first drink.
It was suggested by my temporary sponsor to start to write a gratitude list that night, he even recommended that I try to be grateful for the things that I did not have and when things did not go my way. At the time this seemed a little silly, but I did it anyway. Today I can see why this is a good idea for an alcoholic of my type.
I am grateful that I wanted what AA had to offer, and that I have never felt the need to question my sponsor's suggestions. This initial desperation and attitude has enabled me to remain grateful and the result is that today I am a changed man. I know that if any level of complacency is evident in my life it is because I have ceased being grateful for what AA has given me. Being grateful reminds me that I did not achieve sobriety on my own, but it was through AA, the love of my sponsor and finding a God of my understanding in my life.
11 years ago I was told by my sponsor not to sell myself short and Go for Gold in my recovery, I am grateful that by working through the 12 steps and through being of service to others that this has been my experience. Of course it is easy to feel grateful when things are going the way that I want, but through my changed attitude on a daily basis, I am able to see how what I want is not always good for me and as a result I can remain grateful through the trials and low spots in my recovery.
So every night I need to ask myself "what have I done today to deserve my feeling of gratitude?"