Years ago, in early recovery, when I was in the midst of feeling sorry for myself because something didn’t go exactly as I had planned or because I was having a hard time finding work or a date, I got on this negative track–The “pity pot” as many in recovery refer to it.
It wasn’t just an internal state, I wanted to share my negativity with the world. I wanted a “pity party.”
I wasn’t thinking about drinking, I was just unhappy. I wanted more. But then again, I didn’t know what I wanted. Needless to say, I was a bundle of raw, unbridled emotions, mostly about me; selfishness and self-centeredness is a common condition of many addicts and alcoholics. I was no different, but I thought I was. After all I had six months of sobriety I shouldn’t be feeling like this right?
I felt like I was like being in a deep pit with muddy walls. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get out of that pit of despair. I called my sponsor to whine. He asked me point blank, have you written a “gratitude list”?
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Do you have a roof over your head? A job? Are you sober?”
I nodded and grunted, “Yes.”
He continued, “Then you have a lot to be grateful for. Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down all the things you are grateful for. Then go help someone else.”
I did as he suggested and it worked.I got out of my funk.
As I wrote, my attitude began to shift. Instead of thinking about all that I didn’t have, I began to become grateful for all that I did have.
Why am I writing about this? Because the holidays are a time of joy for many, but for some, they are a time of strained nerves.
On the eve of Thanksgiving I desperately want to feel more grateful than I do. Yet I am consumed by negativity. I long for joy; for the company of family over a delicious meal. Instead, I’m consumed by thoughts of all I want to have, be, and do race through my head. So much to do, so little time. Why is there so much chaos in the world around me? I want to retire, but I don’t have enough set aside to____.
My mental pit of negativity could go on and on if I want to keep digging.
Someone once asked rhetorically, “How do you get out of a hole? Stop digging.”
Therefore, I’m going to stop digging and write a gratitude list.
If you’re reading this, I hope you find it helpful.
I’m grateful for…
- More money than month
- A fuel efficient car
- The ability to complete a full sentence
- The ability to take care of myself
- Eyes to see
- Ears to hear
- Nose to smell
- Body to feel
- A wife who loves me
- Love of my wife, kids, friends and family
- People who care
- TP for morning movement
- Running water
- A hot shower on a cold fall day
- A home in a quiet, clean neighborhood
- Good bosses
- Gainful employment
- Willingness to laugh at myself
- Warm socks
- A down comforter
- Good coffee
- An I phone to listen to music while I write
- Ability to cook
- Willingness to admit my faults
- Willingness to learn
- Insatiable curiosity
- Ability to read
- College educated
- and so, much more…
I feel better already.
In 2013 , I was fortunate enough to visit the actual landing spot of the Pilgims in the town of Plymouth. The featured image is the actual Plymouth rock. Below is a bit of the history and part of why we celebrate thanksgiving.
Be safe and let your family know you love them.
Happy Thanksgiving all!