November 13

GRATITUDE MONTH: DAY 13: “Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.” ― John Ortberg

When we first come into this thing, and in the life preceding that time, we are so completely self-obsessed that it is scary.

We do not know how to relate to others, except through the lens of our own self-obsession. Others exist only to serve my needs. That is true from infancy through the time I really become aware of how my life is not the only one in the Cosmos.

My concepts of “relationship” with others are so horribly damaged that I cannot grasp anything even somewhat healthy. While many in my life may be thrilled to see me stop drinking and using, it will take some deep work before I can relate to others in healthy ways, if I ever can.

The more trauma and broken-ness that surrounds my life prior to recovery, the harder I will need to work to interact with the world around me in healthier fashion.

This takes great work. For me, it took so much work that it was many years before I knew how to have healthy relationships with others. This, of course, depends on their wellness as well. When I relate to those with whom I work in treatment, there is always the distance of professional and client.

When it is in relationship with sponsees and newer members of the fellowship, it will be on the basis of the work we have done over time. If we are not working together on recovery, there is no basis for that relationship and it withers and dies.

When I am with friends, I will bond with them, depending on the amount of emotional availability in that dynamic. It varies. We are all available for different levels of relationship, depending on who we are and where we are.

Gratitude is the key, for me, that I can find my right relationship with the world around me. It gives me a sense of how fragile life can be, how precious are those things that so many take for granted. They will cry and whine when things are removed, but chances are great; especially for addicts, that they did not properly appreciate those things in the first place.

If you do not express your gratitude for ALL that is in your life, there will not be an authentic experience of that thing when it is here…you will have missed it, long before it is gone away. To fully experience life, we must be present fully to what is going on. The ONLY way I have found to do this is in full practice of active gratitude and the sitting still with that I get when I practice fully.

Putting myself aside to recognize OTHER and LIFE is so important! Most addicts will never achieve this; and they are constantly unhappy because they miss so much of the value and love they could have had. I hope this is not your story!

Published by: Kelly

I am a therapist and counselor with long-term recovery from addictions and personal trauma. My writing reflects these experiences and the road I have traveled in 12-Step recovery settings, along with the work I have done for over 30 years in the field. My love of dolphins includes the stories of them being healers in places all over the world. I long to offer every broken spirit and body the experience of a healing hug. May my words and stories inform, uplift and delight your spirit and soothe your weary heart.

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