"We learn to say thank you for these problems and feelings." - Melodie Beatty
The word "Gratitude" can irritate and often anger anyone in the throes of adversity. For parents of addicts gratitude is at first anathema.
What do I have to be thankful for? My child is lost. I am lost. My family is lost. The next thing you'll tell me to do is to start loving my daughter, praying for my son.
There are many ways for us to take that first step toward our recovery. Finding areas in your life to be grateful for is one of these.
When I began my recovery someone suggested I keep a Gratitude Journal on my nightstand and begin each day by rolling out of bed and writing down at least three things for which I was grateful.
That didn't work for me. At five in the morning, to be honest, the only thing I am grateful for is the ability to roll out of bed. I also found that my handwriting, virtually unreadable at midday, could be used as a model for a cipher when I attempt to put pen to paper in the wee hours of the morning.
When I finally fully embraced the gratitude journal idea I started by transcribing those three events, thoughts or people for which I was grateful during the hour or so each morning that I have carved out FOR ME prior to leaving for work. Many mornings these "gratitudes" make me smile. Some elicit calm reflection. Many times these postings reflect my awe of the Universe that the Great Creator has laid out before us.
I can be grateful for a person who is touching, or has touched my life in some profound way. I call these people angels, these people who helped to save my life, who continue to shepherd me along, keeping me out of the mire I can so easily create for myself.
I find myself grateful for a blue sky, for feeling better after a struggle with a cold or flu, for a robin citing on our flagpole outside. As I recovered from a recent hernia operation I went through some serious stages of gratitude!
Occasionally I write down the name of the son who has brought me to this place. I am grateful that he is in my life, I am grateful for the challenges and trials he has brought my way. These have helped me to become better, stronger, more … human.
It took me a long, long time to include him on those pages.
So many days were wasted not including him with "blue skies", "beautiful Spring day", and the name of his younger brother.
My gratitudes now take me to those places I'd rather not be: Sub-freezing mornings, struggles with my own imperfections, encounters on the road with angry people. These I am grateful for because I now know that along with the "daisies and butterflies" in my life, it can be adversity that carries me along my path to recovery.
I am grateful for the stumbling blocks. I am stumbling less, learning and laughing more.
I now see the Universe as a comic genius. Eventually as parents of addicts we realize the repeated punches to the gut we endure are invitations to change the way we live and the way we choose to go beyond mere existence.
And then, for no logical reason, we write "My son's violent outbursts" in our gratitude journal. We do this because we are no longer living to control, react against or protect from.
We're focusing on our lives. We look ahead and see an entirely new vista of possibilities.
Today as I layer up in preparation for my drive into work through the polar vortex I write, "Embrace the cold!"
These words put a smile on my face and it's a lot easier than fighting Mother Nature!