GRATITUDE: A Choice, An Attitude, A Way of Life, A Feeling

Sobriety is its own reward: so said my first mentor.

I really got it, because I recall that being really happy, in my first year of recovery that I was not drinking.

I was immensely relived to discover, also, that what I had was a disease; not a curse and that I was not the devil incarnate.

Towards the end of my drinking, which in all honesty was somewhere in the beginning of my drinking, I had already noticed that I was not a normal drinker. Yes, I loved drinking, getting high and showing off to my pals that I could drink anyone under the table. However, pretty soon, I am the one they found under the table.

On coming Home, I was really sick and tired of the post drinking incidents: the fights, the moneylessness, the craving for booze and not being able to afford it, the fights, did I say the fights? If all those could be taken away, then I could be left alone to drink in peace.

Until the Return Home


When I came Home, I really wasn’t coming to stop drinking. You see, me, I did not have a drinking problem. What I had was an after-drinking problem; and if that was sorted, then I could well be on my way and leave the rest of you who seemed to have real problems to sort them out without any interruptions.

It all started with the acceptance that I am an alcoholic. Well, acceptance sounds so gentle.

“Please admit and accept your powerlessness over alcohol and all shall be well…”

“Admit that your life is unmanageable, and all shall be well…”

I now accept that I am an alcoholic; but that acceptance was anything but gentle.

I fought, I denied, I hedged, I bargained, I got depressed, I raged and raged; and then I accepted. I was too sick and too tired to fight anymore anyway. They took my drink away from me, and it felt like something had died within me. Yes, they told me it to keep away from it a day at a time. What they were not saying but I heard very loudly was that forever is made up of many many days at a time. They were saying I will never drink again.

This is where I chose to be grateful. I am grateful for being an alcoholic and for the fellowship that I depend and rely on for the great life that I enjoy today.

Why I call it a choice is because I could also have chosen to go back to where I came from: the misery, the shame, the guilt, the mess. After all, you people were not like me. You seemed so elegant, sharing your lives and world with me, sharing deep and profound stuff and always always, and at times irritatingly so, being grateful. Until the Return Home, I didn’t think anyone could be as grateful as you people.

That choice not only bought me freedom; but it has also kept my stay simple and purposeful. I may not be responsible for the disease but I am responsible for my recovery. My first taste of responsibility was in the return. And all I had to do was to choose and it begun with gratitude.

The choice to stay was followed by working my recovery programme. Now, it is not easy. In fact, it is painful at times. Developing the willingness to work my programme meant that, on a daily basis, I needed to choose being grateful. For instance, when working on my personal moral inventory, there were some instances that people had, indeed, wronged me and I felt that my anger was justifiable whichever way you looked at it. And on recalling the instance as I wrote, the anger resurfaced. I called my mentor who listened patiently; and when I thought he would understand my anger he asked me one question.

“Thank you for sharing that. Tell me, do you feel like drinking as a result of your anger?”

“Heck No!” I answered.

“Well, there you go. That is something you would normally, as an active alcoholic, drink over. Yet you didn’t even think about it.”

“You could be grateful that now, in sobriety, you can express your anger in a healthy way without having to pick up a drink.”

I actually saw that in every situation it’s possible to have something to be grateful for. I just need to look for it. And this, then, has developed into a habit, an attitude in fact. Gratitude becomes an attitude.

That there’s nothing not to be grateful for was an amazing discovery for me.

Practising this attitude on a continuous basis I have found that not only does it keep life simple but also light. It gets rid of the baggage of the past, which sounds sneakily like garbage: the regrets; the doubts; the guilt; the shame; the fears; the wasted and lost opportunities.

It now becomes a way of life.

Living sober is an adventure and no two days are alike. The days of miracles are with us and every so often something happens that just tells me I am on the right track. New people come into my life; new insights come in the most unimaginable ways. I also fell in love for the first time in 21 years whilst in recovery. I watch people transform right in front of my eyes and what a sight it is to see.

And then, only then, do I feel grateful for the magic of sobriety.

The feeling of gratitude, though fleeting, is the most powerful and is what reinforces ALL that gratitude is for me and my life; as a choice, an attitude and a way of life.

Advertisements

Trust: the cost, the benefit

Recently, I woke up to the realization that I don’t trust. It’s not as bad as it used to be but however, it is more fundamental. This is because my whole being, my whole life, literally, rests on this.

I don’t trust that:

That I will ever get out of this financial rut no matter what I do

That I will find rest in this lifetime

That I will find order in my life

That I will have consistent progress in my life

That I will make it

I will be alive much longer if my life continues like this. It’s tiring

That I will have that relationship to die for with a woman who is ALL woman and I ALL man in her life

His redeeming mercy and love will be mine

What I woke up to that morning, was the idea that to move beyond where I am, I need a COMPLETE REWIRING if not A COMPLETE REENGINEERING

If redemption is earned I have done EVERYTHING in my finite ability to do that.

I found myself saying and acknowledging that mine this morning was an arrogant prayer.

I had a drinking dream and it is said that when that happens, there is something in my life that needs looking at, dealing with, acknowledging.

I woke in earnest and sincere prayer and I told Him I realise that what I am asking of myself in my life is redemption, restoration, trust and indeed, salvation. I ask for it now.

To move from where I am needs a God. I can’t do it. God knows I can’t do it. I am tired. I am tired, not the pissed off tired, but the tired of REAL physical, emotional and mental exhaustion.

I am exhausted of

Searching for Him

Doing the right thing

Of feeling guilty, ashamed, sick and tired of doing the wrong thing

This recovery journey as I know it

The effort I have put in the search

The time I have put in

The pain and self-denial it takes to work on myself

The being there for others and seeing the outcome and real results in their lives of that association

Not finding an African older male mentor with whom we can relate

I know the thing that may come through about the space I am in is one of self-pity. I am not going to argue.  I just wish I could have mercy on me more than the pity I may, if at all, be having on myself.

I have sabotaged my own progress several times: too many to count. And looking at it, it is insane. In some situations, most actually, I have walked into the Sabotage Zone, with my eyes wide open and in others, wide shut. The insanity of it freaks me out. And that is why, I believe to get different results, I certainly need to do it differently. And to do it differently, I need to be wired differently and I can’t do that on or by myself. I don’t do wiring. He Does.

I give up, I surrender. I am writing this on the premise that I have done ALL I can and could with what I had and have. It is a place that is real for me. Even if it is a perception, is NOT occurring as such. It occurs as real.

Now, let me share a cost-benefit analysis of NOT trusting God and of trusting HIM. I will use God here as the most consistent example used out there as a source of deliverance, redemption, salvation, sobriety, possibility, love, whatever. My personal experience of God that I will draw on is one of being a source of grace.

In doing this exercise, I am suspending all judgement of self. This makes available honesty and open-mindedness with me and willingness to let go and let God.

Here goes:

Cost of NOT trusting Him

  1. I stay miserable
  2. I remain fearful
  3. I stay small
  4. I struggle, struggle, struggle
  5. I always doubt if I am doing the right thing
  6. I HAVE to go to church, to meetings, to lifegroup, to friends’ wedding committees
  7. I HAVE to give, to tithe, to share
  8. I resent those who seem to be making it
  9. I believe that what I have will be taken away again
  10. I believe I will never make it
  11. I work harder on myself on my steps
  12. I am ALWAYS tired
  13. I am alone and lonely
  14. I am misunderstood, rejected and judged
  15. I suffer depression
  16. I stay broke
  17. I become suspicious of good times and good spaces
  18. I am solely responsible for the way my life turns out

Benefit of NOT trusting Him

  1. I don’t have to have faith now about a result in the future
  2. I can justify my misery
  3. I don’t have to take care of my son, He will
  4. I don’t have to fast, pray, delay gratification
  5. I don’t have to work on myself which to me, is synonymous with spiritual growth
  6. I can justify my depression by saying I am just a man and beyond this siwesmek
  7. I cannot be held responsible or accountable for my life. He gave me a messed up life that I didn’t apply for so , I can do whatever I want with it including ending it
  8. The good results in my life are ALL my doing
  9. I can easily walk away from bad situations; failed relationships; people I have hurt and blame it on them
  10. I can source my own deliverance, redemption, salvation, sobriety, love, possibilities
  11. I can do what I want when I want how I want
  12. I can be the centre and source of my own life

Cost of trusting Him


  1. Is that I surrender my beliefs, outlook, hopes and desires to Him
  2. Is that I don’t do my will anymore
  3. Listening to my sponsors and loving critics even when I don’t want to
  4. I have to wait, to develop patience
  5. Give up the idea that my way is better than His
  6. It’s often inconvenient and uncomfortable
  7. That I will often not get what I want
  8. That it will cost me financially, in time, energy
  9. Spiritual growth takes effort, courage
  10. Action, action, action
  11. Prayer, prayer, prayer takes faith, waiting, waiting, and more faith
  12. That my life is not mine any more
  13. Humility
  14. Watching my language
  15. I work my program as it is designed
  16. Never being sure of where He is in my life situations

Benefit of trusting Him


  1. He can take responsibility for His part in my creation
  2. I can rest especially assured that ALL will be ok no matter what
  3. The quality of His deliverance, redemption, salvation, sobriety, love, possibilities always beats those that I have sourced myself
  4. That I can assign all responsibility of how my life turns out to Him
  5. There is belief as being true that only He can redeem, save, deliver, love, sober me up and fulfil on the possibilities and purpose of  my life

Now beyond doing this I do not know what next. I, however, would like to note the following:

ANALYSIS


In terms of number of points only:

  1. The COST of NOT TRUSTING Him outweighs the BENEFIT of NOT TRUSTING by 33%.
  2. The COST of TRUSTING Him also outweighs the BENEFIT of TRUSTING by almost 70%.

In simplistic terms, it means that NOT TRUSTING is NOT working for me. There also is a faith or spiritual crisis. This is because if not trusting is not working and trusting is coming at a high cost, then I am not surprised at the incongruence of it all and how it is showing up in reality.

What next?

Wait, wait, wait…