In the past six years that I have been sober, there has been a lot for me to be grateful for. When I was newly sober I made a gratitude every night of ten things that I was grateful for. When I started working with other women as a mentor or sponsor I had them do the same thing. Sometimes the items on the lists seemed silly or trivial. But it doesn’t matter. You can be grateful for the smallest, stupidest, funniest things. Although I no longer make a daily list, I am still always working on cultivating gratitude. I thought I would go back to that practice and make a list of reasons I’m thankful for my recovery.
1. I Am Never Hung Over
This first one might seem pretty insignificant but it really isn’t. When I was using I spent so much time hung over that I usually wasn’t able to get things done the next day. I frequently woke up at 3 or 4 pm after a night of heavy drinking. My body and head were constantly aching and I often threw up. These days I can wake up at whatever time I want knowing that I will feel pretty good!
2. I am Nicer to Myself
I am grateful for recovery because it has taught me to be kinder to myself. Back when I was using I constantly beat myself up for things I regretted. The voice inside my mind was this harsh critic who wouldn’t leave me alone. It would have been impossible to change this voice because I was constantly doing things that I felt guilty or just crappy about. Recovery has given me the gift of a kinder internal voice. I use meditation practices to learn how to be kinder to myself. And, I have stopped doing things over and over that I regret. The combination or self-forgiveness and better behavior has made me nicer to myself.
3. I have Built Deep Relationships
I often say that when I was using the lifespan of my friendships was about one year. After a year my friends would usually notice that my drinking was a serious problem, get sick of me using them, or get sick of me being a bad friend. I am grateful for recovery because it has allowed me to build long lasting relationships with wonderful people. I met my husband in recovery and he is also my absolute best friend. I would not have been capable of the closeness and openness we have without being in recovery.
4. My Memory is Awesome!
I remember one summer when I drinking and smoking pot almost every day. At the end of the summer someone would tell me something and ten minutes later I would completely forget it. My memory was so bad I started to get scared to go back to school because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do any of the work. I am grateful for recovery because I now have an awesome memory. I don’t worry about forgetting things or losing things all the time. Once I stopped killing my brain with substances, I was able to regain a lot of that lost memory capacity.
5. I am Not Limited by Myself
Before I got sober, I spent so much time sabotaging and limiting myself. I was that student that teachers said things to like, “if you just tried a little bit you could get really good grades”. I had pretty much no interest in going well in school or work because I all I cared about was drinking. I would sabotage myself by not even trying because then it wouldn’t be a let down if I failed. I am so grateful for recovery because it gave me the confidence to actually try hard at the things I care about. Since I stopped limiting myself I have accomplished so many things I wold have never thought possible.
6. I am not as Anxious
Anxiety was one of the biggest reasons I used to begin with. Drinking and doing drugs made me feel less anxious for a minute. But then when I woke up the next day I was more anxious than ever before. I had panic attacks frequently and had pretty much no tools for coping. When I got into recovery some of the anxiety got better immediately. I no longer had all these things to worry about like hiding and lying my addiction. The rest of the anxiety got much better because I learned tools from sponsors, meditation teachers, and other for how to actually cope with anxiety. I am happy to say that I haven’t had a panic attack now in over five years.
7. I Have Fun Without Consequences
Every time I had “fun” when I was using it came with a ton of consequences. Sometimes it was a bad hangover but sometimes it was losing a friend or seriously hurting someone. When I partied things went wrong and I wasn’t having fun if I wasn’t partying. One amazing thing about recovery is that I get to have a fun time without consequences. It’s pretty rare that I get myself into trouble bowling or playing mini golf!
8. I’m More Confident
After about a year of recovery I completely stopped wearing make up. Before then I had caked on heavy make up every day because I was conscious. It made me feel safer, like I was going out into the world with a buffer on my face. I also spent a lot of time and money on clothes and things that gave me the illusion of confidence. Recovery has given me real confidence. I act in ways that are esteemable and stay away from things that make me feel like crap about myself.
9. I Don’t Waste Money on Booze and Drugs
The first time I did a 4th step, I remember trying to add up all the money I had spent on alcohol and drugs over the short time I spend using. I don’t remember the exact number now, but I do know it was staggering. I am grateful for recovery because now I can do what I actually want to do with my money. My husband and I have taken impromptu trips to Zion or Death Valley. I would never be able to do this if I was still flushing dollars down the toilet.