The only thing worse than obligatory family gatherings are obligatory gratitude blog posts — like, we get it, you suddenly feel compelled to acknowledge that your life is relatively not shitty. There are people out there without a roof over their heads or food on their tables or fingers to type with. As great as it is to appreciate all that we have, there’s something disingenuous about the sudden desire to give thanks around Thanksgiving, like when reform Jews suddenly decide to find religion on the Day of Atonement.
But being thankful is a big part of sobriety. Last night I went to a Buddhist recovery meeting and the theme was “gratitude.” I listened to what those around me said, and I thought about what I would share if I were called on. I wasn’t, but I have a blog (albeit a neglected one), and what better place to put those thoughts down. As always, I’m choosing to make this public instead of keeping it to myself just in case it helps anyone. If you can relate, or if it provokes any emotional response at all, it’ll be worth the embarrassment that accompanies this type of exposure.
I mean, maybe.
I’m thankful for the ability to try new things — both the opportunity to do so, and the willingness to let my guard down and embrace the unknown. I’m thankful that these new things are working for me, so far. Sobriety is a new thing, and it’s one of the scariest of all. I’m still adjusting to life as a sober person, but I’m grateful for the outlook it’s given me already. My eyes are open; I’m experiencing everything on a different level. It’s not all sunshine and Otter Pops — a lot of it is total crap. The ability to take in and accept both is pretty great, though. Clarity is a gift.
Another thing that is new to me: all this hippie shit. Yoga, meditation, acupuncture — it’s everything I spent years rejecting. Not because I don’t believe in the power of alternative medicine (although I’m sure for a while that was part of it), but because it’s easier not to try. Focus on your breathing. Sit cross-legged on a mat. Get some needles in your skin. Or don’t, and enjoy the comfort of what you know. The familiar is easy but it’s not always right, so before I got sober, I resolved to try everything that came my way, no matter how awkward or granola. I’m grateful I did. Have you ever had acupuncture? It’s kiiind of amazing.
I’m thankful for my words. At my darkest moments, I’ve always had the power of self-expression, and that is really fucking cool. For every time I have felt desperate and hopeless, there’s been a blog post, tweet, or Facebook status update to help me articulate it. That might sound silly to some, which is fine. I won’t crap on your recovery if you don’t crap on mine. But whether you like what I write or not, it helps me immeasurably to get it out. This is therapy for me. (Even this, right now! This very sentence that I’m typing. Period.)
I’m thankful for other people’s words. Everything I read on Twitter. Everything I hear in groups and meetings. Everything George R. R. Martin has written, which is seriously a lot.
We prattle on about the internet’s tendency to isolate, but there’s also an amazing sense of community here, and I think in many ways we help each other survive that same isolation we’re apparently engendering. So, thanks for bearing with me. Thanks for being there. Thanks for letting me be there for you. I know sincerity is gross, and I promise not to be this zen all the time. But for now, just let the warmth wash over you. (So gross.)
What else? I’m thankful for Jeff Mangum. He gets it.
What a beautiful face
I have found in this place
That is circling all ’round the sun
And when we meet on a cloud
I’ll be laughing out loud
I’ll be laughing with everyone I see
Can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all