Yesterday I took a phone call from one of my Banquet brothers. He calls me periodically just to shoot the shit. He is one of my predecessors and someone I admire greatly. He has been in recovery for a long time, in fact, I believe the last wine he drank was actually at the last Supper. LOL! But he’s a good man, and I always look forward to our talks, and to working with him, helping our struggling brothers find recovery. During our most recent phone call, our conversation turned to the topic of Gratitude, which was fitting because it was just a couple days after thanksgiving and Gratitude has been the main theme of the month for most of us. We took turns going back and forth about what gratitude means to each of us, and how we “stay grateful”. I use the quotes there, because I don’t know if it is even possible to stay grateful all of the time. At least not for me.
I truly believe and have long said that one of the most “Dangerous” people in the world, in my opinion, is an addict who has lost their gratitude. But as I think about that now, I believe the one critique I can make to that statement is not ‘gratitude’, but appreciation. And there is a fine line in my brain. I can wake up every single day grateful that I am no longer homeless, strung out, and committing crimes; but do I appreciate that? And if the answer to that question there, is no, then I am once again that Ticking Time Bomb from book #1. And I have been. Several times over as a matter of fact. The last 6 years have been turbulent in a million ways, lots of good, lots of bad, lots of in betweens. But the Mental growth spurt that really led me to where I am this morning, was the loss of appreciation, coupled with unmet expectations, and unlimited comparisons. Which ultimately led me into a pretty damn dark spiral of depression, bitterness, and anger.
You know, we addicts are an interesting bunch. I always say, “I got clean because I wanted a better life, and I stay clean because I got one.” But it’s not just that simple or effortless. Life has kicked my ass over and over again, to the point of white knuckled, pick up the God Damn Phone moments. And what’s more, is that, with the exception of the loss of my brother, nothing was ever really “That Bad”. Any situation, that I think I have found myself in, is usually of my own making, and the sum total of the same equation listed above. Which ultimately had me pretty fucking delusional for a while. I do, in fact, have an absolutely amazing life, and a perfect marriage with Tiffany. But it actually took me some time, yep, to truly realize that. And I think that’s why our first “nickle” is so important.
I spent 29 years not knowing shit. I spent 29 years not knowing healthy relationships, healthy love, healthy home, life, etc. I spent 29 years in the “upside down”, counter culture of society, and all of the bad that it had to offer. So how in the fuck can I possibly rebuild myself, love others, and truly come to grips with life, self esteem, worth, love for others and etc in just 5 years? I cant. And this is why it is so important for us to ALLOW ourselves to get vulnerable, and allow others to love us until we can love ourselves. So many who have followed me for many years, see the results. The smoke and Mirrors of it all. They don’t see me driving around the county roads bawling my eyes out because I feel like a failure of a father and husband, only to return with my best big boy face on and try and hold it together. They don’t see all of the hard work and gritted teeth and tears that went into this entry this morning. It has been very difficult and quite frankly humiliating at times. I knew that I wanted to get clean and stay clean and have a better life, but what’s interesting is that I never learned how to truly appreciate it all. Until, honestly, recently. And I am not sure why either, it’s interesting to me.
But maybe it is because I have never really known Pride, or a sense of accomplishment. Maybe it’s because I felt undeserving, or like I was always waiting on the other shoe to drop? Or maybe its a product of my past life and the ways I was living, and my victim mentality. A Self fulfilling, self defeating prophesy, maybe? I got clean because I wanted a better life, and I stayed clean because I got one, So why then did I allow myself to be so invaded by negative thoughts and become so consumed by lack of appreciation and gratitude? It was almost like I was just kind of walking the walk, talking the talk, but not allowing myself to feel the feels. It hadn’t really sunk in for a while just how far I/We have come, and all that we have accomplished. And I believe that I have finally come to the point where I can appreciate who I am, who I have and just accept people and things, no matter what our differences are, exactly the way that they are. And that feels really good. But it almost cost me all of my most cherished relationships. Thank God for those people who will love us until we can love ourselves, and that truly adds to my gratitude this morning.
Growing sucks. Growing up sucks. Mental growth spurts suck. Comparison sucks. Expectations suck. Being vulnerable sucks. Allowing others to see us for exactly who we are sucks. But all of these things are what Life is all about. Learning as we go, letting go, cutting the bad fruits off of the trees, letting others in, admitting that we don’t know everything and that we are not “King Dingaling”. Humility is a great remedy to this, but for me, I have long sense battled internally with myself between Ego and Humility, which has led to humiliation, which is the act of being humbled against our will. Thank God that I feel the right size this morning.
And as I think about it this morning, it is a little deeper than just “An attitude of Gratitude”, It is about appreciation and truly valuing and cherishing the people, places, things, and mindsets that we have right here and right now. I have long sense looked that Gift Horse in the mouth, and that has nearly cost me everyone and everything.
Humility, gratitude, and appreciation.
That’s what it’s all about for me today.
Don’t tell me you’re grateful, show me you appreciate.
Humility keeps us the right size, Gratitude keeps us in service to others, and appreciation nurtures our relationships.