Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Gratitude (still and always)

 One of my maternal cousins is a regular attendee of the Portland Symphony, and until Covid shut everything down, I tagged along every other month or so, not because I'm particularly knowledgeable or a huge fan, but for the event-ness of going downtown for dinner and enjoyable music, outside my usual realm. The symphony re-opened in October, and this weekend, I went for the first time in nineteen months. It was fun to put on earrings and something other than sweatpants, showing my vaccine card and sitting with other masked patrons - not quite "normal" but a reasonable facsimile.

Appreciating the grandeur of the venue, a re-purposed movie theater built in 1927, I was struck by just how much I've taken for granted: freedom of movement and the freedom to gather, the ability to make a plan and leave the house without needing to think about space and distance and sticking a mask in my pocket. Our power went out for four hours a few weeks ago - again, a stark reminder of how much I assume: that the lights will go on with a flip of a switch, that I can make a cup of tea whenever I wish, that our home will always be warm and cozy.  

If I'm being honest, I sometimes take my recovery for granted, like it's a given. That's not all bad - sobriety has been my habit, my way of life, for a long time now, so it is the norm - I appreciate that I don't have to think about not drinking like at the beginning. And, I know that my recovery, which I equate with physical sobriety and spiritual growth, requires at least some attention to avoid the dreaded "retrogressive groove." As I've written before, I know that addiction recovery is not one-size-fits-all. I have friends who simply stopped doing what was causing them difficulty, and others who participated in AA for years and no longer do. Meetings work for me, with the regular reminders of what it was like, as well as bearing witness to, and learning from, the life-on-life's-terms of my peers. And, if I'm practicing the Steps, I can't very well carry the message if not in the company of newer folks, at least some of the time. I can both enjoy the relative calm of long term sobriety, and do what I need to do to keep it, knowing that what's needed shifts and changes over time.

I hope I don't take my spouse or good friends for granted, knowing that relationships require nurturing in order to continue and thrive. I am fortunate to have several friends who are of the "take up where we left off" variety, which could be weekly, monthly or a few times a year. I've read, and heard from others, that the pandemic has resulted in a culling, a winnowing of relations, from a nebulous group of acquaintances defined by circumstance (work, meetings, hobbies) that likely included regular contact in the before-times, to those people I'd drive across the miles to see.  One friend recently heard the actual words, "I've decided not to continue our friendship." That would sting, though I can appreciate the level of honesty and courage involved in speaking that truth. These days, I spend time with my walking group and with women I've known since our school days or soon after. Actually, I spend most of my time alone, or with my spouse, though need to be mindful of balance. Retirement is a transition, learning how to be in the world sans schedule. Retirement in a global pandemic is a learning opportunity as well, impeding engagement with the greater community. The pandemic slow down has been a cosmic lesson in waiting, never my first choice. Whether job decision, relationships, or dinner, I was long an "act now, question later" type person. I'm actually enjoying learning to ponder before I leap.

When I find myself in awareness of all I take for granted, I turn to the trusty gratitude list - all the more timely, this being November. From hot running water to good friendships, I have much to be thankful for. I'm told that gratitude is a spiritual elevator, a tool as well as an attitude. I can't "make" myself feel grateful, but simply the exercise of listing all the things I might be grateful for, were I so inclined, leads me to a better frame of mind.  

What, or who, do you sometimes take for granted? How might your attitude change if you were mindful that those things you assume are a given are actually a gift? How do you define being in recovery? What are the regular practices that keep you from forgetting how far you've come? Retired, or working, are there areas of your life that are on hold, that require a "wait?" How do you stay in acceptance, rather than attempting for force the issue or foresee the future?


Just in time for the holidays, or your year-end inventory, consider my workbook, "I've Been Sober a Long Time - Now What?" covering such topics as Aging, Sponsorship, Relationships, and Grief & Loss with a narrative, a member's view, and processing questions, with space for writing. Perfect for sharing with a sponsor, trusted other, or in a small group.

If you're not seeing the links in the upper right corner of this post, you can go to the WEB VERSION of this page to sign up for weekly email deliveries, or to purchase the workbook.   See below to connect (2 options):

 Sober Long Time - Now What? (     

No comments:

Post a Comment