The beginning of the holiday season kicks off this week, which means it’s time to count your blessings. Those in recovery must fortify their defenses and batten down their spiritual hatches if one’s program is to remain intact. One of the most effective ways of ensuring relapse doesn’t become part of one’s story over Thanksgiving is to maintain an attitude of gratitude.
Expressing thankfulness and appreciation in every area of one’s life is significant to maintaining a program. If you have accrued some recovery time, then some people have been instrumental to you in achieving your goals. Nobody recovers on their own; we do this together. We’d be wise to remind ourselves of this regularly; we wouldn’t be where we are today without help.
Call to mind when you arrived in treatment, a shell of your former self. It’s likely you heard someone tell you that everything is going to be alright. Remember the first person in a meeting who reached out their hand to you and expressed interest in your success. There are, no doubt, several instances you can recall when a fellow in recovery offered their support, unsolicited. People who pay forward what they received gratis in the program is what keeps this remarkable enterprise going. You have or will do the same when the time is right, the cycle of recovery depends upon everyone’s participation.
Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Recovery: Your Gratitude is Required
Making an effort to express your gratitude for others is not always easy. There are times when it’s hard to recognize all the good in your life and all the people who have your back. A helping hand is often gentle, words of support are sometimes just a whisper, but everyone owes aspects of their recovery to a higher power and specific individuals.
Even those of you who are new to the program know the importance of sharing your gratitude with others. It’s likely that your counselors and sponsor suggested prayer and meditation as a means for ensuring progress. Recovery is a spiritual program, once we realize that most things in life are out of our control, it becomes easier to open our hearts to a higher power. Such a “life-force will” is the glue that holds our recovery together, which means acknowledgment of that fact is vital. Only a power greater-than-ourselves can restore us to sanity, so we must continually turn our will and our lives over to that force. A daily commitment to be thankful for everything and everyone who had a hand in our progression.
In early recovery, many people struggle to converse with their higher power, for numerous reasons. After years of substance use and reliance on oneself for survival makes it difficult to accept help. A mindset of self-will and self-reliance makes it hard to believe that there might be something else designing the architecture of our lives. However, that doesn’t mean starting a dialogue is impossible; with practice and an attitude of gratitude, anything is possible.
Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” ― Maya Angelou
Allowing Gratitude to Carry You Through the Holidays
If you are a young adult, who is relatively new to working a program, you might be dreading Thanksgiving. Perhaps this Thursday is the first time you will be home since going through addiction treatment? If you are like most people in this situation, you’re preparing yourself for a salvo of questions from loved ones at the dinner table. It’s doubtful you are thrilled about the prospect of having to explain to your uncle why you can’t drink a beer with him. Describing both the core and the minutiae of a program that is not easily put into words probably doesn’t bring joy to your heart. Nevertheless, if you are going home there are things you can do to keep stress at bay.
There is a good chance you had the help of a family member in bringing about your recovery. Whether mom and dad drove you to treatment or financially supported your decision to get help, your family played an important role in your recovery. They may have questions regarding your mission to live life on life’s terms, which you can attempt to answer patiently. Or, you can just say that you are not in a position to explain something adequately, so you’d rather not. In early recovery, individuals often follow suggestions without fully understanding the value of the suggested behavior. In time, the real importance of an action will reveal itself, but for now, it’s alright not to have the answer.
If you find yourself having to field your family's questions, you won’t get as stressed if you remind yourself that their curiosity comes from caring, not scrutiny. No one in recovery can afford to let their emotions get the best of them during a holiday, the risks of doing so are profound. If a family member is starting to get under your skin, simply walk away and call your sponsor. If your distress doesn’t dissipate still, find your way to a meeting pronto; rest assured that many of the people you will find in that meeting share your current sentiments.
Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ― Marcel Proust
Whether you have one month or one year sober, you’ve much to be grateful for today. If you make an effort on Thanksgiving to share your gratitude with others, it will make the day go by easier. Remember your tools and the skills you acquired in treatment, and relapse won’t be a part of your recovery.
The gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center would like to wish everyone in recovery a safe, sober, and happy Thanksgiving. We are proud of your accomplishments, and we hope that you are, too.