Co-NNections Recovery Stories

A Reflection about the Slogans – 1-15-19

  • I practice gratitude. / I adopt an attitude of gratitude.
  • In order to feel grateful, first I need to trust.
  • In the morning, I decide what sort of day I am going to have.
  • You can’t keep it if you don’t give it away. 

I had to spend several years working the CoDA program – at least five – before I began to understand what the subject of gratitude was all about and its importance to my recovery process. 

Since I came to the Twelve Steps a very damaged person – after 45 years of being burdened by enormous suffering without any idea of what had caused it much less how to rid myself of this burden – ‘being grateful’ was nothing that figured in my plans at all: I wasn’t going to lose time on that, when what I needed was to stop the pain that was killing me. When my wise sponsor suggested that I start by listing what I was grateful for, it confirmed, to my mind, what I had always suspected…that the poor woman was raving mad. What did I have to be grateful for – my helplessness, the feeling of abandonment, my loneliness, my failures as a partner and the anger of the people around me? For, for, for….blah, blah, blah…

Nevertheless, at that moment, I already had something to be grateful for: an attitude of surrender in the face of the pain I was going through, the humility to attend a Twelve Step group to look for help and my obedience to, or compliance with, all that the CoDA program and that woman showed me, although it seemed to be senseless. So I got the ball rolling. OK, I was going to say ‘thank you’ every day. I was, at that time, very far from understanding the true meaning of gratitude! 

At any rate, in these rooms I have also learned that every project begins with a first step, that recovery is a journey, not an event; that in order to arrive I had to live my every day life (later I also understood that I did not have to arrive at any particular place, but that is a different issue).

Certainly, I complied with the recommendations to read texts about gratitude. There, I encountered another surprise: I also needed to be grateful for things that I don’t like. My god! Was this another group of madmen, recommending an even greater madness? Be grateful for my failed marriages? Be grateful that I had only known how to inoculate myself with neglectful, inaccessible men? Be grateful that I would have to raise three children by myself? Be grateful that I would, for decades, have to work 2 and 3 jobs at the same time? Be grateful that I would be unable to be close to my children in their childhood and adolescence, due to my multiple Jobs? Please…that is exactly what they were…another group of madmen. And I, I was the worst of them all for considering the possibility of doing what those ‘enlightened’ ones recommended.  Anyway, the words of the Third Step suggested ‘What do you have to lose but your misery?’ So, obediently, I got back to work. I decided once again to trust that, if it had worked for other members, it could also work for me. And I got back to work. 

Sometime later I realized that I was beginning to enjoy the practice of gratefulness in all of its forms, from a simple “Thank you, have a nice day” to the bus driver, to gratitude for sphincters that function or because I understand that I have neither the control nor the power to cure a sick grandson, gratitude because my mother’s comments and attacks still hurt me, gratitude for those men who were unable to support me while I reared my children, gratitude because I was born in such a poor household, and gratitude for all of the things that I lacked. All of it, suddenly, had been transformed into a reason to be give thanks. The people who, according to me, had betrayed me or wounded me became my teachers, sickness turned to strength, frustrations turned into rungs that lead to wisdom, shadows lead to knowledge, bitterness  to peace, anger and resentment became wisdom…

All those minutes, without number, spent in meetings and program experience have taught me that this gift, along with all of the ones I have received here, if I do not pass them on, I lose them. Thus, in the present advanced (but not the final) phase of gratitude, I try to share this spiritual knowledge with my companions and to practice it in all my affairs. 

What I mean to say is that, in my daily life, I have been able to link these five slogans, since from the time that I open my eyes I adopt an attitude of gratitude and engage the primary tool by deciding what sort of day I’m going to have. Then I give thanks for everyone and for everything and I give of what I have to those around me. I realize that, in effect, to be grateful, first I needed to touch bottom, surrender and learn to trust.

The slogans are a powerful tool to live ‘One Day at a Time’.

(Steps where gratitude is a spiritual principal: IX, X, XI).

Liceth, Un Día a la Vez, Costa Rica – 11/21/2019

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