Gratitude Muscle

Drinking was hard work, in the end. It wasn’t always that way. My drinking started out as an escape… it was relaxing and fun. I had too much fun drinking and I knew it, pretty early on. I knew there was alcoholism in my family and that the way I loved being loaded was a bad sign. I never wanted it to stop, right from the start. I always laughed about the “It’s 5:00 somewhere” line that I would hear from time to time. I couldn’t care less what time it was. It was always time to drink Why bother with stupid rules about when? Can I get away with it? That was my only guideline, and eventually, that didn’t even really matter, much. I always looked forward to it and it always worked… until it didn’t. The more I relied on it the more it betrayed me. Bit by bit, incrementally over 17(or so) years, alcohol betrayed me. What was once my liberator became my jailer. That’s the funny thing about time. One day looks a lot like the last. I didn’t suddenly wake up to be a miserable drunk. It just happened, slowly over many, many days. Eventually, there was no looking forward to drinking because alcohol never left my side. Alcohol was no longer an escape. Worse still, I could no longer escape from alcohol! 

If it was just a matter of stopping drinking for me, That would be one thing. But I don’t like not drinking. My human form likes to drink, a lot. I have to learn how to not want to drink. And I have to remind myself regularly why I don’t want to drink. To work on improving and not counting on yesterday’s recovery to keep me from drinking today. In the past, when I would “just not drink” I literally felt like I was going crazy. The phrase “Restless, irritable, and discontent” rang so true for me. I thought being sober was boring, more so, being sober was awful. Drinking was rarely good but being sober was worse. There’s a saying I like that goes, “If you just take the alcohol from an alcoholic, you’re left with ic(k).”

So what to do? For my recovery, I have to think less of myself while giving more. I have to be of service, and practice honesty, in all my affairs. I have to clean up my messes, past, and present. I need something to be accountable to, that is greater than myself. I need to acknowledge and be grateful for this life, this sobriety. Gratitude is a muscle, without exercise it will atrophy. But with exercise, it gets stronger, it can do more.

Life is so much easier now, in recovery. It is not free of effort, to be sure. Recovery takes work… to stay grateful, and humble, and to stay right-sized. But compared to the effort it took to drink the way I drank, and hide it the way I hid it, whew! This is sooo much easier. The easier, softer way for me is sobriety. But being happily sober is not without effort. I gotta do stuff.

Recovery takes work. Sloth leads to dis-ease. Now, when I find myself thinking, “I don’t wanna” or “I don’t feel like it…” I usually know I’m full of shit. When I start feeling that way, I am no longer in the sunshine of the spirit. I am self-centered and self-absorbed. I try to nip that in the bud asap. When I notice, I try not to let myself finish the thought. “I don’t feel… shut up!” Go do the thing you think you don’t want to do because it’s easier to work hard in sobriety than to work hard trying to gain sobriety. And, in truth, it’s not hard.

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