The holiday season is upon us, and November is often thought of as a month to focus on gratitude. Thanksgiving is a time when we give thanks — for what we have, who we are and the people around us. It’s a time when we spend time with our family and loved ones.
Another reason Thanksgiving is a unique time of the year is that it calls for reflection. For those of us in recovery, we can feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude, and the number one thing we’re thankful for is often our recovery. If you’re struggling with sobriety, or want to reinforce your commitment, here are eight reasons to be thankful in recovery.
It’s like you’re seeing life for the first time again.
One of the greatest parts about recovery is coming out of the fog of drugs and alcohol. Your senses become heightened and you get to plug yourself into life again. This means you are no longer numb all the time. You get to show up, feel everything, and actively participate in life. It can feel like you see life through new lenses and you get to do everything over again for the first time, sober.
You can make amends and reconcile.
At first, making amends can seem overwhelming when you get sober. There are a lot of misconceptions about what amends are. You don’t have to go around apologizing to every person you ever insulted. But when you get sober, you do get to reconcile your relationships. That means you get to work on yourself, admit when you did wrong, acknowledge and apologize for it. This is a process of healing, and it’s something to be grateful for in recovery. Making amends is part of the joyful process of rejuvenating your relationships.
You get to be on a journey of self-discovery.
It’s pretty awesome. For someone who never once thought about spirituality or the kind of soul I have, recovery has encouraged me to think about those things. It has also made me realize several profound facts like I don’t have to do things I don’t like to do, such as staying out late, seeing scary movies, or socializing constantly. It’s been a learning process and I’ve found new things I like to do, like yoga and CrossFit. When you’re drinking or using, you don’t think about self-discovery. You don’t have hobbies or, if you do, you don’t get to enjoy them fully. I’m grateful I get to be present and do that today.
You get to enjoy the holidays with a clear mind.
How lucky are we, to be going to holiday gatherings with an attitude of gratitude? I will tell you this: I never knew what gratitude was until I got sober. I used to hate holidays. I couldn’t bother to be thankful when all I wanted was something more, whether it was a drink, a drug, a man, or a material item. I never took the time to appreciate what I had. Recovery has allowed me to learn about gratitude and to tie that into every month of the year, not just around the holidays.
Recovery is easier when you’re thankful.
Not only has recovery taught me about being thankful, but I’ve discovered that recovery is easier when I’m thankful. When you don’t take life for granted, you automatically wake up and feel grateful. This makes recovery easier because you never want to lose that feeling. Recovery and gratitude are intertwined in that way.
You get to enjoy fun without regrets.
Having fun to me was binge drinking, going out to nightclubs until the wee hours of the morning, doing drugs with strangers, and doing whatever I wanted. Again, I don’t think I had a real concept of what fun was. Today, I look back on all the time I wasted and I get sad because I wish I had done something more with it. I recognize that this wasn’t fun at all — it was getting drunk and high. In recovery, I am able to have real fun — fun I can remember and that I will cherish forever; fun that doesn’t make me feel ashamed, guilty, or full of regret. I am incredibly thankful for that.
You can help others.
Reaching out and helping others is another thing I never thought of while I was drinking. When you’re in active addiction, it’s common to be self-consumed and it’s hard to think about anyone or anything besides your substance of choice. I thought that helping others was a waste of time. I didn’t think it mattered or even did anything. In recovery, I’ve learned that helping others is one of the cornerstones of living a healthy and fulfilling life. It not only makes you feel good, but it also makes others feel good. Embracing the message of recovery allows me to pass that message on to others.
You gain the ability to look on the bright side.
This is an important one. I was someone who felt like the world was out to get me. I constantly used every bad thing that happened to me as an excuse as to why my life was horrible and why I deserved to drink. I felt scorned and that I deserved every bad thing that happened. Recovery has taught me that the universe has my back. I learned that eliminating harmful substances from my life also removed a lot of the negativity. I now have the skills to handle whatever life throws at me and I am able to see the positive in most situations. I am open to learning life lessons and making changes as I go along.
If you’re in recovery, every day is a time to be thankful. When the holidays come around each year, it’s just another reminder that this life we lead is beautiful and it’s all because of recovery. We hope you have a wonderful sober Thanksgiving and holiday season!