HipSobriety and I are doing the Gabby Bernstein's "May Cause Miracles" 40 Day fear cleanse based on A Course in Miracles. If you want to join along, email me at emailaura [at] gmail [dot] com or find me or on Instagram where I'm posting about it daily.
My attitude clearly sucks these past few days. I literally groaned when I listened to Gabby's voice saying, "Day 4: Gratitude is the Attitude."
But I took notice, and just started writing. Pen to paper. I started to make a list of things I am grateful for. No editing, just the first (18) things that came to mind:
1. Alma 2. Coffee in the morning 3. The 'interrupters'* 4. My job - that I have one, that I can support myself 5. Candles 6. My new home 7. Living by the sea 8. That I stayed sober one more day 9. Breathing - the yoga kind 10. That I have ways to heal myself 11. Holly 12. My sponsor 13. My grandmas - both of them - who are both sick 14. AA - that I have a place to go 15. Today - that I was able to wake up early 16. Our capacity to change and choose 17. Quiet 18. Fucking music - duh!
By the time I reached 18, I felt an energy shift - a bit of lightness. It's not that I'm against gratitude, of course, but sometimes - and especially lately, maybe because of Thanksgiving and too many 'internet wisdoms' - it feels saccharine and fake to proclaim "GRATITUDE IS THE ATTITUDE!" Maybe my ego is just resistant as all hell right now as I'm working through these daily practices.
My friend Holly was feeling the same struggle going into Thanksgiving, which she wrote about here.
"...the capacity for gratuity comes and goes, and it would return, and I wouldn't be marred for not posting something about gratitude."
Point is, sometimes we're feeling it, sometimes we're not. But there's great purpose in practicing it with intention regularly, because just like prayer, yoga, or showering, it needs to be a regular practice. "You can't stay clean on yesterday's shower." Thank you AA, for yet another overly simplistic but profoundly true aphorism. <3
While I was writing this morning about today's lesson, I thought of two things.
First, when I was in my early 20's and working for a .com start-up, I had two co-workers and friends: Jeff and Mark. Jeff and I dated for a while on and off - my first lesson in the 'don't poo where you eat' mantra of dating in the workplace. Mark was an ultra-smart Princeton grad, sensitive, funny, tall and warm. Jeff was a goofy but very cute mid-western boy, a bit out of his element in Boston, but wide-eyed about it, too. The three of us palled around a lot, and when Jeff and I stopped dating and I was bumming about it, Mark said to me one day,
"Jeff is striving to just be ok. Not great. Not better than average. Just ok. I don't see you with someone who is striving to just be ok. He's like white bread and you're pumpernickel swirl."
It's probably important to say Mark wasn't trying to be with me. He had a girlfriend he was crazy about and there wasn't any magic between the two of us. He was just pointing out what he saw as an obvious observation. You're this; he's that; you can do better than that. He wasn't even being mean about Jeff - they were good buddies. Dudes can talk like that. But I never forgot it. Just striving to be ok. Huh.
The second thing that passed through my mind this morning were these lyrics by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco in the song "Please be Patient with Me."
"I'm this apple, this happening stone when I'm alone my blessings get so blurred at the sound of your words"
We need to intentionally think about gratitude because our blessings get so blurred.
The interrupters: Anne Lamott talked about how at some point in her recover process, she had developed relationships with so many people who were invested in her sobriety, that she couldn't just disappear anymore. If she went off the radar for more than a day or so, she'd get calls or people would show up at her house. She called them the interrupters.
I've experienced this twice in the past two nights - both nights that I wanted to drink and was *this* close to actually doing it. The first night, I was out with my daughter for dinner and contemplating whether or not to order wine - reasoning back and forth, back and forth. I knew the waitress was going to come to the table soon and I wasn't sure what would come out of my mouth. Then, the first text rolled in from a girl I recently met in AA. "Hey, how're you feeling today?" Then, my phone rings - a newcomer who'd recently relapsed and when she asked me for tips in early sobriety I said to pick up the phone a lot, call people, even if it's a practice call and you have nothing to say. Then, another text, from Holly. Then, another text from a guy, also in the program. All at once. Then! And this is the best part. As I'm ping-ponging in my head and responding to these texts I hear Alma's voice come into focus,
"Mama. Maaaama. MAMA!"
"Look at this." She puts the pat of butter in my face. "It says AA."
I laughed. Seriously? Seriously?! Fiiiiiiiiiiine. FINE. Not today.
Then, last night, we had some time to kill because I had left my keys with someone at the office and needed to wait for my landlord to get home. I was agitated all day and my mind starts ping-ponging again. I take Alma to Super Cuts to get her hair trimmed because she's looking orphan-like and when I walk in, there's newcomer girl.
A wants to go to dinner so we go to a pizza place and my mind is still all haywire and getting louder by the moment. We sit, I contemplate, take a deep breath and look around. Right across from me, in a busy restaurant with a zillion faces I don't know, is a guy I know from the program. He smiles, I smile, and I just shake my head.
Today I woke up sober.