With the world in free-fall and with an uncertain future, this alcoholic thinks there’s never been a better time to be grateful.
I know, things aren’t great at the moment. The shops are empty, we cannot visit our friends and family, people are very sick and dying; in fact it is safe to say that things are pretty bad. Being grateful in hard times can be challenging, finding something positive can be almost impossible and feel like a tokenistic gesture. Perhaps for some that is true, but not for me – and here is why.
Twelve months ago I felt like crap. I had gotten to the point where years of struggle to reign in the worst of my addiction was becoming impossible to maintain. The pretence that I was just a social drinker was going to be exposed for what it was, a sham. It was inevitable and I didn’t have the strength or the inclination to do anything about it. I looked at my family, my friends, my job – everyone and everything that was important to me and I knew that no one and no single thing would ever come before the need for a drink. I couldn’t see how I would be able to hold onto those things for much longer if I was still drinking.
And then something happened, something that I do not understand to this day. I gave in. I stopped fighting the fact that I couldn’t control the drinking and instead I ran, willingly, to someone close to me and told them: “I need help”. Seemingly out of nowhere I found the strength to open up about the darkest secret I had and admitted that I was powerless over alcohol. I didn’t know it then, but I had completed Step 1 of AA’s twelve step programme.
A few days later and I’m sat in an AA meeting, looking like a lost lamb – but instantly feeling a connection to these strangers. Everything I heard that first night told me that here were a group of people who knew what it was like to be in my head. Of course there were plenty of differences, differences in temperament when drunk, differences in the amount of drink drunk, differences in the places where we drank and the company we kept (or didn’t keep as the case may be), but the way our brains operated and how we saw the world and our place in it, that was the same.
At about this time I found Twitter and, rather more importantly #RecoveryPosse. Now, here were a group of people that I could relate to and that I could carry around in my pocket for emergencies! In those first few weeks and months it was members of #RecoveryPosse who kept me from picking up again; many of these people have since become firm friends and trusted allies in sobriety. Over the months I have found more and more like-minded folk here on Twitter and in the real world, people that help me and that I can help (which also helps me).
Today we find ourselves in unchartered waters; none of us can be sure about what the future holds. What we do know is that this new virus is not interested in our nationality, in our sex or sexual orientation. It’s not interested in our gender or whether we vote Conservative or Labour, Republican or Democrat. It does not care if we are a CEO of a FTSE 100 company or a homeless person on the streets; to this virus we are all the same. For a long time it has felt like we needed to be reminded of that; and this naturally occurring phenomenon has firmly planted that reality in our minds.
Social media has been increasingly dominant in our lives, more so for the younger generations, and our relationship with it has not always been smooth and unchallenging. We know too well the dark side of social media, the bullying, shaming and trolling that goes on every day, yet here we are – in the middle of this crisis and it is social media that is enabling us to stay connected with our loved ones – to see our parents in their living rooms whilst sitting in our own. It is social media that is allowing those of us in recovery to continue to attend the meetings that are vital to our health and wellbeing. And it is social media that enables us to have access to all the latest news and information on the virus and how to keep each other safe. How would we be fairing today if we did not have access to this technology?
No matter how bad things are today I am grateful that I am sober. I am grateful to have #RecoveryPosse and I am grateful to have AA.
Today it is easy to be grateful.
Contributed by @SobrietyMatt