If you go to meetings, then you probably have heard someone introduce themselves as a “grateful alcoholic.” When I first started attending meetings, I heard this a lot and it always perplexed me. Even just how every single person introduced themselves as alcoholics I found it surprising, yet understandable; but “grateful?” Having struggled with addiction and alcoholism from a young age, in addition to living through several traumatic events, I did not have much of an understanding of the term gratitude. It took me a lot of reflecting and working on myself before I understood and experienced gratitude. Now that I am in long-term recovery, I completely understand why people introduce themselves as grateful alcoholics.
As alcoholics, we often have lost hope in nearly all things worthwhile in life. Alcohol has become our only concern and sucked the life out of us. I found it very hard to find joy, motivation, faith, or hope for my future. I blamed everyone else around me and blamed past events in my life. In my mind, I was the only victim and the world was out to get me. I never once considered to learn from my mistakes or to help others who have had similar trauma as me. I was selfish and self-centered, almost 100% of the time.
Eventually, the pain became too great. I could no longer continue living the way I did, even though I felt so hopeless. I agreed to go to rehab, which is where I discovered 12-step fellowships. Joining a 12-step fellowship encouraged me to face my trauma and fears. I was encouraged to help people, to be less selfish, and to make amends to those I had hurt. These were new ideas and extremely frightening things for me. It was not easy and it took work, but, as suggested by my sponsor, I followed through with the steps and gave my whole hearted effort.
I began to help other people get sober, I made amends with my loved ones, and I began to share my story with other alcoholics. I also introduced meditation into my daily routine. I made friendships like I had never experienced before. I gradually began to recognize when I was wrong, and though sometimes hesitative, I admitted it and attempted to make the situation right. Though this type of work is not easy, especially for alcoholics, it is a very simple platform for living and easy to comprehend. It is simply a matter of putting in the footwork to reach a state of being a grateful alcoholic.
I began to really start experiencing gratitude when I began helping other alcoholics get sober. Through doing this, I was able to relate my experiences with another human. I was able to feel like I had a more meaningful purpose in life. Working one-on-one with another alcoholic is an experience one cannot really describe. For alcoholics, it is often hard to find other people who know exactly what we are feeling, so when the opportunity comes, it can be extremely rewarding.
Working with other alcoholics I not only felt useful, but I learned things about myself. I realized that everyone has some sort of traumatic events in their life and some even have the same experiences as me. I was able to have a new perspective on how selfish I had really been. When someone holds in secrets and feelings, it causes a great deal of stress. 12-step fellowships give an avenue for people to share these secrets with people they come to trust. As secrets and feelings are shared, it becomes easier to feel comfortable with one’s self and easier to share stories with more people.
Feeling comfortable in one’s own skin is a stepping stone to gratitude. Helping people and sharing personal stories helps a person see how useful they can be to others. As time goes on, it may be hard to even recognize the person you once were before getting sober. For me, remembering the anguish and hopelessness I felt is cringe-worthy. I can’t imagine how alien I would look now to my old self. This is why I can say I am a grateful alcoholic today.
People who introduce themselves as grateful alcoholics have had a very similar experience as me. Often they will tell you that they would not be the person they are today if they hadn’t been an alcoholic. Alcoholism has a particular knack for breaking a person down to their lowest point. After rising from rock bottom, it is hard to not feel grateful (many of us narrowly escaped jail or death!). So if you too are new to the program and hear someone say they are a grateful alcoholic, ask them why. I’m sure they will be willing to share their story with you.
Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction
If you or a loved one has a problem with alcoholism or addiction and want to experience recovery in a thriving community with lots of people just like you, then call the professionals at Stout Street today at 866-722-7040. Our trained staff is standing by to take your call and help you in any way we can. We know how difficult of a decision this can be and we know what it takes to ensure you find your own person path in recovery. You no longer have to do it alone, so give us a call today and find the happy and sober life you’ve always dreamed of.