When I first set out on the adventure of sobriety I discovered what it was like to have a clear head again, be more mindful, have feelings come back, and I would often find myself with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.
In recovery we are always grateful for many people and things but we can’t spend our days saying thank you, we have to live our lives, so we often take time to be thankful; with a gratitude list, Instagram post, diary or calling a loved one. But this week I felt gratitude flood over me, similar to what I felt when I first got sober.
Hundreds of people have come into my life as a result of my reaching out and it truly touched me. So today, I’m sharing just a little of my gratitude and encouraging you to take a moment to think about what you’re grateful for today.
I turned sober at 27 and 1 year ago I would have said that I didn’t have a choice “I had to get sober, my body was giving up, I couldn’t do it anymore”.
But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t my choice, I could have rolled over and surrendered, but I didn’t, I stood the fuck up and faced it head on.
I don’t know what the next 60 , 70, or 80 years (fingers crossed) of sobriety will look like. It does scare me, but I am more grateful that my brain decided to change when it did.
I’m grateful for the people that got me medically fit. It was my GP at the time who actually planted the seed that what I was doing to myself was deadly. The health implications were always something that scared me. While being sensitive and cautious, she managed to plant a seed which eventually grew, albeit taking a while.
The hospital staff who were there at my true time of need after my seizures. The nurses who stood at the door blocking my exit after I had escaped twice to get alcohol while in detox and let my mum stay with me while in psychosis. To the doctors for their honesty and time explaining what I’d need to get clean. And the always joyful nurse who changed my IVs and took my cobbled together nonsense jokes on the chin with a smile.
I’m grateful for the Taxi man who took me home after my second hospital escape. I have to admit, I have no recollection of this. Whoever you are, and if by some miracle you’re reading this, if you took a psychotic 27 year old alcoholic from a shop by Queen Mary’s Hospital to West Bridgford – thank you.
I’m grateful for my family and them never turning their back on me, even when it looked like there was almost no light at the end of the tunnel.
My mum and Andy who went through hell and back reliving the same routine over and over, everyday, ending with the fear that the next day wouldn’t exist for me. Who stood by me, hugged me, made me feel loved, despite what I was doing to myself and everyone around me.
My Dad and Ellie for always being strong and not giving up, letting me have time before I broke, giving me practical advice and helping me get back on my feet. I look up to my Dad more than he knows, so to hear him say “I’m proud” is one of the greatest gifts of sobriety.
My cousin Sophie who held my hand on her first rehab visit, walked round the shopping centre with me and said that I was going to be okay. I remember it like yesterday and feeling embarrassed that you had to see me like that, but at the same time so happy you were there.
I’m grateful for all my aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends, who have all sent and passed on messages of strength, hope and love. Every message brings joy and reminds me that this is what sobriety brings.
I’m grateful for the staff at rehab for setting me straight, holding my hand when I was weak and laying the foundation for this whole journey I am on.
Perhaps even more, I am thankful for the other residents, who in those two months became my housemates, my family and my support network. We’re still in touch and you’re all wonderful people.
I’m grateful to have an understanding and caring boss who took me on a couple of months after rehab. He gave me purpose, motivated me and it certainly helped build my recovery to what it is today.
I’m grateful for my friends. It would take me about a week to detail out what you’ve all done for me, but you guys make my sobriety special. None of you turned your backs despite me disappearing for a few months, none of you judged, but more importantly, you see me for me – the same Ben just without 14 pints in him. I used to think alcohol made me everything I was. You’ve all helped me see I can be confident, funny, sarcastic, serious, emotional, deep without the bottle by my side.
I’m grateful for my therapist. Who slowly grew the seed of change inside me to think about rehab over weeks and weeks of therapy, but he never pushed too far. Never made me feel like I was being attacked, he just supported me until I made the right call. He was the first person I called when I had made my mind up to go into rehab and I’m so glad he picked up.
I’m grateful for Emma, not just her pretty face, silly humour, infectious laugh, daft monologues and severe lack of cooking skills, but for not judging me when I admitted I was an alcoholic on our first date. She didn’t make up some excuse about how she’d forgotten to feed her cat and it would die in the next 20 minutes unless she got home. She listened (as I almost certainly rambled on, which makes it even more special) and saw me for the person I was, not the illness I fight.
Lastly I’m grateful for my strength & determination, which I get from my Dad. I’m an all or nothing guy, but I never knew I had it in me yet here I stand, over 500 days clean.
I think about alcohol everyday. Every single day. But it will not enter my body in a physical form again.
Sobriety has brought me so much and that’s just the tip of my gratitude iceberg.
One of the biggest gifts I’ve given to myself is that I can now think about the future, in a way I couldn’t before. I can plan, fantasise, day dream, knowing I’ll be sober, knowing that everything is a possibility and not going to be shut down by the demon inside of me. It feels freeing.
While yes, there is more to change, I’m on a journey and I couldn’t ever be more grateful to be on it. As tears gather in my eyes while I write this, I can’t help but think about all of you, along with my growing recovery family. This blog is dedicated to you guys. Thank you.
Love, Ben x