First, I want to say that I am befuddled. One of the reasons I want to say that is because I love that word, but also, because I am.
I just went back through all my posts looking for a specific one I wrote about Thanksgiving and it doesn’t seem to exist.
Which is a pain because I was going to lean heavily on it in writing this one, but oh well.
Thanksgiving day, 2010.
Let me set the stage. Dimly lit home office . Dim lighting courtesy of closed shutters not allowing the light of day in. Our heroine is seated at the desk, no differently than she had been the night before. Or the day before that. Or the day before….you get the idea.
The desk is covered in papers, notes, to-do lists (that never get done), bills…detritus.
Our heroine is huddled in the big, comfy office chair. Dressed stylishly in over-sized sweats (really over sized..her dead husband’s!), hair lavishly un-done, no make-up and no hope. She opens the drawer of the file cabinet and pulls out the big Costco bottle of Jack Daniels and adds some more to her already almost full cup.
She dials the phone and begs off her plans for Thanksgiving with a friend. She is crying, distraught, and says she can’t do it, can’t drive there.
It’s between 10 and 11 am.
Right before she picked up the phone she had the thought “I am going to die like this”. As was stated above, she then poured more Jack into her glass and opted out of being with anyone else, choosing instead to wallow in her misery.
that thought? that “I am going to die like this”? It stayed with her and suddenly she was googling as if her life depended on it (and it did!). How do I know if I drink too much? Sober blogs. Sober moms. Drinking too much. Every iteration of any question she could ask to 1) prove she was not an alcoholic and 2) find help.
That day, 4 years ago, was my bottom. My sacred bottom. Sacred because that was the day I could no longer hide from myself the fact that I had a drinking problem. That day started my climb back into life; the day that I realized I would die “like that”…drunk, alone and desperate.
It took me until the following March to get sober, to get willing to really do it, but there was no turning back after that Thanksgiving day, and I see those 4 months as preparation, acknowledgment and acceptance of what was to come, HAD to come.
So Thanksgiving day, for me, is an incredible day. Yes, I eat too much (but I had practically stopped eating), and laugh too hard (I hadn’t really laughed in years) and I am too grateful….WAIT! NEVER too grateful! But SO grateful for that horrible day that began a journey to here, to a life that, incrementally, just keeps getting bigger and better.
If you are reading this and struggling today, know how much worse it could be, and is, for so many people. Know that everything will be ok, better than ok, if you just don’t pick up that drink. There is so much help for you out there, AA and other support groups, blogs, FB pages. Look around at the friends and/or family you are with and imagine them lost to you, a very real possibility if you continue drinking. Imagine the table without you there at all, or as an empty seat, set in your honor, mourning your loss. That’s where it will end up; I believe that. I believe that because I was shown that in one sacred moment 4 years ago, for which I will be eternally grateful.
Happy Thanksgiving my friends! May your day be filled with joy and gratitude!
And here is a beautiful piece, on gratitude, by David Whyte
is not a passive response to something given to us, gratitude is being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. Gratitude is not something that is shown after the event, it is the deep, a priori state of attention that shows we understand and are equal to the gifted nature of life. Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is privilege, that we are part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape. To see the full miraculous essentiality of the color blue is to be grateful with no necessity for a word of thanks. To see fully, the beauty of a daughter’s face is to be fully grateful without having to seek a God to thank him. To sit among friends and strangers, hearing many voices, strange opinions; to intuit inner lives beneath surface lives, to inhabit many worlds at once in this world, to be a someone amongst all other someones, and therefore to make a conversation without saying a word, is to deepen our sense of presence and therefore our natural sense of thankfulness that everything happens both with us and without us, that we are participants and witness all at once. Thankfulness finds its full measure in generosity of presence, both through participation and witness. We sit at the table part of every other person’s world while making our own world without will or effort, this is what is extraordinary and gifted, this is the essence of gratefulness, seeing to the heart of privilege. Thanksgiving happens when our sense of presence meets all other presences. Being unappreciative means we are simply not paying attention.
© David Whyte
November Thoughts 2013