Thanksgiving Gratitude

It's dark in my room when my eyes flutter open.  I lean over and grab my phone from the nightstand, the bright, fuzzy numbers read 5:34 a.m.  I roll over and try to go back to sleep, but my mind is off and running and I know it will just be easier to crawl out of bed, throw on my well-worn cashmere sweater (that currently doubles as an adult version of a security blanket) and put on a kettle of water for tea.

The 12-step group that I attend starts at 7 a.m. today, but I take my time scrolling through Instagram while I'm waiting for the water to boil.  I get lost in the images of people posting their beautiful holiday tablescapes, sleeping children, inspirational quotes and nature.  I shuffle over to the kettle and plop a loose tea-filled muslin bag into my cup and pour hot water over it.  Before I head into the living room, I pause to take in the surroundings.  The table is partially set, the buffet is covered with two cherry pies made last night and wooden bowls piled high with apples, onions and clementines.

The scene gives me a flashback to years gone by and all of the stress and pressure I used to put on myself on this day.  My need for perfection and control were thrown into hyper-overdrive and when I was drinking, this was an ugly combination.  I quickly remind myself that I was usually hungover on Thanksgiving morning, as I was most days of the week.  I always managed to push through, whatever the hell that means, but there was an edge to the start of the day.  I have no hard edges today, only soft ones.  I'm awake.  I'm calm.  I'm a little melancholy, but more than anything I'm grateful I'm not hungover as I start this day.

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As I walk into the living room, the sun is rising up through the valley fog, creating this large glowing orb that is casting light on all of the dew-covered grass in our field.  As I take a seat at my desk and flip open my laptop, I observe the frost-covered house shingles on the outbuildings in front of me and notice my husband's car windshield is frozen over, too.  The world is an achingly beautiful place this morning.  I'm lucky to be here.  I'm grateful I notice these things now without my own fogged over feeling from imbibing in too much booze the night before.

The heater kicks on and I settle in to write something profound about what I'm feeling, but all I can muster up is this - my account of the last 15 minutes of my morning.  And, it's not just this morning that is so monumental, I realize that it's every morning that I wake up without a hangover feels MONUMENTAL.  I am grateful every single day that I don't have to feel like I used to feel.  It's safe to say that waking up with a hangover is how I spent the last decade of my life before I quit drinking alcohol.  Waking up sans-hangover still feels new to me, like a gift.

It's funny to me (in a very sad way) that I used to think this hungover feeling was normal.  That waking up parched, with a pounding headache was no big deal.  That staring at my make-up smeared face, reeking of alcohol and wanting to die was just how I thought everyone woke up.  How I would proclaim that I just needed coffee to help me "wake up," not knowing the three successive cups I would drink would only fuel my anxiety and accelerate my self-hatred at the start of my day.  

Last year's simple menu

Last year's simple menu

Mornings are my jam now.  My desire to get out of bed on my own accord and greet the day with a grateful heart and kindness towards myself has been my saving grace.  The house is mine for an hour or two.  I allow myself to plan my day, make lists, tidy up the living room, start a load of laundry.  And all the while I'm thinking about my day, my past, my life.  I sit down every morning and write a gratitude list.  Every. Single. Day.

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This gratitude practice has become habit.  I feel off if I don't start the day this way.  The simple act of thinking about all of the good I have in my life humbles me.  It calms me down.  It reminds me just how much I have and how much I have changed over the course of last 21 months.  The gratitude list is the foundation of my day.  It right-sizes me and helps me to be a better person.  It centers me and shifts my thinking.

Today I am grateful for this space to share my musings on life and sobriety.  

I'm grateful for a home that has a heater and the two guys sleeping peacefully under this roof.  

I'm grateful for a full fridge, a sweet dog, friends and family.

I'm grateful I finally woke up to claim a spot at the table of my own life.  That I'm living an examined life by choice and feel grateful that my drinking brought me to this very moment.

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Last Thanksgiving, I gathered around the kitchen table with only my husband and son.  It felt right.  It brought me back to the epicenter of my family and it felt like a renewal of my commitment to the two men I love so very much.  This last year has been laced with a lot of hard work on myself and my recovery from alcohol.  The principles of Reflection, Acceptance, Surrender, Willingness and Radical Self-Care have helped me to get to this place I'm at today.

I'm filled with peace as I finish writing this.  I'm surrounded by notebooks and good pens and candles and my view of our sturdy oak tree.  I just poured my one and only cup of coffee I'll have today and will call it quits after that in order to keep my anxiety at bay.  I'll tag along with my husband and walk our dog, Bodie.  Then we'll come home and start prepping our Thanksgiving feast.

Big Sur, CA - Nov. 2014

Big Sur, CA - Nov. 2014

I'm grateful this man has stuck it out with me.  

I'm grateful my son doesn't have to worry about his mother embarrassing him because she got too tipsy and loud.

I'm grateful that all of my guests know that I don't drink and I feel safe with them.

I'm grateful for my tea station set-up and for having a plan when it comes to being around alcohol today.

I'm grateful for this little spot on the internet where I can come and deposit my feelings about life, sobriety, motherhood, marriage and all of the things that make up this very precious life I'm living.  

I'm grateful I'm showing up for it.  All of it.

(This simple post ended up taking 4+ hours to write because once my guys woke up, I got distracted and technology was irking me on a few different levels.  We went for a walk as a family with our dog and upon returning started doing dinner prep.  I just sat back down and got super frustrated with adding images to this blog post, as I can't access my photos from my computer for some reason.  I'm frustrated, so I walked away and came back and I'm just going to hit post.  Somedays start out quiet and lovely and then spiral out of control for me.  Today, I'm going to hit the reset button, walk away from my computer and go and take a hot, hot shower and try to get back to the feelings I had upon waking.)