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August 13 • Gratitude Hills

Day 766

Gratitude is such a strange thing. I've never heard anyone argue against gratitude. Being thankful seems to be a universal value. Except it isn't.

We all want to be thankful, but we all have different lines where we stop being thankful and begin being resentful. For example, I can be thankful that the tornado didn't damage my house, but just across the property line, there is grief and anger at the loss of life in the house that was destroyed next door: same tornado, different results.

It's always bothered me to see a TV interview with a survivor thanking God for sparing their life, while neighbors' bodies and debris of a tragedy sprawl in the background.

These thoughts are a bit esoteric, I grant you, but they are the disjointed considerations of my brain for years. And now I'm being told that gratitude is a huge part of proper recovery from sexual addiction. I'm being told that by people with wrecked lives and destroyed marriages in their backgrounds. But here, it doesn't bother me so much. In fact, I embrace it.

I think the issue is not how many obviously good things we can be grateful for; that's easy. Instead, how much of the struggle, of the senseless pain, of the not-understood consequences (not to mention the understood consequences), can we choose to accept with gratitude because we choose to trust a Higher Power's wisdom for our lives?

In recovery, I've never really sat down and made a list of the things for which I am grateful. I hear people talk about doing that regularly at meetings, and about how important it has been in turning a corner in their addiction. It is a powerful thing.

My list would be very long. I've lived a blessed life, and even my sexual addiction has been a net positive as recovery has given me more blessings than my addict brain has stolen away. I had not done that calculation before, but it's true. My problem is that I still struggle with the idea that I deserve any of the things in my life that would be on such a list. Why have I fared so well?

For many years I achieved in life as a king-sized hypocrite that ran to the shadows of his addiction every chance he got, and now I sit next to friends and mentors who have lost careers and homes while I've been able to carry on with minimal material loss.

Don't get me wrong. I still can't believe I survived the actions and the pain of my addiction; it was horrible, and I am grateful for what I still have. But there is also pain in having less pain than others. Why can I not just be thankful for being so fortunate instead of making everything so complicated?

Maybe I should make a list.




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