Gratitude for a Life Well Recovered

A few days ago I somewhat accidentally started down a rabbit hole of my past.

I dug up old forum posts and comments, old messages that should have been deleted long ago; I was flooded with flashbacks and emotions that I obviously have not done a very good job of dealing with.

But one feeling overcame them all.

All the shame, fear, guilt, disgust, horror, shock–all the agony that I felt reliving my past, one feeling consumed all of that:

gratitude.

Not too long ago I was at death’s door. And I don’t mean that death was calling on me as I gradually levitated toward it. What I mean is that I was pounding at that door looking for a way out, killing myself every single day. I had lost my husband, my home, my children, all hope and happiness and love. I felt hopeless and defeated and I prayed for relief in the most permanent way.

But God brought me back.

He grabbed me from the pits of my own Hell and showed me a different path. A path I knew existed but had long eluded. A path of hope and love and joy, a path of salvation.

He didn’t do the work for me. And He didn’t make it easy. But he showed me that I could do it. He picked me up and dusted me off even as I kicked and screamed against Him.

Memories of an abscess in my arm that swelled up and rotted with infection. I told my family it was a spider bite and refused to seek medical attention.

Memories of overdosing in my car alone in the middle of the night. No one knew where I was. Waking up gasping for breath, drenched in sweat and vomiting.

Memories of carpet surfing for one more rock, one more speck of “relief”. Sifting through cat litter for a shred of something, anything dropped or lost last night or last week. Anything to just help me forget.

A memory of giving all of my time and energy and resources to a man who wasn’t my husband because I was terrified of being alone with myself, and because he needed me. And it felt good to be needed.

I weep openly now, sitting in my chair at work behind the register in an empty store, these memories choking me, literally taking my breath away.

Gratitude. That’s not my life anymore. It never has to be my life again. Today I get to choose what happens to me. I don’t chase people or substances to escape myself anymore. I don’t run away. Today I face life head-on even when it feels like it will kill me.

Gratitude. Because I survived. I’m alive. And there aren’t many who are so lucky.

Gratitude.
Because years ago when I got sober and I reminisced about my time spent using, I didn’t feel gratitude. I felt resentment and desire and regret that I wasn’t still using.

But not today. Today I know that I barely escaped with my life and I know that in an instant I can lose it all again. And you couldn’t pay me enough to go back.

Today, for the first time in my life I am so grateful to be sober and free. God help me, today I don’t ever want to look back again.

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