“I hate the topic of gratitude because I always leave the meeting feeling not good enough. I’m sober, and I want to stay sober, but I’m just not grateful. I don’t get it. Maybe it just takes time. I’ll keep coming back because I want it, but I don’t get it,” said a newcomer at a meeting recently.

My sobriety has included the same thoughts, and at one time I didn’t get it and quit trying. Didn’t work the steps, didn’t get a sponsor and stopped going to meetings. It didn’t take long before I was drinking again. Two and a half years of sobriety on self will didn’t work. That progression from that first drink to passing out every night was quick and almost killed me.

Full of shame I returned to the rooms and was greeted with warmth and open arms. I still didn’t get it, but the alternative of death was enough to keep me coming back. I made one commitment; I wasn’t in control and needed help.

Maybe there was enough gratitude in that commitment to keep me away from the first drink, or maybe it was the fellowship. I just knew that I had to surrender and have as few expectations as possible, because they were causing fear, anger and guilt, and they were killing me.

It wasn’t magic, nor was it crystal clear, but by surrendering and learning to be teachable I was able to start from scratch to build a new mind based on a relationship of trust with my Higher Power and service to others. The old mind was broken and fixing it wouldn’t heal the problems, I needed something new. It was like a broken down house in disrepair, if you try fixing the wiring or the plumbing you still have broken stuff behind the repairs. I had to build something new with the tools of the 12 Steps.

Now when I am asked about gratitude, I can reply that I am grateful to be learning how to live without anger, fear and guilt. My life is beginning to be joyous and free, I and trust my Higher Power. It’s about progress, not perfection.