The spirit of gratitude and holiday cheers is just around the corner. Despite the negative events surrounding the holiday, it is a time of giving and family. Families all across the country get together for a traditional turkey dinner and everyone at the table expresses what they are thankful for. But are we really thankful for all of these things we say?
Are you truly thankful for whatever just came out of your mouth, or are you just trying to get past Aunt Amy’s judgment? Gratitude comes within our inner most selves, but it can be hard to be grateful to the very core. For me, gratitude came with time and maturity. There were many years where I felt as though I had nothing to be grateful for. Today, I am grateful for every breathing moment, and I want to share the story that allowed me to arrive at this point in my life.
Growing up, I was told to be grateful for everything that I had in life, including a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes on my back, an education and a loving family. Sure, I suppose I was grateful. But I never really knew what that meant. I didn’t realize that there were thousands of people out there suffering from illness, or homelessness, or they just didn’t have the opportunities I did. For a long time, I took life for granted. I failed to live up to my expectations, and often let down many people. Drugs were my problem.
I started getting high when I was 13. Smoking weed and drinking was extremely fun at first, and all my “friends” were doing it with me. The more I got high, the more I wanted to get high. After a while, I tried to be high all the time, and when I was sober, I was miserable to be around. No goals, no aspirations, and no respect for anyone. Worst of all, I had no gratitude at all. I could care less who I crossed over, who I stole from, or who I hurt. I also lived by the mentality “I’m only hurting myself.” Instead of being grateful, I acted as if I deserved all of these gifts in life.
I got high to fill a void, a big hole in my esteem. I was filled with fear and couldn’t let anyone know the true me. I was an egomaniac, but on the inside, I feared what everyone thought of me and constantly sought approval. The more I used drugs and alcohol, the worse my problem got. Not my drug problem, my “me problem.”
Running my life ripping in run is the best way I can describe it. The only thing that I would truly be grateful for was when my drug dealer had the right amount of drugs for my liking. I was grateful for moments where I didn’t get caught doing something illegal and basically relied on any fox-holed prayer that came true.
My addiction brought me to very dark places. I had no hope, and nobody had any hope in me. I hit bottom after struggling with drugs for over seven years. I took enough pills to kill most people, however, my tolerance was so high it didn’t kill me. An overdose nonetheless, but still a cry for help. I didn’t want to kill myself but the amount of pills I was taking was no longer getting me high so I had to up my dosage. I ended up in the hospital after what I call a mental breakdown. The combination of no sleep, no food and only drugs in my system brought me to the psych ward.
It hit me there, I finally found gratitude. I should have died from what I did to my brain and body. And for the first time in my life I was grateful to be alive and safe. I fall on my knees and thank God for sparing my life. That day I truly knew what it meant to be grateful for something. I had this huge ego and it had to be crushed if I wanted any chance at living a normal life. And at my first drug rehab center in Maryland, I learned that gratitude is one of the most important keys to success.
I started actively practicing gratitude. Soon, it became part of my daily routine without even noticing it. And today I am grateful for the life have. Through sobriety, all of my dreams have come true. The best part of my life today is the fact that I do not obsess over drugs or alcohol anymore. I used to wake up every morning, obsessing about getting high.
Today I wake up free from this disease and grateful that I no longer have to suffer. I wake up grateful for my family, for my job, for my close friends, and most importantly my physical and mental health. So this Thanksgiving, dig deep inside your very core and really express what you are truly grateful for.
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