A Reason for Gratitude – Grapevine Article August 1996 by Carolene B.

It’s 9:30 p.m. I’m walking across the nearly deserted parking lot of the local plant where I work. Every bone, muscle, and nerve in my body is exhausted and aching. I pick one foot up and have to make myself put it down and take another step. My breath is short and I have a tension headache. My feet feel like cement blocks and have swollen so much my shoes are constricting any remaining feeling. Even my fingernails hurt. I look up into the clear, starlit sky and cry to a God I’m just beginning to know and trust, “What have I done so bad to deserve this?”

All the old thoughts that a drink would make me feel better and help me forget my unhappiness start to gather like thunderclouds in my brain. As I drag my body toward my car, sanity creeps in and I remember why I’m here in this parking lot: John Barleycorn himself and the consequences of my drinking.

For twenty-seven years, I breezed through life as a professional person making lots of money with little or no effort. My drinking was a means of relieving stress and tension until that fateful day when I crossed the line that all alcoholics know so well. The alcohol became my life. Everything I did revolved around the booze; I had no will. It took several more years before alcoholic behavior and insanity forced me into a treatment center and introduced me to sobriety. As a result of my past indiscretions, I was relieved of my professional license and returned to polite society with no way of making a living. I had tenuous recovery and all the fears of surviving without alcohol.

Now here I am with a dirty, hardworking and low-paying job that I hate. I’m in such sad shape physically, and there’s no hope for me to continue doing this anyway. I have no money, my bills are piled up, and I’ll probably lose my home. How will I feed my cats or myself? The four horsemen of terror, despair, bewilderment, and frustration are consuming me.

From deep within, my Higher Power sends strength into my fatigued body, and I make it to my car. I have to be grateful; I know several people who don’t even have a car. I drive to my home. I have to be grateful because I know people who don’t have a place to sleep, much less a home of their own. I go into my house and take a hot shower. I have to be grateful. I put warm, clean clothing on and go into the kitchen for a bowl of soup. I have to be grateful. I get on my knees by my bedside, and as my body’s exhaustion and fatigue lessen, I can honestly say thank you to my Higher Power for the day. My spirit becomes quiet and is at rest. The turmoil and self-pity are vanquished. There’s a warm feeling that all is well with me, and I’ll be able to withstand any of the trials and pains that life may hand me. For this I am grateful.

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