A Sea of Snot-Covered Gratitude

November 25, 2018

As I type this, I am sitting as close as humanly possible to a diffuser spewing essential oils, sipping herbal tea, gingerly eating hummus with sub-par carrots and blasting the curative, dulcet tones of Beirut. Heal me, gangly European boys in a Youtube video from ELEVEN (11) years ago.

I am not at my boyfriend's family's holiday dinner. I will not attend a 12 step meeting tonight, for fear of turning my alcoholic peers into fellow snot-beasts. I'd like to spend the last day of my four day weekend doing something cool, but my plans today include sneezing, trembling and some light groaning. If I'm feeling ambitious, perhaps I'll lug some laundry out into the rain, pay $1.25 a pop to rinse my germs off and then also remember to transfer it to the dryer an hour later.

It's day five of whatever this illness is and though I have scarcely seen a person over this holiday weekend, I'm working on a new skill I've developed in sobriety: gratitude. When I first quit drinking, it pissed me off to no end when people would say they were "grateful alcoholics." Even now, two years into sobriety, I get a little salty if that's uttered at the wrong moment. But at the same time? I kinda get it. As I've said countless times - it's nice to know what your problem is so that you can take steps to fix it.

As much as I want to be that 5k-running, 30 pounds lighter, meal prepper whose Netflix special and second memoir is forthcoming, it's okay that - for now - I'm the same me, just not drunk. A sober friend once said "you deal with things in the order that they're killing you." For me, the thing that was killing me fastest was drinking daily. Now that that's outta the way, I can begin to deal with depression, financial hurdles and my ridiculous comedy ambitions.

It sucked not to go home and see my family. It sucked that I was too sick to do a giant, southern Thanksgiving spread for two. Even though I'm STILL sick and alone, things could be worse. I went to my job and got paid. I used that money to pay some bills. I have the insight to treat myself gently in my sickly state. Earlier this week, I attended a Friendsgiving comedy friends and yesterday, I met a new, sober/comedy friend for dinner and wound up chatting with the server, a friend who used to do comedy and may yet return to it.

I'm grateful, for example, that I'm burping up fish oil supplements instead of yesterday's Jagermeister. I'm feverish from a cold, not from pounding shots at some shitty bar, after singing along (blacked out) to Bon Jovi and waking up on a near-stranger's futon. And best of all, I didn't try to convert a remote tribe to Christianity, get a face full of arrows and then become an easy metaphor for the perils of American exceptionalism and evangelism on the most culturally insensitive holidays.

Learning to practice gratitude in sobriety is one of the many skills I wish I had learned as a drunk person. If you're, like me, alone, sick and lonely on this holiday weekend, it's okay to mourn the stuff that's actually going wrong in the world. It's okay to be resentful towards families who cut you out, for example. It's okay to be upset if somebody's sick. Or to be sad for the dumb missionary I mentioned.


However, I hope in your sea of miseries, you have something to be grateful for - be it your health, your dinner (fast food or not), or maybe just that you have internet right now. If you do - here, have some poetry.

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