People in recovery have seen some things. They can make great workers in the field of recovery because they have made the journey through addiction to something beyond sobriety. Understand: maintaining sobriety after years of addiction is no small accomplishment, but people in recovery want to become more than “a sober drunk,” to use an expression I learned from a friend who’s been making the most of his recovery for decades.
In a post for Rockland’s The Friends House, one such survivor/teacher (not me) believes that gratitude can play a big role in that journey.
Recovery is hard work. And many of those who live in recovery come from backgrounds that featured few examples of gratitude. Some of them recall no such moments from childhood or adulthood. Nada. Zip.
The linked post tells the story of one such young man. The first time we asked the residents of The Friend’s House what they were grateful for, one barked out a spiteful laugh and said,“Fuckin’ nothing.” He stood up and walked away from the question in disgust.
Through frustration after frustration, he has persisted, and the article suggests that he may have reached a turning point. The last few weeks, when we go around at house meetings and share what we’re grateful for, he straightens his back, looks up and says, “I’m really glad not to be in jail.” He keeps the house clean and he keeps himself clean; he’s working hard and doing an amazing job. But the question of whether he can make this life work as a clean, healthy, legal community member or whether he will slip back into a world of addiction and easy money is very present in all of our minds.
Numerous cultural and religious traditions value the practice of gratitude. The subfield of positive psychology has quantified its effects. It’s a real thing that benefits those who do it. But we’re not all blessed with life circumstances that promote it. Good to see people helping those who need it most. I encourage you to follow the blog on the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition site.
Ned Bachus is the author of Open Admissions: What Teaching at Community College Taught Me About Learning (Wild River Books, 2017) and of the “Turning Points” weekly blog on nedbachus.com. City of Brotherly Love (Fleur-de-Lis Books), his book of stories, was awarded the 2013 IPPY Gold Medal for Literary Fiction. Bachus’s article, “Learning From Turning Points in Our Teaching Lives,” was featured in the May issue of NEA Higher Education Advocate, which reaches over 150,000 college faculty in the U.S. http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/1901eAdvocate_ThrivingFinal.pdf